What You Need To Know About Launching Your Own E-commerce Business In Singapore

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If you are looking to enter the world of entrepreneurship and launch your own e-commerce business, Singapore may be the perfect place to do so. In 2020, e-commerce remains one of the fastest-growing segments in the digital sector of Singapore. According to predictions from Go-Globe, the e-commerce market is expected to rake in US$2.7 billion in 2020 alone and by 2025, it will exceed US$100 billion. The convenience of online shopping continues to captivate shoppers in Singapore, particularly the middle class. More recently, the Covid-19 outbreak has seen a record number of businesses shift their businesses online in a bid to retain customers and survive, making e-commerce all the more lucrative. With a current penetration rate of 70.4, your chances of launching a successful e-commerce business are high if you take the appropriate measures to support your business.

Market Research Is King: Is There A Need For Your Product?

Before you can launch your e-commerce business, you must first establish whether there is a need for your product. This is where market research comes in. You can begin by researching industry-wide and competitor statistics. Blog Candy estimates there are 5,000 to 7,000 e-commerce businesses currently active in Singapore.

Using this data, you can then narrow it down to your immediate competitors. For example, the electronics industry accounts for 25.1 percent of the Total Addressable Market. Going a step further in your analysis, social media scouting and user surveys can help you pinpoint the leading models already on the market. Then, you can design a mock-up using price variations, design and packaging to gauge customer interest.

Create The Support: What Infrastructure Do You Need To Make It Work?

Besides having a well-designed e-commerce website and payment platforms, you may need to secure additional behind the scenes infrastructure to support the smooth operation of your business. This will include a storage space (warehouse or storage rental unit) to keep goods and raw materials between sourcing and sales. 

Besides storage and transport facilities, e-commerce businesses will need the appropriate hardware and software to advertise their products, allow online checkout, and collect payment from a variety of payment platforms such as Paypal or credit cards. Hardware components will include computers, routers, and servers while software refers to firewalls and cybersecurity programs, payment gateways such as Apple Pay, Google Checkout and other small business accounting tools like cashflow and accounting software.

Fulfil The Legalities: What Regulations Do You Need?

As a new business owner, it is important that you are familiar with the rules governing e-commerce businesses in Singapore. Depending on the product you plan on selling, there will be guidelines that you need to comply with. For example, e-merchants retailing second-hand goods are covered by the Second Hand Dealers Act, which seeks to prevent the sale of stolen goods. Meanwhile, the Sales of Goods Act covers customers in Singapore and contains terms — such as the description of goods — that must match the actual item received and it must be of satisfactory quality. 

Establish A Supply Chain: Do You Have Working Agreements In Place With Vendors?

Once you have decided on the product you plan to offer in your e-commerce store, you must ask yourself the question: “Where am I getting my supplies from?” This may include the finished product, partly finished product, or raw materials. There will most likely be more than one supplier available that you can utilise. However, it is up to choose the suppliers that suit your business’ budget, delivery timeframe, and quality levels. It is also recommended that you have a contingency plan in place when it comes to your supply chain. If one-off events like the Covid-19 pandemic have shown anything, it is the importance of businesses having a supply plan in place and the importance of establishing adequate buffer stock. 

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Open Market Or Subscription Based: What Is The Best Delivery Model For Your Product?

Pinpointing popular delivery models such as subscription services helps you shape the best way to advertise and deliver your product(s) to consumers. This will also depend on the product or service you intend to offer for sale. For instance, if you plan on including specialty goods or a tailored service such as coaching, offering a curated delivery option may be more appealing. However, although the subscription economy raked in $2.6 billion in 2016 and has been touted as the rising sales model in Southeast Asia, not every product will be suited to it. Some products that are one-off purchases defeat the purpose of the subscription model. Therefore, you may be better off offering them in your e-commerce store year-round. 

Capture An Audience: Is Your Marketing And Social Media Branding Strategy Relevant And Ready To Go?

Finally, it is time to get the word out about your new e-commerce business. Low-cost marketing strategies such as search engine optimisation (SEO) and display of customer reviews can prove to be very effective for a new business. With 84 percent of customers trusting online reviews, this is a great place to start if you want to build customer trust. 

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You may also want to consider establishing a social media presence or getting into content marketing. Blog marketing remains very popular — with 57 percent of marketers saying they have gained new customers through blogging. Marketers with a blog also get 67 percent more leads than those without one. For social media, video content marketing is popular since 80 percent of people prefer watching a video than reading a post. Brands that use social media to engage with their customers also rake in 20-40 percent more revenue than those that do not. Useful tools such as Facebook Pixel and social proofing can help your new e-commerce business stand out.

There is no better time to have an e-commerce business. Even with all of the disruption currently going on in the world, the online business world remains relatively untouched compared to others. If you are looking to take advantage of this increased demand for online shopping or simply kickstart your e-commerce idea, these considerations can help you do so successfully.

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.
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March 31, 2020

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