Lazada Philippines, which I’ll just call Lazada from here on out, is the Amazon.com of the Philippines. Although there are rumors that Amazon.com will eventually expand to the Philippines, those rumors have yet to come to fruition. Amazon.com did indeed expand into the Asian market, starting with Singapore in 2017, but the Philippines wasn’t part of it.
Sure, you can still order products from Amazon.com from the Philippines but unfortunately, you’ll have to pay an import tax along with other fees and taxes. Lazada is based in the Philippines, so the only tax you have to worry about is the VAT, and it’s included in the price.
Lazada is criticized as being nothing more than an Amazon.com clone. So what? It’s not like Amazon.com is actually competing in the Philippines.
I could tell you all about it, or I could direct your attention to the Wikipedia page on Lazada. Obviously, I just chose the latter. Lazada doesn’t have as much inventory as Amazon.com in the United States and that’s okay. It hasn’t been around as long (February 2012). It’s competing with physical stores that carry the same products.
Where Lazada shines is its delivery services to provincial areas, far off the beaten track. Delivery services are free (to most areas) for purchases over 3000 pesos (around $60 USD).
Lazada is the only online shopping mall I’ve seen that uses “cash on delivery” (or C.O.D.) as one of its payment methods. That payment method hasn’t been used for decades in the United States. Lazada has other payment methods as well, including credit/debit cards and PayPal purchases.
Between 2015 and 2018, I ordered products from Lazada that I couldn’t find in Olongapo. They were always delivered when stated and the couriers were very polite. They use multiple courier services, including LBC and 2GO.
There are some items that would cost me too much to ship to the Philippines using conventional methods, items that won’t fit in balikbayan boxes. I plan to order those items from Lazada when I return.
I can’t say much about other areas in the Philippines because I spend as little time as possible outside Olongapo. If I look hard enough, I can find almost everything I need these days in stores in Olongapo proper or at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. The keyword is “almost” I usually check the freeport zone before anywhere else because everything purchased there is tax-free and duty-free.
If Amazon.com ever expands into the Philippines, I expect it to set up shop at one of the four economic zones (Clark, Subic, Bataan and some place in metro Manila). It’s the only way anyone in the Philippines would buy from them. Import taxes are horrendous when you combine them with a 12 percent VAT.
The unfortunate fact is that many of the products covered by Lazada are made in China. That makes sense considering the Alibaba Group bought controlling shares in 2016. Luckily, they still carry products made in Japan and other places. It’s been a while since I looked, so I can’t tell you if they carry anything American made.