Here are the key players that helped shape S’pore’s e-commerce ecosystem from end-to-end

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The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed the opportunities that lie in Singapore’s e-commerce sector. Most retailers have realised that going digital is one of the best ways to reach their customer base and went on to develop an e-commerce strategy.

Singapore and the rest of the world has witnessed an e-commerce boom, with consumers purchasing everything from groceries to household appliances online. According to Statista, revenue in the e-commerce market is projected to reach US$2,793 million (S$3762.67 million) in 2021. 

Covid-19 saw even more physical retailers jumping onboard the e-commerce bandwagon in Singapore. Even traditional, smaller players like wet market grocers took to social media channels and online marketplaces to hawk their products.

Singapore is also one of the top five Southeast Asian markets leading the charge when it comes to e-commerce market growth.

From fresh groceries to household appliances, everything can be delivered to one’s doorstep nowadays. More than ever, merchants are improving their e-commerce businesses to meet the needs of customers.

Map of S’pore’s e-commerce players

e-commerce map singapore
Image Credit: Vulcan Post

This includes homegrown and international companies that are in the marketplace, payments, logistics, groceries, buy now, pay later, cross-border and cashback spaces.

1. Marketplace

Shopee Marketplace
Image Credit: Inside Retail Asia

A marketplace is a platform where multiple vendors can come together to sell their products or services to a customer base.

The marketplace owner brings together the right vendors to drive sales. Sellers on the platform have a place to gain visibility and access to marketing help, while the marketplace owner earns a commission from each sale.

This differs from an online store, which is a single store selling its own products online.

Marketplace owners do not own the inventory of products on the platform, unlike online store owners. Hence, marketplace owners such as Shopee, Lazada and Qoo10 leave the operations and logistics to vendors while focusing mainly on promoting and driving traffic to their platforms.

Lazada Marketplace
Image Credit: Working With Grace

After e-commerce marketplace Shopee was launched in 2015, it quickly climbed the ranks and went from being a new entrant to taking the crown as the most-visited e-commerce platform in Singapore by the second quarter of 2020.

Besides business-to-customer (B2C) marketplaces like Shopee and Lazada, the popularity of customer-to-customer (C2C) marketplaces is also rising in the e-commerce world.

In a C2C marketplace, customers can trade or sell items to one another. Customers might benefit from the competition for products and often find items that are difficult to locate elsewhere. 

One of the largest C2C marketplaces is Carousell. The online marketplace was founded in 2012, and over 158 million items were sold on Carousell as of December 2018.

As of 2019, Carousell’s users listed more than 250 million items, averaging 50 listings per minute.

While customers can buy and sell practically any item on Carousell, other C2C marketplaces are more specific. For example, 99.co is a leading real estate technology company that operates real estate portals across Southeast Asia.

It allows users to list their property on its marketplace for sale or rent, and receive enquiries or sales from interested buyers.

Another specialised marketplace is Carro, Southeast Asia’s largest car marketplace. It offers a full-stack service for all aspects of car ownership, from buying and selling of new and used cars to offering Singapore’s first car subscription service.

2. Cross-border e-commerce sites

Cross-border e-commerce refers to the selling and buying of products through online shops across national borders, where the seller and the buyer are in different countries. 

More than half of e-commerce transactions in Singapore are cross-border, and it has one of the highest cross-border shopping rates in Asia

The US and China are the top two destinations for shoppers from Singapore.

Cross Border E-commerce Singapore
Market share of cross-border e-commerce in Singapore as of January 2020 / Image Credit: Statista

According to a report published by PPRO, 43 per cent of cross-border e-commerce in Singapore was from China as of January 2020. The market share of the cross-border e-commerce was approximately one-third of total e-commerce in the country.

Singapore’s volume of cross-border transactions could be attributed to the country’s large population of wealthy, tech-savvy shoppers, and the efforts of e-commerce players to vie for customers.

Since Singapore’s e-commerce market is dense with local and global players, e-commerce platforms have to constantly put out discounts or engage in other marketing efforts to encourage users to shop on their sites.

To add on, some global sites might sell exclusive items that cannot be found in Singapore, making their platforms more desirable to shop on.

3. Grocery delivery

redmart
Image Credit: Petrol World

More Singaporeans are turning online to fulfil their basic needs, including purchasing groceries. This is especially so due to the Covid-19 pandemic, as people are encouraged to stay at home and refrain from heading out unless absolutely necessary.

According to PitchBook Data, investors around the world have invested almost US$14 billion into on-demand grocery delivery services globally since the start of the pandemic.

Grocery delivery e-commerce
Image Credit: Financial Times

Customers range from busy parents who might need products urgently, to young millennials who do not have the time to run a grocery errand.

Research firm IGD Asia found that Singapore’s grocery market saw stellar performance, and it is forecasted to be a S$9.9 billion industry by 2023, a 14.5 per cent increase from 2018. 

In March 2020, at the height of the pandemic, it was reported that Singapore’s grocery delivery services were hugely overwhelmed, with long wait times for customers.

However, as supermarkets refined their delivery services over the course of the year, the problem has largely vanished. Furthermore, Singapore has also seen the rise of non-traditional players in this field.

For example, Grab recently announced the launch of GrabSupermarket, which allows customers to choose from over 10,000 unique products. These products will be delivered to customers the next day.

Another unconventional player in the field is AirAsia. Best known as an airline, AirAsia has since expanded into food deliveries and grocery delivery as well.

Starting July 6, the AirAsia superapp offers fresh groceries delivery service in Singapore with the launch of AirAsia Fresh.

4. Logistics

ninja van
Image Credit: Ninja Van

Logistics is an important, but often neglected and unseen aspect of the e-commerce experience.

E-commerce logistics refers to the processes involved in storing and shipping products for an online store or marketplace. This includes inventory management and the picking, packing, and shipping of online orders.

As the e-commerce industry grows, the logistics of getting orders to customers has become even more complicated.

This is especially so when customers don’t like to wait. When people are choosing to purchase online instead of in physical stores, the fulfilment of orders at a fast rate has become more important than ever.

A typical logistics supply chain involves a supplier —  those who have inventory ready to ship to a destination. Fulfilment centres are warehouses that hold inventory close to the consumer. At the warehouse, each order is picked, packed, and shipped as soon as it’s placed to ensure a speedy delivery.

Shipping carriers handle the transportation of products to their destination. There are also last-mile delivery services which transport products from warehouses to the consumer.

In Singapore, some of these last-mile delivery services include Ninja Van, Lalamove, SingPost and DHL. Some e-commerce giants might also make use of their own delivery services. These include Lazada Express, and Q Express which belongs to Qoo10.

5. Payment providers

E-commerce payment
Image Credit: Vox

Payment providers are naturally important in the e-commerce industry, as merchants require a platform which allows them to collect money from the sales made.

Besides the traditional credit and debit cards, mobile wallets are also growing in popularity.

A mobile wallet is a type of virtual wallet where users can send, receive, and store money, and pay for purchases through their smartphone. These wallet services are…

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