You can easily find dozens of e-commerce websites and platforms operating in Singapore. Most fall into one of the three categories: traditional retailers such as Fairprice and Watsons, e-commerce platforms represented by Alibaba owned Lazada, and individual sellers. In this article, I roughly explore popular product categories in Singapore, top e-commerce platforms and sites statistics, top mobile shopping apps, and relevant regulations in Singapore.
The e-commerce market in Singapore is set to expand by 48% to $9.98b (US$7.4b) by 2022 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7%, according to a study by payments technology company WorldPay (via SBR).
Traditional retailers have advantages of well-established brands and product inventories. Contributing 1.4% to Singapore’s GDP with S$33 billion (US$24 billion) in operating receipts, Singapore’s retail sector can also benefit from the government’s initiatives such as The 2020 vision of the Retail Industry Transformation Map (ITM).
It is for Singapore to have a vibrant retail industry and comprises a mix of highly productive omnichannel retailers and local brand owners with global footprints, all supported by a professional and skilled workforce.
E-commerce platform businesses are more digitally savvy and well-versed in online marketing. And, individuals with a passion for niche products categories can easily run flexible operations on WordPress/Woocommerce, Magento, and Shopify.
The majority of respondents in a survey searched online for a product or service to buy (89%) according to WeAreSocial, visited an online retail store (87%), and purchased a product or service online (73%). Mobile is a slightly more popular platform for online purchase in Singapore (54%) compared with desktop and laptops (47%).
E-Commerce Payment Gateway in Singapore
The most popular domestic e-commerce payments are by credit cards and bank transfers according to a Payvision survey. And, Singapore’s preferred payment methods are credit cards and PayPal for cross-border purchases.
You should also check out PayNow with growing popularity in Singapore, a peer-to-peer funds transfer service available to retail customers of nine participating banks in Singapore – Bank of China, Citibank Singapore Limited, DBS Bank/POSB, HSBC, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited, Maybank, OCBC Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, and UOB.
In Singapore, almost everyone (98%) has an account with a financial institution and about one in two people (49%) has a credit card according to a WeAreSocial report released earlier this year. 57% made a purchase or paid bills online, which is equally popular among men and women.
Mobile wallet in Singapore is far less popular with only 9.5% having a mobile money account than other markets such as China. But, do you know there are over 40 mobile payment players in Singapore? In comparison, 79% of smartphone users in the U.S. have made a purchase online using their mobile device. As high as 96% of consumers from mainland China used “mobile payment app” according to a Kantar survey (via CIW).
Top E-Commerce Product Categories
Overlapping products offerings are common on e-commerce platforms in Singapore. I did a quick keywords comparison earlier this year:
Top 3 e-commerce categories by total spend in Singapore are travel ($3.64 billion), electronics & physical media ($1.08 billion), and fashion & beauty ($999 million), followed by furniture & appliances ($726M), toys, DIY & hobbies ($658M).
Food & personal care (47%), toys & hobbies (40%), electronics & physical media (31%), and fashion & beauty are leading the e-commerce growth in Singapore. Fashion and apparel looks like a popular category for individual sellers as you can easily find many on Google. And, some individual sellers take advantage of e-commerce platforms such as Amazon and Qoo10.
The annual sales value of Singapore’s consumer e-commerce market totals $4.11 billion with a growth rate of 35% YoY. The average annual e-commerce revenue per person is $1,037, up 31%. E-wallet only accounts for 10% of total e-commerce spend in Singapore.
Top E-Commerce Platforms and Sites in Singapore
Top e-commerce platforms with the most mind share based on total Google shopping queries in 2018 are Lazada, Amazon, Qoo10, and eBay. Adidas and Ikea are the top searched product brands in 2018 in Singapore. Lazada’s daily organic traffic is about 312K (users) in Singapore.
I did a search trend analysis on five comprehensive e-commerce platform brands not long ago, which seems to coincide with the above data:
Some traditional retailers also have very decent traffic. Fairprice.com.sg leads in this space with roughly 200-220k daily users from organic traffic (about half are driven by brand searches).
The top e-commerce websites in Singapore by traffic share are qoo10.sg (0.32%), lazada.sg (0.28%), Amazon (0.28%), carousell.com (0.23%), who made it to the top 50 websites by traffic share in Feb 2019.
Global E-Commerce Platforms in Singapore
Serving as a key regional operation center, Singapore sees many global e-commerce platforms’ presence such as Amazon, Qoo10, eBay, and Alibaba (Taobao). Amazon launched it’s Prime Now service in July 2017 with a 100,000 square- foot fulfillment center in the country.
E-Commerce Startups in Singapore
The city-state Singapore is a small country with 721.5 km² land and less than six million people. But, you will find dozens of e-commerce startup companies here. Some are well funded; many are being run by individual entrepreneurs with maintaining tiny operations.
Lazada, founded by Rocket Internet in 2012, is now owned by Alibaba Group. Zalora was founded by Kinnevik AB and Rocket Internet in the same year with operations in several South East Asian countries. Carousell also set up in 2012 and is now well know as a C2C marketplace.
Redmart started in 2011 and is popular as a grocery e-commerce platform. It was acquired by Lazada in 2016 and is integrated into the Lazada platform. Don’t be surprised to see Lazada becoming more and more like Alibaba’s B2C platform Tmall.
Founded in 2009, Reebonz is known as luxury product marketplace. And, there’s HipVan, founded in 2013 as an e-commerce platform for furniture and home decor. Honestbee, grocery and food delivery e-commerce company competing with Southeast Asia’s largest unicorn Grab and Deliveroo (a British online food delivery company).
Top Mobile Shopping Apps on Google Play and iOS in Singapore
A study by Visa showed that 26% of Singaporeans shop online at least once a week – the highest in Southeast Asia. Those in the 25 to 44 age group most frequently shop online in Singapore. 60% of Singapore’s eCommerce sales come from cross-border orders according to Forrester Research.
You can find all the shopping platform mobile apps from both Google Play and iOS based on AppAnnie’s data below:
Laws & Regulations
Companies and entrepreneurs interested in starting an e-commerce business in Singapore should be aware of the following regulations: