Latest E-Commerce Trends in Singapore

ecommerce trends and facts in singapore

Singapore is one of the fastest growing economies in South East Asia. With more than 80% of the population relying on the internet as the primary source of information, it is not difficult to see why e-commerce is growing at a fast pace in the country. Recent reports indicated that the internet economy in not just Singapore but entire Southeast Asia is currently $50 billion and it is expected to surpass $200 billion by 2025.

Research done by iPrice Group shows that e-commerce transactions exceeded $10 billion in 2017, up from 2015 $5.5 billion. Some of the major events that contributed significantly to this growth include the entry of Amazon into the region via Singapore, the stunning growth rate of Lazada through its Online Revolution Campaign that generated $250 million in sales, Shopee expanding market base in the area, increased investment by Chinese internet gurus such as Tencent and Alibaba. For example, Alibaba spent $2 billion in Lazada in a bid to boost its regional expansion plans.

More Singaporeans Prefer Shopping Online

Singapore is currently experiencing an e-commerce industry boom as evident from numerous reports published online. One such report done by Flipit revealed that three in every five Singaporeans prefer shopping online. Last year, the market revenue per user was $1,022.

Based on the fact that 82% of the city-state population has access to fast internet connection and spend most of the time online, the e-commerce market is expected to grow by 11.2% by 2021. This growth will make the industry match Canada and Australia’s e-commerce penetration rate.

Southeast Asian E-Commerce Agreement

The Chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is pushing for actualization for e-commerce agreement. The agreement is tailored to help both major and SEMs to expand their operations in the region. To achieve this goal, the agreement will streamline trading policies and rules, promote digital connectivity, and reduce business barriers.

According to a recent statement by Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry, Lim Hng, the agreement will enable SEM and aspiring business entrepreneurs to provide their services and products across the region more conveniently. In addition, the agreement will make it safer for businesses to receive and send electronic payments.

Below are the latest e-commerce trends that shape the industry in Singapore.

Cash-on-Delivery (COD) Still Reigns Supreme

e-commerce trends

As the name suggests, this is a type of transaction where the clients pay for the goods at the time of delivery. Here in Singapore, this mode of payment still reigns supreme and most online shoppers prefer it to the conventional payment methods.

73% of the total population in the region do not transact business through financial institutions such as banks. This statistics is because cash-on-delivery accounts for more than two-thirds of all business transactions. Despite the advancement in commercial technology, most Singaporeans are not aware of the benefits of using some of the online payment methods available.

Increase in Mobile Phone Marketing

Most businesses in Singapore are investing more in mobile phone and social media marketing techniques. The high smartphone penetration is one of the primary reasons why mobile phone marketing is so effective in the country. Most people use their mobile device to look for information online and shop for products from online stores.

Untapped Website Conversion Rate

Simply put, the conversion rate is the percentage of website visitors who end up purchasing products or requesting for a service. There is a need for e-commerce websites in Singapore to come up with robust SEO and digital marketing strategies to boost conversion rate. A high conversion rate will result in more online shopping activity.

Shoptiq Enabling SMEs to Venture into E-commerce

E-commerce platforms such as Shoptiq are making it possible for small and medium enterprises to venture into e-commerce. It does this by providing all the tools they require to create an online store from scratch and promote it online.

Unlike in the past, it is now possible to create an online store in one day or less. Shoptiq and other similar platforms are also aware of the fact that most people access the internet using mobile devices. As a result, they provide different mobile responsive templates that can be integrated with international payment processors such as PayPal. The templates also allow businesses to access credit card and debit card payments from clients.

In addition, Shoptiq offers additional services meant to help businesses succeed online such as store design, product photography, and product copywriting. These additional services make it possible for the SMEs to connect with clients via various online platforms and marketplaces such as Lazada and social media sites such as Facebook.

Large Purchases Done on Desktop

According to iPrice Group report, most Singaporeans who make large purchases do it on desktop platforms more frequently than mobile platforms. The report also revealed that a majority of the investments are done between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. In Singapore, the highest number of online purchases is done at 10 p.m.

Nonetheless, mobile e-commerce platforms are recording unstoppable growth thanks to the increased smartphone penetration in the country. As mentioned earlier, most people use their mobile devices to shop online. Concisely, mobile e-commerce transactions account for 72% of all Singapore e-commerce online traffic. Last year, the traffic increased at an average rate of 19% over a span of 12 months.

Aggressive Investment from Large Chinese Internet Companies

Tencent and Alibaba, two of the major Chinese internet companies, are aggressively investing in e-commerce not only in Singapore but also in other Southeast Asia countries such as Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand. Experts foresee the two firms gobbling up some of the local SMEs that have shown great potential in a bid to boost their popularity and business in the country.

High Credit Card Penetration

Multiple reports show that Singapore has the highest credit card penetration in entire Southeast Asia. The reports also indicate that this trend is expected to increase by 10% in the next three years.

Here are tips that will ensure your e-commerce platform in Singapore is successful.

Focus on Getting Many Customer Reviews

It is almost impossible to sell any product online without establishing a connection with the customers and building trust. Trust is the primary driver in every purchasing decision especially if your online store does not provide cash on delivery option.

Customer reviews will significantly help you to build trust and compete effectively with other online stores. Note that research shows 92% of customers would rather trust recommendations from colleagues and friends that promotional materials posted online. Encourage your clients to leave feedback on your store as well as on social media sites such as Facebook.

Most of the successful e-commerce sites in Singapore display the customer reviews on their category and product pages. Honest, insightful, and authentic reviews have the potential of increasing your sales by up to 76%.

Lower Abandoned Carts

One of the problems that Singapore e-commerce platforms deal with on a daily basis is shopping cart abandonment. Some industries record as high as 68.63% average cart abandonment rate and solving this problem is not easy. Clients decide to leave for a number of reasons such as not having enough money to complete the purchase or the payment options provide do not suit them.

Pay close attention to your online store abandonment cart rate and work on lowering it. Customer feedback can give you an idea of why the clients decide not to complete a purchase. Sending remarketing emails to customers who abandoned their shopping carts can also help to increase your site’s conversion rate.

Compelling Email Marketing Campaigns

Email marketing provides the highest ROI in Singapore. Compelling email marketing campaigns will help you to establish a strong connection with the target customers. One of the main reasons why most Singapore e-commerce sites fail to achieve their set sales goals is because they do not deliver compelling emails to the target audience consistently.

e-commerce trends

Note that increasing the opt-in rate for your emailing list is not the only guaranteed way of harnessing the potent power of email marketing. You need to go an extra mile and provide value to motivate the potential clients to stay subscribed. The consumers already expressed a degree of trust by joining your mailing list; it would be detrimental to your business to fill their inbox with hundreds of unnecessary emails.

Use Customer Case Studies

Customer case studies that show your product in action is one of the best ways of increasing buyer confidence and trust. The case studies will show potential clients who are yet to convert that the product delivers on its promise. The best case study offers recommendations and tips that are based on customers’ first-hand experience using the product.

Promote on Social Media Platforms

The number of active social media users in Singapore has increased tremendously over the last three years. Research estimates that by 2021, more than 3.93 million Singaporeans will be on social media. Already, e-commerce companies are using various platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to connect with their customers at a social level.

Instagram, in particular, records the highest engagement records, especially with mobile users. It is the perfect place to share user-generated content such as images and videos. As mentioned earlier, the social community prefer recommendations from peers and other clients. If they see other clients using the product and getting the expected results, they will most likely go ahead and purchase it.

Product Preference

Singaporeans are some of the most active online shoppers in the world, thanks to a burgeoning e-commerce market and rapidly changing e-commerce trends in Singapore. According to the 2015 Nielsen report, 41% of Singaporeans prefer browsing online, and as much as 17% rely solely on online shopping channels.

In another study by Edelman and Criteo of new trends in e-commerce in Singapore, 64% of Singaporeans bought travel products, 57% bought apparel and shoes while 48% bought entertainment product. Beauty products were fourth at 38%, electronic equipment fifth with 32%, and books sixth with 31%.

The Shift from Data Collection to Data Utilisation

One of the major trends in e-commerce industry in Singapore is that brands are collecting customer data via their websites, social media, and charts. The data can be used to create effective digital marketing strategies as well as in creating buyer personas.

While customer data collection is one of the current trends in e-commerce industry in Singapore, only a few brands have the capacity to utilise it. In a survey by e-commerceIQ, data analysis remains one of the biggest hurdles to Southeast Asia e-commerce platforms.

Brands are constantly searching for big data aggregators to consolidate the data in one place for use in their targeting, retargeting ads campaigns as well as to give consumers personalised shopping experience.

In this light, e-commerce platforms in Singapore have two options, to either find a way of utilising the data or continue struggling with poor customer experience.

Social Commerce Brands the New Marketplaces

Businesses in Singapore long used social media to sell goods even before e-commerce, as we know it today.

Brands have used Facebook groups and pages to sell and connect with customers. This was before Facebook launched its Marketplace feature. With over 90% of Singaporeans using social media, brands are using social media platforms as online shops.

Following the success of Facebook as a social commerce platform, other social media platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram have followed suit with shopping features and are fuelling retail e-commerce trends in Singapore and the world over.

In an interview with Forbes, Facebook Marketplace Vice President, Deb Liu, said that brands would miss out if they do not cultivate a social media presence to converse with current and potential customers.

Brands To Fund User-Generated Content and Reinforce Reviews

E-marketplaces in Singapore and Southeast Asia are busily upscaling and developing add-ons, which are geared towards providing customers with a better, and more personalised shopping experiences.

Looking at the e-commerce trends in Singapore, customers begin their online shopping journey by searching for product information and reading reviews before making a purchase. They are looking for real opinions and user-generated reviews to validate the products.

e-commerce trends

However, the culture of leaving reviews is not as common in Singapore as it is in more developed markets such as in the US. When they do, they leave little information about the product and more on their purchasing experience.

With that said, chatbots are increasingly becoming popular on e-marketplaces, but they are not creating personalised shopping experiences. To counter this, current trends in e-commerce industry in Singapore shows that e-marketplaces are focusing on reinforcing reviews and funding user-generated content.

E-Commerce Marketplaces to Launch New Services

E-commerce brands in more developed markets are differentiating themselves from the competition by launching new services. This allows them to have a firm control on the supply chain. These services are geared towards driving more sellers on board. This has become one of the most significant e-commerce trends in Singapore today.

For example, Singapore’s Qoo10 is on course to launch QuuBee, a blockchain-based e-commerce site. The inclusion of blockchain technology will eliminate the transaction and listing fees and in turn, this move will increase the seller’s profit margin. Eventually, this will allow for a more sustainable approach to e-commerce.

Looking at the current trends in e-commerce industry in Singapore it is expected that e-marketplaces will continue competing with each other through the launch of new services, partnerships, and acquisitions.

Direct-To-Consumer Strategies for Acquiring Direct Consumer Data

The e-commerce trends in Singapore show that brands are competing on customer shopping experience grounds, and the Direct-To-Consumer approach is one of the significant retail ecommerce trends in Singapore today. This approach allows brands to gain insights into the final consumer and to anticipate their needs.

E-commerce subscription is one of the popular DTC approaches, which allows for the creation of a more personalised and cheaper way of getting customers to buy what they need. From the brands perspective, it is a subtle yet convenient way of developing customer loyalty in the digital landscape.

E-sampling is another common strategy used by brands to evaluate demand. Typical sampling methods are expensive, but e-sampling can save brands as much as 40% in associated costs, and it provides brands with essential customer data.

As more brands continue to take up DTC approaches, consumers can brace themselves for attractive marketing and advertising campaigns. Brands stand to gain insights and entice customers to spend more on their brands in this wave of e-commerce trends in Singapore.

Doubling Down On Omnichannel

Different e-commerce brands have diverse interpretations of omnichannel shopping experience. Recent e-commerce trends in Singapore show that Amazon and Alibaba are making a move to physical retail. This move is aimed at helping them solve the core problems plaguing the online shopping experience.

Pure-play e-commerce brands and retailers have points towards a limited pool of shoppers and fragmented infrastructure as their biggest challenges facing the e-commerce sector today. They are now promoting offline marketing as a better alternative to increase sales.

For example, Love, Bonito has opened 17 physical outlets in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Cambodia. In this light, brands should take advantage of dual online and physical presence to boost sales and growth.

The e-commerce landscape in Singapore and Southeast Asia is highly volatile. However, the secret to remaining competitive is to be on the lookout for e-commerce trends in Singapore.


The e-commerce industry in Singapore is headed in the right direction and will only get better with time thanks to the grants and support the government offers to SMEs. Be sure to monitor the trends and continue to apply the best online marketing strategies to continue generating sales and reigning supreme in this lucrative industry.

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.

November 10, 2018

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