How online aggregators can drive the growth of internet economies
MANILA, Philippines - Today, you can buy virtually anything online. And there are a million brands and providers to choose from – each wanting to offer you the best deal for their product or service. You may find yourself overwhelmed or confused with the number of choices and information available to you. But don’t panic just yet as online aggregators exist for this very reason.
Online aggregators are websites or apps that collect information from different businesses and curate them to your needs. This allows you to compare the prices and features of products or services all in one location. For instance, you’re looking for the cheapest flight bound for Manila, an online travel aggregator will present you with some of the lowest priced flights from different airlines.
These platforms profit from commission fees paid by sellers when they successfully connect a buyer. Both the buyer and seller have something to gain in the setup.
From a buyer’s perspective, the search for a product or service that fit his or her needs is made simpler and faster. You no longer need to take the time to visit each individual seller’s website to find what you want. The seller, meanwhile, increases reach and exposure which could eventually bring in more buyers.
A recent Google study on Southeast Asia’s internet economy cited online travel as the largest and most established among four sectors which also include online media, ecommerce, and ride hailing. Online travel accounted for over $30 billion in Southeast Asia’s internet economy and an estimated 41% of all travel bookings in the region this year were completed online.
This is largely due to the popularity of online travel aggregators such as Agoda, Booking, and Traveloka who made it easy to book flights and hotel stays that cater to a consumer’s budget. Because of this, most people today begin their searches in aggregator platforms whenever they plan to go on a trip or vacation.
“Online travel aggregators give travelers the ability to easily compare and find the best products and prices as well as the convenience to check availability and to complete the booking in one go,” the study said.
Instead of going to a travel agency or meeting a travel agent, online travel aggregators let you pull up your smartphone and book everything yourself.
The Philippines currently has an online travel market worth $1.8 billion. It is forecasted to have a steady growth in the coming years and reach $5 billion by 2025.
Online aggregators operate on the promise that they can help find what you need based on the information you provide. Some employ user feedback to help filter what people think are “good” from what is “bad”; while others use artificial intelligence to make recommendations on the best deals.
These platforms also serve important roles as market curators, as explained by Tom Popomaronis of Forbes. This means that online aggregators often have specific criteria of who they choose to partner and affiliate themselves with based on what their consumers need.
This cannot be more overstated in markets where numerous factors could influence a consumer’s decision to purchase.
One is in the healthcare market where aggregators look to provide their consumers with the best plan for all their medical needs. Local healthcare aggregator Maria Health, for example, provides potential customers with options from their selection of partner health maintenance organizations when they inquire. From there, customers can decide what type of coverage they can get and for what cost.
Another example is the real estate market where location, land area, and price range, all factor in a buyer’s decision. Lamudi, one of the most visited real estate portals in the country, has a network of thousands of licensed real estate brokers that list properties on the platform.
Given the widespread adoption of smartphones and the steady boom of online shopping, online aggregators can only get more popular in time. It has already solidified itself in online travel and will likely find its mark in other new online marketplaces. – Rappler.com