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

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

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.

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.

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.

Social Media Marketing Hacks for New Singapore Ecommerce Businesses

Singapore has the largest e-commerce marketing in South East Asia, estimated to be worth $4.9 billion. This market is expected to grow at an annual rate of 8.5% in 2021. The report also indicates that the average shopper in the country spends $1,456 per year buying products and services online.

The many incentives offered by the government to both local and international entrepreneurs are one of the main factors that fuel the growth. Already, we have discussed how to conduct market research, establish a supply chain, do marketing, and the difference between subscription-based and open market business models.

As a new eCommerce business, getting a firm footing in any market is usually tricky. There are countless hurdles that you have to jump over to generate leads and revenue. Unlike in the past, where businesses relied on traditional marketing strategies, modern companies have many options for communicating with customers and advertising their brands.

Social media is one such option that is considered a digital marketing powerhouse. At the time of writing this article, 2021, Singapore has 4.82 million active social media users. No matter which industry you are in, you cannot afford to ignore social media marketing when launching a new brand in Singapore.

Let us dive in and look at social media marketing hacks that you can use to grow your business. Be sure to stick around to the last one for a bonus tip.

  • Use Social Media Listening Tools

As a new business, you have a clue of the target audience. Still, you don’t have in-depth details about demographics, location, education level, marital status, and many more. All these factors have a direct influence on how they interact with your brand and its offerings.

Luckily, there are advanced social media listening tools that you can use to get a clear understanding of your target audience in Singapore. Check out this article for a comprehensive comparison to help you make an informed decision. 

Learn the ins and outs of each tool to find one that best matches your business interests. Consult widely, and don’t hesitate to contact the respective support team for clarification before purchasing any of the tools.

  • Hire Social Media Micro-Influencers

Influencer marketing is a new way of connecting with customers. It entails hiring some who has a substantial number of followers to market your brand. The followers must be already interested in your products.

For example, if you are a shoe brand, look for influencers who focus solely on shoes to get the maximum results and high engagement levels. Otherwise, you may end up spending thousands of dollars on an influencer marketing campaign targeting the wrong audience. 

We recently reviewed the top influencers in Singapore; check out our list for inspiration. Most of them charge high fees, so be sure to budget accordingly. However, because you are just starting, it is wise first to hire micro-influencers. They will help get the word out about your brand and get the ball rolling. 

As your eCommerce business grows, scale-up and hire prominent influencers to reach an even large audience. Like email marketing and SEO, keep tabs on the results each influencer generates to know if you should continue working with them or not. 

  • Consistency is the Secret Recipe for Success

Consistency is vital for not only small e-commerce businesses but also renowned brands. It makes it easy for potential customers to identify the brand when they come across its ad or product when shopping.

When creating your social media campaign, you should strive to give the target audience the same experience as your brand. That means the content that you post should be the same across all social media platforms. 

If you post a banner of an upcoming promotion on Twitter, you should use the same banner on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and any other platform you decide to use. A/B testing will enable you to determine which type of content resonates with your target customers best. 

Without consistency, customers will be confused. They won’t know if they interact with the same company whose ad they saw on a different platform.

  • Optimise Images for Different Platforms at Once

Different platforms have varying acceptable image requirements such as size and pixels. You will not always have the luxury of time to edit images for each platform separately. Luckily, tools such as Canva can help you create multiple versions of the same photo for posting on different social media channels. 

The tool is user-friendly and processes the images in seconds. No prior experience or special photo editing skills are required. By just clicking “Resize,” all the photos will be resized and displayed in different tabs, ready for posting.

  • Create Multiple Tweets from One Blog Post

Singapore has more than 1.75 million Twitter users. Marketing your new eCommerce on this network will enhance your other branding efforts significantly. However, just like image optimisation for different social media sites, you need to save time for other tasks and generate traffic from this platform.

By now, you probably have several blog posts on your website. Use Missinglettr, a free Twitter post scheduling tool, to efficiently post new tweets. By connecting this tool to the blog RSS feed, it will detect any recent article and create several tweets based on the main sections of the article. It usually picks the intro, subheadings, and conclusion.

Check the quality of the tweets generated and schedule them to go live at different times of the day. That way, your audience will always have something to read about your brand. Remember, out of sight, out of mind. Nurture a habit of frequently posting to keep the audience engaged and interested in your brand.

  • Purchase a Humanised Social Media Chatbot

Your social media marketing campaign’s success depends on your ability to engage with the audience continuously. With a social media chatbot, you will be able to achieve this objective without spending a fortune.

Customers will use it to ask questions and even sometimes place orders or book appointments. The beauty of having a chatbot is that communication is in real-time. You will get a notification on your smartphone and desktop whenever a someone sends a message. 

Most of them come with mobile apps that you can use to respond to the questions directly without logging in to your social media page. As the social media listening tools earlier discussed, consider the pros and cons associated with each tool to find the best. 

Here is a guide on chatbots in Singapore to help you choose the best. 

  • Adopt the Less is More Posting Concept

Three years ago, brands had to post plenty of content on social media to get results. At that time, the quantity was more important than quality. Brands invested resources and time to make sure they are constantly visible to the audience. 

However, in 2021, customers are bombarded with promotional content from hundreds of similar brands per day. Honestly, the messages and ads are overwhelming and, in most cases, annoying. Data mining software is used to monitor user’s browsing history to know which ads to display in their feeds.

Targeted ads make it difficult for new brands to stand out and generate substantial leads from Facebook and other popular social media platforms in Singapore. In addition, the platforms are constantly changing algorithms to provide the best experiences to their users. 

Based on these facts, it is essential to stay abreast of the algorithm, trends, and changes in the social media sphere to become an authority in your industry fast. One approach that you can deploy to achieve this goal is the “less is more posting. “

This approach advocate for posting less thoughtful posts instead of churning out hundreds of posts per week. Make sure that each post is relevant, informative, and thoughtful. The social media listening tools discussed earlier will enable you to understand the kind of content the target audience wants.

A recent study by HubSpot revealed that posting more than twice on social media per day can reduce engagement levels significantly. The ideal posting frequency should be based on the unique details of your audiences, such as age, browsing habits, interests, education level, and so on. Here is an article we recently wrote on the best times to post on social media.

  • Leverage Video is a Marketing Tool

In the current digital business landscape, the demand for quality videos is insatiable. More than 80% of the global internet traffic comes from video content. 

To date, YouTube has more than 800 million videos. The report also shows that 1 billion hours are spent daily by users watching videos on the platform. More people now embrace and prefer information presented using a video as opposed to blocks of text. 

Therefore, you should consider using video as a marketing tool as you work your way up the ladder of eCommerce success in Singapore. Use it to describe your brand, products, services, and processes. There are successful brands that also video to answer frequently asked questions about their products. Borrow a leaf from them to start getting ahead of the competition.

Are you still doubting the ability of video to increase your sales? Well, 60% of shoppers recently polled said they decide to purchase a product or use a service after watching a video. It’s the content that inspires them to place an order – use it to start generating revenue.

Videos are also more prone to going viral than articles and infographics. Create an amazing video that is entertaining and informative to increase its chances of going viral. If it does, you will start getting calls and emails from all parts of the world for your product or expertise.

There are six different types of videos that you can create, namely;

  • User-generated videos – commonly used for marketing purposes as testimonials
  • Product information videos
  • Explainer videos
  • Tutorial videos
  • Behind the scenes – to show customers the process of making the product

Check the kind of videos that your competitors are posting and create better ones. Notice we didn’t say make similar ones. Be different and unique by creating your videos. Spice them up using memes to spur engagement and motivate the audience to take the desired action. 

  • Start Posting Stories

Virtually all social media platforms allow users to post stories. Initially, Snapchat was the only platform with this feature, but today it’s possible to post a story on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and even LinkedIn.

Unlike other posts, stories are displayed at the top of the mobile app and are automatically deleted after 24 hours. More than 500 million users on Instagram view stories daily. Other platforms record almost the same high numbers, and this is a clear indication that people love and prefer them to conventional posts. 

Brands are aware of the numbers and use the feature to engage with existing and new audiences. Some use them to promote products, while others rely on them to make announcements. KFC, for example, recently used Instagram stories to announce the brand’s partnership with Uber Eats. 

As a new eCommerce business in Singapore, you can use Instagram Stories or even Facebook Stories to increase your brand’s visibility. Rest assured that millions of people will view it, but you also need to use proper hashtags to power them up to the top. 

There is no shortage of ideas on the type of content you can post using stories. For example, you can use them to conduct a mini poll or answer FAQs. Be sure to familiarise yourself with the platform’s guidelines to prevent your story been flagged down. 

  • Convert your Pages into Shopping Channels

For a long time, social media has been used solely for marketing purposes. Most businesses still do that, unaware that they can transform their pages into shopping channels. You can do this by simply adding product photos and linking them to your Singapore online store, where they can checkout.

Facebook and Instagram are two of the most futurist social media platforms today. They have unique features that allow marketers and businesses owners to customise their pages and profiles as shopping platforms. Customers can now securely purchase products directly on the respective app without visiting the online store website. 

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.


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