The Jakarta Post
The Internet is making life easier for 26-year-olds Yodie Hardiyan and Theosa Dinar Swastiningtyas who compare prices online before booking tickets to visit their families or traveling elsewhere.
'I return to Salatiga [Central Java] or travel to other cities one to three times every three months. I always order the travel tickets or hotel vouchers online,' said Yodie, who compared train and air ticket prices via his smartphone before making a purchase.
Meanwhile, Theosa had a budget of around Rp 1.7 million (US$129) to buy tickets online once every three months.
'I usually buy round-trip airplane or train tickets for Jakarta to Banjarmasin [South Kalimantan] or Jakarta to Surakarta [Central Java],' said Theosa, who added that she had made it a habit in the last four years to buy airline tickets online.
They both agreed that online shopping, particularly for travel tickets, saved a lot of time, especially as both lived in Jakarta, which was well known for its heavy traffic, which made it difficult to commute.
Yodie and Theosa represent a small part of Internet users in Indonesia who are opting to buy flight tickets online, according to a recent study by Google and TNS dubbed the 'Consumer Barometer Survey'.
The most common online purchase for Internet users in Indonesia is flight tickets (24 percent), followed by apparel (13 percent) and hotel booking (12 percent), according to the study.
This underscores the importance of the Internet to the airline, garment, fashion and hotel industries, as well as other business sectors in the country that can benefit from online sales.
The study also found that consumers in Indonesia now put more thought into their purchases, as 30 percent of the country's web users researched their last purchase online.
However, this number was lower than web users in some neighboring countries (85 percent in Thailand, 75 percent in Vietnam and 67 percent in the Philippines).
Yodie said he had a number of mobile applications installed on his smartphone to check ticket prices.
However, the final purchase was always done via his laptop, which had a larger screen for more accuracy and a faster Internet connection.
'The mobile applications are good tools to quickly check prices, but they sometimes work poorly,' he said.
Theosa agreed and said she made purchases with her 10-inch tablet.Other than travel tickets, Theosa also bought apparel and cosmetic items online around four to six times a month.
According to her, online shopping had eased her daily routine as she did not have to set aside time to go to travel agencies or clothing stores.
Although Theosa once had a bad experience when shopping for dresses online, that did not stop her from making more online purchases, particularly airline tickets.
Given the country's growing middle class, a third of the country's 250 million population now has access to the Internet. That number is forecast to increase to around 55 percent in 2017, according to a UBS report.
'With almost a third of people in Indonesia using smartphones, companies must ensure that they can 'meet' with their consumers through handsets,' Google Indonesia account strategist Ricky Tjok said in a statement.
Smart businesses would be the ones that were able to keep up with the more prominent role of cell phones in buying activities, the statement read.
Domestic telecommunication operators have started to tap into this potential as they get more serious about developing their e-commerce businesses. PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Telkom), PT XL Axiata and PT Indosat have allocated a generous amount of investment this year to revamp their e-commerce businesses.
The government is also planning to issue an 'e-commerce road map' in the next three to six months to provide clear guidelines on logistics services, payment gateways and taxes for the e-commerce industry, according to Communications and Information Minister Rudiantara.
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