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  • By Louella Losinio

Is online shopping building steam on Guam?

Crowds have been flocking the malls by drove signalling the start of the holiday season. Competing with local stores are the online shopping retailers that have carved out a market among the tech-savvy consumers.

On Guam, millennial shoppers have been doing their purchasing online. Most of the young people interviewed make their online purchase through Amazon. The online retailing giant has been cornering the online market for quite some time. While there are no specific data for Guam, a recent study from Verto Analytics indicate Amazon dominating e-commerce activities in Nov 2016 with 200 million unique visitors per month and a reach of 81 percent.

Jonathan Castro, a University of Guam student, mostly does his shopping through Amazon and other online retailers. While this allows him easier access to a wide range of products, he sees the process of being able to buy with one click as a disadvantage.

Marlow Abrenila, another online user said, “just searching automatically what you want, going right where you want to go. You can see the prices right away.” In terms of disadvantages he said, “you cannot see the product in your hands. You cannot see it personally you cannot see if it is damaged. You have to trust that the seller packs it properly before they send it to you.”

For Stephanie Balagot, if the product cannot be found in locally, then she looks for it online. “If I order online for the holidays, I try to do it months in advance cause shipping takes forever,” she said. Price point is definitely an advantage.

“A lot of the things that I find here on island, whenever I look for it online, is actually cheaper. Even with shipping, if you find the right site,” she said. With the disadvantages, she said, “you’d have to wait for clothes to know if they’d fit. With electronics, something could happen in transit where it gets broken or the item itself doesn’t work.”

This year, the Department of Revenue and Taxation said they are proposing to tax online sales, which create a buzz among the online shopping community. For some Guam residents, imposing an online sale tax is a step back since it took a long time before e-commerce took off on island. Years ago, some online retailers even pose shipping restrictions and leave out Guam in their list despite being a U.S, territory. While there are still some e-commerce sites that continue to apply these shipping restrictions, Amazon, Wal-Mart and eBay now ship products to Guam.

Moreover,a ruling issued by the U.S. Supreme Court long ago only allows states to collect sales taxes on online purchases if the seller has a physical location within the state’s border.

The federal ruling requires seller’s physical presence in a certain location.

Roki Calvo, who does over 25 percent of his shopping online, said Amazon and the other retailers tend to have things that Guam doesn’t have. In terms of disadvantages, he said, “the money leaves off island, the shipping takes awhile or it takes too much to get things shipped here.”

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