Online Shopping in the Philippines

Online Shopping in the Philippines: How Deliveries Work

Online shopping is often described as convenient and easy. But though adding items to your cart is hassle-free, the logistics aspect can be nerve-racking.

We escape traffic by shopping online, but our orders will most likely get stuck in transit anyway. So, let me say this upfront, you’ll need some patience when expecting a package.

Basically, there are four segments in your shipment’s journey:

  • Pick-up (first mile)
  • Transfer and Transit (e.g. from Manila hub to Cebu hub)
  • Sorting (at the courier’s local hub)
  • Last-Mile Delivery.

The first mile, transit, and delivery segments are susceptible to delays. Simply because they are subject to weather disturbance, traffic, and human error.

You might also want to read Best Free Online Payment Methods in the Philippines

How long will your parcel arrive?

It really depends on the courier. But, generally, here are the acceptable timeframes for deliveries:

  • Within Cebu: 1-2 working days
  • Outside of Cebu: 3-7 working days
  • International orders: 12-15 working days.

Saturdays are counted as a working day, Sundays aren’t. So weekend deliveries may take longer.

Usually, the delivery schedule will be shown after you check out and confirm your order. To avoid disappointment, expect the latest delivery schedule. If it goes beyond the latest date, you should follow up with the seller to help track your order. Sometimes, the courier’s parcel tracking system isn’t updated accordingly or doesn’t work at all. Contacting the courier is also an option, but it may take some time to get a reply. Couriers here are notorious for their unresponsive customer service.

How does the courier find you

Most delivery drivers will call or text to inform you they’ll be delivering your package within the day. They will usually ask whether you are available to receive the item or who can receive it on your behalf.


If you haven’t already specified a landmark in your order form, give one to your delivery guy during the call. Additional instructions are welcome. If you have to walk to the agreed location, ask the courier to give you a call when they’re near. They would usually wait for you for a few minutes. Be ready.

Receive notification text

Most new couriers, like Ninja Van, XPost and Entrego, use an automated SMS notification system upon dispatch of your delivery. That means your parcel has arrived at their Cebu hub and is on the way to your doorstep! 

The SMS from Ninja Van includes a shortcode referring to the courier, the seller and your order number. It’s good to have this info when you’re expecting multiple parcels. Later, the delivery guy will contact you to ask whether you’re available to receive your package. Perhaps I’m a little biased, but I personally like Ninja Van because they’re always reliable and courteous.

The delivery driver texts/calls you

Other couriers, including LBC Express, J&T Express, and JRS Express, do not send automated text alerts. But the drivers will call or text you ahead of time.  

If you’re not at your specified delivery address, just inform them and they will try to drop by your location if it’s on their route for the day. Otherwise, they will ask to attempt the delivery the next day. Or if you have someone at home, you can tell them about the delivery and leave the payment with them (if it’s COD, of course).

A few more notes

Parcels will be sent back to the seller after 2 or 3 failed delivery attempts. 

If it happens, then you’re just going to have to contact the seller and work out how to get a refund. Or, you’ll need to reorder the item. 

In some cases, though, it is the courier’s fault. Rogue drivers are common and sometimes are to blame for damaged parcels or missing items. 

Here’s a ranking of local couriers in the Philippines. Check it out so you know which courier to choose if you are given the options by the seller.  

Just remember, every courier will have mixed reviews.

Looking for a place to rent in Cebu. Check out our article on How to find a place to rent in Cebu.