How to Start An Online Business In Singapore

best ways to start online business

Technology has significantly changed the way Online Business are run. E-commerce is steadily growing and we can predict that in future most businesses transactions we be done on the internet. When shopping brands like eBay and Amazon emerged more than two decades ago, many people saw them as passing clouds. They have grown so much that major industries such as food &beverage, fashion and technology have online stores where customers can easily purchase items.

The Great Leveller For Businesses

The internet has made the business playing field level. With a computer, you can start an online business to earn yourself some cash. This does not require any technical experience or programming knowledge. You don’t need much knowledge to be able to develop your business websites. The internet has provided entrepreneurs with a common medium in which you work at your own pace according to your business ambitions. More so, there are lots of free services making it easy for you start your internet business with no money or a little start-up capital. For example, you can use WordPress to set up a blog or website for free or use the third party such as eBay or Amazon to sell your goods. You will give them a cut of your sales in return. There are some steps that you can follow for your new online business in Singapore to be successful. This article will go through how to start an online business in Singapore.

Singapore’s Digital Marketing and Market Size

Technology has developed digital tools that utilise online presence as a marketing platform. The program is offering equal chances to both big and small company brands to market their goods and services. Singapore is one of the top countries that has dramatically welcomed online business marketing developments. In 2018, it obtained the world largest segment in search advertising. Recent research statistics in Singapore revealed that about fifty-five percent of the population accessing the internet use their google to search or purchase products. While most of the Singaporeans ranging at 3.2 million access the internet through mobile devices, the online digital usage is generally high in Singapore. The small and large company are turning to digital marketing as the statistics reveal of how Singapore has become highly digitalized. With these vast developments in Singapore, you should not be left behind in starting your online business.

E-commerce in Singapore

In Singapore, businesses should adopt e-commerce if they want to gain success in the years to come. Why is this so? Singapore has a total population of 5.6 million, of which 4.7 million are active daily internet users and 2.9 million have used e-commerce at some point in their lives. This means that there is a huge market out there and smart businesses should dive in early enough. The only problem is that SMEs face challenges like time, experience and limited resources.

 For a business to succeed in e-commerce, there is need for third party web store builders who are instrumental in tackling issues like collection of customers’ data, attractive web design, security of payments and optimised delivery schedules.

Having an online store has tremendous advantages. Most customers love the convenience that comes with purchasing products online, considering that online stores are usually open 24/7. All that they require is either a smart phone or a laptop and the product is delivered right to their doorstep. In order to grow your businesses, e-commerce retailers can keep track of their customers’ habits and offer services that satisfy their needs. This will ensure the retention of these customers.

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Setting up an online business

Believe it or not, starting your own online business is pretty simple. However, a key part of your success is knowing how to move efficiently. If you are a Singapore entrepreneur and are interested in exposing your products or services to millions of potential customers, then here are seven things that you need to do in order to quickly get your website up and running

1. Identify a specific need

The biggest mistake that people make when starting an online business is looking for a product first then the market. You need first to establish the vacuum space in the current market for you to have higher chances of success. For you to carry out this market research, visit online website forums to establish the questions people ask frequently and the problem, they want to solve. You can also do keyword research in a move to determining the keywords most people are searching while not many sites are providing. Lastly, you can visit the websites of your potential competitors and see what you can do better. This way, you will come up with products that have an already existing market.

Here’s what most people do when starting their online business. They look around for a product that they think will sell well. And then they look for an audience who is most likely to purchase that product. This is the wrong approach. Instead of looking for your product first, look for your audience first. You need to be on the lookout for a common problem that people are having. What solutions are people searching for?

You need to conduct a market research and analysis in order to determine if the idea you have come with can be used to develop a good business. This is a crucial step because when you dive into the business without proper planning, you may end up losing your hard-earned cash. Once the process is complete, you can easily tell if the idea is okay, needs a little tweaking or isn’t viable.

After identifying an idea to work on, find out how you will satisfy the needs of your potential customers. This can be easily done by visiting forums and reading through all of the posts and comments. You can do a keyword search to find the terms and phrases that people are looking for in Google’s search engine. You can even visit your potential competitor’s site and find out what demand they are filling. You can then use all of this information to come up with a product or services that either has very little competition or is in very high demand or both.

Before beginning operations, it is advisable to incorporate your business. This step is vital because the type of business structure you pick will determine your ability to raise capital, exposure to liability and your taxes. A significant number of entrepreneurs are in favour of a private limited company because of its numerous advantages like: perpetual succession, limited liability, credible image and a legal entity status. In addition to that, registration of a private limited company in Singapore is a quick process that can be done within 24 hours. Remember to have in place the necessary infrastructure such as operations & customer support, web design & development and website marketing & advertising before you begin.

  • Overview of the e-commerce industry in Singapore

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Before you start an online business, consider doing a little research on thee-commerce industry in Singapore. Most Singaporeans have access to internet at home and prefer to order items online rather than physically get them from retail shops the traditional way. Many aspiring entrepreneurs are opting to launch their business online. A 2011 MasterCard Survey revealed that 2 in 3 Singaporeans Access the internet to shop online.

In a Nielsen survey (2011), of the 85% of Singaporeans who were active social media users, 69% used it to connect and engage with brands and companies. These statistics indicate that more Singaporeans are opting to conduct business transactions online. Studies show that the most commonly sold items are: apparel and fashion accessories, health and beauty products, music, toys and games, books, office supplies, consumer electronics such as cameras and computer hardware & software.

Most online businesses in Singapore have gained tremendous success because of various factors. One is flexible payment methods, where a majority of buyers use internet bank transfer rather than PayPal or credit cards. Secondly, there is a high demand for niche products. This includes products that cater to specific audiences/communities and international products which are not readily available in the local market.

Thirdly, Singaporean online businesses are famed for their reliable logistics services. For instance, products are shipped to local and overseas customers in the shortest time possible. This strengthens the relationship between buyers and e-retailers and boosts sales. Lastly, secure electronic transactions are also a factor. Most online buyers trust e-commerce websites which have a TrustSg mark.

2. Write captivating copy

So you’ve found the perfect product or service. Now it’s time to create the thing that will draw people to your website so that they can learn more about what you have to offer. You can begin creating copy. But you shouldn’t write content that simply sells what you have to offer. It has to be something that people will be captivated by. It has to be useful and compelling. Luckily, there are a few things you can do in order to make sure that your copy grabs your audience’s attention every time.

You should use headlines that are compelling and that arouse their interest. You can describe the problem that your service or product solves. You can add testimonials from people who have benefited from your business. You can create a sense of urgency within your content.

Research has come up with a well-proven sales copy formula. The sales copy drives the visitors throughout the marketing process from visiting your website to making a purchase. Firstly, use a compelling headline to arouse the interest of your visitors. After getting them interested, clearly, state the problem solved by your products. Establishing credibility to your online visitors is crucial. This can be achieved through the use of testimonials from the people who have previously purchased your product. Blog posts and articles about the importance of your product could as well promote your customers lead conversions. Other components of sales copy formula include making product offers, establishing a strong guarantee, creating urgency and asking for the sale. Simply, your business sells copy should primarily focus on the benefits of the products to the consumers.


3. Build your website

Now that you have crafted winning content, you need a place where the content can be featured. Your website is going to play a huge role in attracting clients. And if you’re not careful, it could also play a role in scaring them away. So it’s important that you invest time into creating a website that is user-friendly. One of the best design tips you can implement is simplicity. Make sure that you don’t add anything to the site that will distract the users from your main message.You might want to check this out if you’re at this stage.

A simple website design is one that makes good use of white space. There are only one or two fonts. The navigation is very clear and is the same for each and every page. Only use graphics if they help to further promote your main message. Include an offer so that your visitors can submit their email addresses for your mailing list. Also, make sure that your checkout process only involves one or two clicks. 

To come up with a simple and customer friendly business website, take two plain fonts on a white background. The online visitors should be able to navigate through all the website pages easily. In case you upload audio, graphics or video, they should serve the purpose of enhancing your message. Additionally, you should provide an offer for those who sign in to your email listing. You have to keep in mind that the visitors are on your website for less than five seconds. Making your site easy to buy from customer friendly.


4. Drive traffic with search engine marketing

When you’re trying to promote a brand new website, one of the easiest ways to get traffic is by using PPC, or pay per click advertising. And there are two major advantages to using this form of advertising.

PPC (Pay-per-click) provides best and easiest method of driving traffic to a new website. Instead of organically waiting for your site to have traffic, PPC services can be of great help. The PPC ads immediately show up on the search pages. Additionally, it enables you to test different headlines, keywords, prices and selling approaches. In this way, you will be able to know the highest converting keyword which will work best for your business. You can then use the keyword in the different sections of your website in copy and code. This technic will give you immediate traffic and higher ranking in search engines.

You can then use this keyword information in your headlines for your organic marketing, or SEO. While PPC can cost a lot. SEO has very little cost involved and by combining these two strategies, you can earn a significant amount of traffic. If you’re not exactly sure how PPC and SEO works, you could always work with a digital marketing agency and get a consultation.


5. Become an authority

One of the biggest reasons why people use the internet is so that they can find information. So if you would like to get more traffic, then you need to be able to provide them with this information.  Not only that but this information should be valuable–something that makes their life much easier. And it’s best that you give away as much information as you possibly can, for free.

Search for websites that focus on topics that are related to your niche. You can either ask them to share your content with their audience or offer to write a post for free on their website. In many cases, these website will be glad to link to your content, as long as it offers value. Just remember to include a link on whatever website you choose to give the information to. Google loves backlinks.

Look for ways to make people’s lives easier by creating guides and tutorials. You can distribute this information through article directories. You can even give it away on your social media platforms and ask others to share it. Hang out with your target audience, offer them helpful advice, and you will soon been seen as an industry expert.

Most people see the internet as a source of information. Producing expert content is one of the ways of getting people to visit your site. Give the information for free to other sites to expose your expertise to the broader majority of internet users. This will result in a better search engine ranking and more traffic to your site. Remember always to include a link to your site with each video, article, blog or any other content you create. You can also provide “send to a friend” links for valuable contents. Upload these contents throughout social media platforms and directories. Moreover, you can prove expertise by actively participating in social media forums that carry your target audience. Getting quality backlinks for other sites for your post is the best source of search traffic to your website. Google gives a higher priority to link to website posts and ranks them higher. The secret is writing great content that will move other sites. In this way, they will share the content on their platforms increasing the chances of getting quality backlinks for your posts.

6. Use email marketing

Email marketing is a more effective and cheaper method of promoting your online business as compared to radio, TV or print. An email listing is a valuable asset for digital marketing. Your visitors permit you to send them your business email. This is of great significance as you will send them what they have asked for, it enables you to develop a lifetime customer relationship, and the response is a hundred percent measurable. Email is the best way to follow up potential customers to keep them revisiting your site.

Whenever someone signs up for your newsletter, this means that you now have the permission to reach out to them. And this gives you the ability to cultivate a long-term relationship with your audience. The great thing about email marketing is that it gives you access to a large amount of people who are interested in what you have to offer and it costs little to nothing. Your email list is the best source of leads you will ever have.

7. Make back-end sales and upsales

The tricky part in online marketing is closing the first sale. However, you need the customers to come back for more products for your business to grow. You need to follow up with them through back-end and to upsell to increase your income. This is done by either offering complementary products for previous purchase, offering related products on the thank you page or sending out electronic loyalty coupons for them to redeem during their next visit. Make your customers more loyal by rewarding them.

One element that a lot of Singapore business owners often overlook when developing a new business is estimating how much each of their customers is worth. More specifically, they do not take the time to estimate their customers’ lifetime value. Research shows that almost 40% of the people who have made at least one purchase from you will inevitably make another purchase from you in the future.What does this mean? Well, it means that the most difficult and crucial part is getting someone to buy from you for the first time.

So this means that you need to become a master at upselling. You have a special opportunity to make more sales by promoting products to those who have already made a purchase from you. So make sure that you reach out to former customers. Let them know that you have products that will be a great addition to the one that they have already purchased. Send out special coupons to your most loyal clients and let them know that they can be redeemed upon their next visit. And always offer related products on your thank you page.

Online Businesses That You Can Start with No Money

Once you start up your online business by following the discussed steps, the internet has many online ways of making money at a little or no cost. This article will guide you through the top five best ways of making money online.


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  1. Online Drop Shipping


When starting up an online business, you have no substantial amount of capital to maintain a large inventory, owning a warehouse for your products or manufacture products. This is why working with a drop shipping company is a perfect strategy for you. Upload your products on sale on your website or other selling on platforms such as eBay or Amazon. After your customers buy the product, you purchase the product from the drop shipper at a lower price. The process simply involves forwarding the customer order to the third-party company. The drop shipper will deliver the product to your customer. This strategy involves no risk plus you can deal with a wide range of products. However, drop shipping requires a super reputable drop shipper as customers blame you for low-quality products and late delivery. You can use a private label to make a different brand for your products in a bid to reduce the high competition.


  1. Affiliate Marketing


Want to get money while you rest? Affiliate marketing is how you can get started. Affiliate Marketing revolves around the concept of promoting products of other people through an affiliate network. You afterward earn a commission of the products bought courtesy of your marketing. For those who have products that they want to sell more, they can offer a financial incentive to promoters through the affiliate program. This principle is based on revenue sharing. You don’t have to worry about maintaining your products inventory or shipping products. Every product has its unique link tracking back to website account of affiliate partner. The customers are taken to partners shopping cart for check out. After the purchase is recorded, you will be given a commission varying depending on the affiliate partner. This can range from five percent to fifty percent. Your only role is handling the marketing for your prospects to buy.


  1. Blogging


Blogging involves making money from a subject you have passion or expertise on. It is easy for you to start your blog site and personal hosting for a low price. Other than writing, blogging also involves posting photos, links, videos, and reposting news to other sites as long as its related to your niche. Your blog should provide unique and useful content that is rarely found on other sites. Moreover, you should upload new blog posts regularly and consistently to maintain your readers base. The different methods of earning money through blogging include Google AdSense, affiliate marketing and blog ad networks.


  1. Online Video


YouTube is one of the world most popular website with millions of videos for its more than a billion users. This provides a perfect platform for you to earn money by making a good video and uploading it on YouTube. To maximize your video YouTube views, the video should contain useful content that will make people want to watch it. You can choose a specific niche and make a video on what a target audience want to see. Create your personal YouTube account and start uploading videos. Enabling monetization on your YouTube settings allows Google to include short AdSense ads with your videos. You get paid when viewers click on those ads. You should make sure that you post our videos on other social media software including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to extend your reach. Having a large following gives you an opportunity to promote large companies through paid sponsorships.


  1. Information Products


Online internet business is not all about the marketing of physical products. Digital information products provide a quick and easy way of making money outside affiliate marketing. The most famous methods of developing information products include audio as a recorded teleconference, video as a recorded webinar and text as an eBook. These categories provide a creative platform for you to make any type of engaging content. You just have to upload these products for sale on your website, and a customer will buy and download them at any time. You can periodically check for the information products selling best to make more of those.


Regulations in the e-commerce industry

The Singaporean government provides rules and regulations that govern online businesses in Singapore. Some of the regulations include:

  • Consumer protection regulation – an example is the Sale of Goods Act which states that goods sold should be of good quality.
  • Protection and Security of Digital Data – the acts in this category covers issues like security of credit card payments and protection of personal information.
  • Intellectual Property protection in the Cyberspace – Under this there is the Copyright Act which protects anyone other than the owner of the copyright from publicly distributing, copying, adapting, broadcasting and reproducing the work.


Anyone running or planning to open an e-commerce business in Singapore must know the tax requirements. Singapore has a liberal tax regime that provides plenty of incentives to SMEs. Taxes that apply to online businesses are categorized into two: Income tax and Goods and Services Tax (GST). The application of income tax depends on the following factors – residence, source and income classifications.

On the other hand, Goods and Services Tax, commonly referred to as Value Added Tax (VAT) in some countries is a tax (indirect) levied on the supply of goods and services in Singapore and the imported goods. Its application is on the selling price of goods and services in Singapore. A business must be GST registered in order to apply this tax. One of the rules for e-commerce businesses is that if a local buys goods online, they will be subject to GST.

Financial Assistance and Funding

With more Singaporeans making business transactions online, many people are planning to start e-commerce businesses. These online businesses can be quite expensive if you factor in expenses like merchant account fees, website development fees, marketing, and inventory costs. It is common to hear of investors who are willing to fund promising e-commerce ventures. The Singaporean government is supporting this industry by installing the necessary infrastructure and proving incentives to aspiring online entrepreneurs.

  • Business Loans – this is where one acquires funding to kick-start their business venture through debt financing. If you choose this type of financing, you will be able to retain ownership of the business. The only problem is that you will be required to pay your lender regardless of whether the business becomes a success or not.
  • Venture funding and Angel Investing – In this type of funding an investor/group of investors offer capital in exchange of shares in your business. It is especially great for budding entrepreneurs who cannot acquire traditional loans.


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Today, digital marketing, especially in Singapore, is fast growing. You cannot afford to be left out in starting an online business. The basic principles of starting your own online business are as simple as indicated above. If you have been in online business for some time, you can check the step that you are not following effectively. Additionally, you need to earn money for sustaining your online store. Make your self-conversant with the best ways to earn money online while keeping a close eye on social media discussions, online bestsellers, and trending topics. Make money today through digital marketing by starting up an online business.

It’s very easy to assume that starting an online business is difficult. However, in many cases, it only takes know which steps you should tackle first. By using the following tips, you will be able to cut out all of the unnecessary frustration that usually comes with starting your first business online. It may take a little time, but ultimately, you’ll see results!

Is it hard to start an online business?

It’s very easy to assume that starting an online business is difficult. However, in many cases, it only takes know which steps you should tackle first. It may take a little time, but ultimately, you’ll see results. By using the following tips, you will be able to cut out all of the unnecessary frustration that usually comes with starting your first business online:
1. Identify a specific need
2. Write captivating copy
3. Build your website
4. Drive traffic with search engine marketing
5. Become an authority
6. Use email marketing
7. Make back-end sales and upsales

Do I need to set up a company to sell online?

Before beginning operations, it is advisable to incorporate your business. This step is vital because the type of business structure you pick will determine your ability to raise capital, exposure to liability and your taxes.

What can I sell online in Singapore?

The biggest mistake that people make when starting an online business is looking for a product first then the market. You need first to establish the vacuum space in the current market for you to have higher chances of success.

What business is good for beginners?

The following is a list of online businesses that you can start with no money:
– Online Drop Shipping
– Affiliate Marketing
– Blogging
– Online Video
– Information Products

Author Bio

Tom Koh is widely recognised as a leading SEO consultant in Asia who has worked to transform the online visibility of the leading organisations such as SingTel, Capitaland, Maybank, P&G, WWF, etc. Recently he was instrumental in consulting for a New York-based US$30B fund in an US$4Bn acquisition. Tom is a Computational Science graduate of the National University of Singapore. In his free time he performs pro-bono community work and traveling.

April 30, 2018

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