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Mobile Marketing

2022 Online Shopping Trends in Singapore

Nadia Rodiukova
November 28, 2022

With the increased convenience of online shopping, a growing number of businesses across the globe have made the shift to eCommerce. In the process, mobile shopping has become increasingly popular on both mobile websites and apps. This is why retail businesses of all types should invest in mobile shopping to reach their customers.

In Singapore, mobile eCommerce revenue is expected to reach nearly $6 billion by 2024. Statista also predicts that the number of mobile users in Singapore will grow to more than 5.6 million by 2025. These numbers alone show how important mobile shopping is in this country. In this article, we'll explore some of the other shopping trends and statistics for eCommerce in Singapore in 2022.

Tourism-Backed Growth in Spring 2022

As Singapore continues to attract more tourists, one Singapore online shopping trend we saw earlier this year was increased retail sales.

This trend became very apparent in the Spring season starting in March, when retail sales increased by 8.7%, reversing the 3.5% decrease seen the previous month. Then, in April, Singapore retail sales went up by a whopping 12.1% thanks largely due to a surge in tourism with looser border restrictions. By May, retail sales increased at an even faster rate thanks again to plenty of tourist spending. Specifically, they saw a 17.8% boost that month. That percentage was the highest since June 2021, and the trend continued into June of this year.

The rest of the summer season will also likely continue this trend.

Online and Offline Experiences Complementing Each Other

Offline plus online retail strategy

One country where online shopping has peaked is Singapore, which has embraced Offline + Online (O+O) shopping over Offline to Online/Online to Offline (O2O) in recent years. While O2O helps move customers along the buyer's journey from one channel to the next, O+O uses an omnichannel strategy that includes multiple online and offline touchpoints for customers. This emphasis on O+O means that brands must invest in mobile experiences as much as other online and offline experiences. Tarun Valecha, Founder Mezink, underlines how customer experience goes beyond the physical stores as follows:

“Building digital real estate and harnessing the customer data are going to be key to unlock the power of O+O for brands. Online channels play a big role in product discovery now and hence there is a greater appreciation for designing customer engagement which transcends the physical store experience.”

It's important to note that the in-store experience is still crucial for retailers in Singapore. Many Singaporean consumers still seek physical stores to interact with products in person before buying. In fact, according to Sersormatic Solutions’ report, 59% of Singaporeans don't think it's possible to replace the in-store experience with online shopping. 49% of them also make in-store purchases once a week at a minimum.

73% of Singaporean shoppers prefer the in-store experience because they say, "I can touch and feel the product before I make a purchase."

These stats alone show that physical retail isn't going anywhere. The best way to make the most of both online and offline channels is to combine the two to create a varied, seamless customer experience.

Jeremey Sea, Senior Manager of Commercial Marketing in APAC at Sensormatic Solutions, elaborates more on their report as follows: 

“Our survey at the end of last year showed that in-store shopping remains irreplaceable to 59% of those surveyed, despite the growth in online shopping, fueled largely by the “circuit breaker” and months beyond, during the pandemic.

Regardless of whether it is online or offline, the point is, it is not about “one being better than the other”. It is the customer’s experience that matters, which means retailers have to be able to serve the customers in whichever channel the customer chooses. If you are only on one “O”, you will lose that customer if he/she cannot find you both online AND offline.

We need to be wherever the customer chooses to interact with / buy from us, whenever they want.” 

friends-doing-online-shopping
Friends doing online shopping

What are the main reasons for the rising online shopping trend in Singapore?

There are a number of factors that make this an ideal time for eCommerce to grow in Singapore, starting with the Covid-19 pandemic which forced many shoppers to turn to online alternatives to the brick-and-mortar experience, but the trend is growing stronger than even now that the economy is reopening to a “Covid-normal” world. 

  • Online presence is growing overall in Singapore, with more than 88% of the population connected to the internet.
  • The use of mobile technology is rising as well
  • The Singaporean government offered online retail incentives to small businesses in 2020 and 2021 giving them resources to enable online shopping
  • Shopping online makes it easy to bargain hunt
  • Consumer spending is rising as the economy reopens

Cinderella Shoppers

Another eCommerce trend to consider is that of the so-called "Cinderella shopper" in Singapore. Shopee's first Midnight Mega Sale in 2021 initially observed this trend in Singapore. Cinderella shoppers are retail customers who tend to do most of their shopping after midnight, often between the hours of 12 and 2 AM. Oftentimes, these shoppers stay up late in the evenings to take advantage of exclusive discounts, flash sales, and other benefits that begin at the very start of the next day. 

This trend makes it crucial for retailers to take certain steps to handle an influx of Cinderella shoppers. Specifically, they must make sure that all offers and promotions benefit these buyers and attract them ahead of time. Retailers also need to ensure they have sufficient stock to meet these audiences' demands while retaining enough for other shoppers.

When targeting Cinderella shoppers, retailers should harness the power of segmentation and targeted communication. By identifying this specific audience segment and gearing your message toward it, you'll be able to more effectively communicate with these shoppers.

Cross-Border Commerce

One online shopping habit that's seen an increase in Singapore is cross-border eCommerce. Shoppers in this country have shopped across the border for many years, and they're doing so online as much as they are offline. The number of cross-border shoppers has increased to the point where the market value of Singaporean eCommerce exports has risen to 1.4 billion SGD.

The majority of online shoppers complete cross-border purchases, with 73% of them buying outside of Singapore. Some of the key reasons for this online shopping trend include:

  • Better prices across the border
  • Increased variety as shoppers find products they can't buy locally
  • Products of higher quality 

This trend shows that Singaporean retail customers are eager to purchase products from abroad if they're worth the price. This turns Singapore into a critical market for local and international businesses alike.

Delivering a Social Shopping Experience

One of the biggest emerging trends in online shopping among Singaporeans is social shopping. Consumers no longer simply want to find, buy, and leave on eCommerce platforms the way they used to; instead, they want to window shop and benefit from more interactivity with their favorite brands and platforms. They want more gamification and other interactive ways to connect.

As more shoppers in this country turn to social media for eCommerce experiences, retailers need to deliver a truly social experience. This will involve taking full advantage of social media and other channels to offer an engaging social shopping experience.

One of the best ways to create a social shopping experience for your app or website that truly connects with social users is through Stories. Storyly makes it easy to develop and publish Stories in apps and on eCommerce websites that replicate the experience of many social platforms. These Stories can make personalized product recommendations, promote product collections, allow for fast and convenient payment, and much more. Using Stories, you can establish a great relationship with customers in Singapore and across the globe.

The following are some other key trends to keep in mind when using various platforms to promote your brand and offerings.

Social Commerce

Social commerce in Singapore is seeing rapid growth as more and more shoppers turn to social platforms. One Essence study found that 50% of surveyed shoppers in Singapore have either bought or intended to buy various products through these platforms. To facilitate this, social platforms are allowing for ease of shopping, payment, and communication. Some of the top platforms to use for eCommerce brands in Singapore include Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube.

Top social commerce platforms in Singapore
Top social commerce platforms in Singapore

Natalie Karakine, Growth Marketing Manager of APAC at Storyly, interprets the rise of social commerce as follows:

“I am sure that you heard about the recent study where we saw the proof that young generations do not go to Google for searching now, they use TikTok or Instagram for that. They chat there, consume content at the same time and buy new things.  For the recent period, they DM the sellers and pay directly, and a few days ago Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the new “payments in chat” feature on Instagram. Social commerce is developing right before our eyes. Brands who want to cover Gen Z can’t miss this trend.” 

Live streaming helping social media-based eCommerce to gain momentum in Singapore

Live streaming is another consumer online shopping trend in Singapore that's gained some traction in recent years. In Asia, the popularity of live streaming first grew in China, but it has since spread to Singapore and other countries throughout the Asia Pacific region. One of the reasons for this was the instigation of global lockdowns during the pandemic, which made live streaming so crucial for shoppers and businesses to communicate. 

Some of the potential platforms you can use for live streaming in Singapore include YouTube Live, Instagram Live, and Facebook Live. Through live streaming, you can answer questions about products that audiences may have, provide general information about product offerings, and promote new discounts or sales. 

friend-group-doing-online-shopping
Group of friends doing online shopping

Shopping Communities in Singapore

Some brands have also begun to develop eCommerce apps that lend a sense of community to the user experience. For example, Japanese apparel company UNIQLO has released an app, Stylehint, that enables customers to upload images of their favorite items and provides recommendations based on these. This app is available to users in Singapore.

Additionally, Stylehint allows UNIQLO Lifewear fans to communicate with each other through styling suggestions and user-based fashion choices. 

Let’s lend an ear to Joven Barceñas, Founder & CEO MARKETECH APAC, on online communities:

“As we cover the marketing news and trends daily, we have seen the value of online communities where real people interact by sharing experiences, recommendations, etc. It is where people - the consumers - participate genuinely in the discussion. Brands have seen the value of creating online communities to inspire, educate or influence consumers’ buying behaviour.

We are also seeing the rising of genuine brand ambassadors through online communities through active participation. The members can identify other members who become the voice of these communities. They become KOLs who they trust and follow.

Brands have recognized that consumers are now driving the conversations through the power they acquired from social media apps and other channels. And with this, brands are continuously jumping into online communities to be with their consumers and learn from their experiences.”

Using Storyly Stories, you can also develop a community among users and employees in your eCommerce experience. For instance, you could use a Story that promotes customer-inspired looks as an apparel retailer, along with staff picks. You can also base these on each user's unique preferences.

What are the most popular payment methods and types in Singapore?

The majority of online purchases in Singapore are made with credit cards, which are growing in popularity throughout the country. At present, nearly three-quarters of Singaporean consumers have at least one credit card. 

Though both financial and digital literacy are high throughout Singapore and credit card use is increasing, cash remains a highly preferred method of payment throughout the country and is still the second most popular payment method overall. To accommodate this preference, many online retailers offer a Cash on Delivery (COD) option for services such as grocery or courier delivery, which is a popular choice for online shoppers. 

Some popular payment gateways for online payments in Singapore include Stripe, Checkout.com, PayPal, and Braintree. The use of digital wallet options is popular for eCommerce shoppers who prioritize convenience, reliability, and security when making online purchases.

Payment: Cards vs Wallets

Although many customers who engage in online shopping still use credit cards, more shoppers are making the transition to digital wallets. In Singapore, both cards and wallets are popular payment methods among shoppers.

Specifically, 63% of online transactions involve credit and debit cards. Meanwhile, digital wallets have begun to catch up, with these being the second most popular payment method. Today, digital wallets have a 21% market share, while bank transfers follow behind both cards and wallets with a 10% share.

With the rise of digital wallets as a favorite means of completing transactions, cryptocurrency is also making waves in Singapore among online consumers.

Cryptocurrencies as New Payment Methods

One of the biggest global mobile shopping trends in 2022 is the use of cryptocurrency, and Singapore is jumping on board. Historically, cybercriminals benefited most from crypto transactions, but more retailers and other businesses are beginning to offer crypto payment rewards. This ties into using digital wallets as companies like MasterCard are allowing shoppers to manage crypto using digital wallets. Customers can then begin receiving rewards when they pay for certain items using this currency.

Increase in Voice Search

Voice search is also seeing a surge in popularity all over the world, and it's soon to expand in Asian countries like Singapore. AI Speech Lab has started developing a speech recognition system that will enhance Singaporean voice search, specifically. The company is working on interpreting Singlish and other variations of Singaporean lingo, which will likely improve voice search capabilities for online shopping in this country. To further this project along, it has gained support from the government's artificial intelligence initiative.

Subscription Systems to Reward Returning Customers

eCommerce brands rely on customer retention to maximize revenue. One of the best ways to drive this retention is through subscriptions to loyalty programs. These give customers an incentive to return by giving them rewards in exchange for repeat purchases. 

Loyalty programs are likely to thrive among consumers in Singapore, including subscription loyalty programs. These particular programs require customers to contribute in some way before they can become members. These may include one-time fees or another form of contribution that grants membership.

Effect of personalized digital experiences on customer retention
Effect of personalized digital experiences on customer retention

But why do brands need to create loyalty programs? Joven Barceñas, Founder & CEO MARKETECH APAC, states that

“With so many things going on different platforms, where thousands or millions of content are produced to attract consumers, one of the key initiatives that brands are increasingly investing in is their loyalty programs. It is an effective way to retain customers and get them continuously engaged with the brand. Creating effective loyalty programs not just creates brand loyalty but eventually brand advocacy which helps the brands to identify KOLs are true users and believers of the brand.

However, loyalty programs should not just be about points or rewards. The brands should give high focus on the experience. This is the best reward that brands should give their customers - an experience that they can remember.”

Whether you choose to implement a subscription or another type of loyalty program, certain incentives can attract loyal Singaporean customers. If you really want to entice customers in Singapore to sign up for your loyalty program, some rewards to offer include:

  • Points that never expire
  • Cash rewards that provide real value
  • Redeemable points that work with more than one vendor
  • Member discounts
  • The ability to earn points from other vendors
people-doing-online-shopping
People doing online shopping

Personalized Marketing

If you really want to build a connection with shoppers in Singapore or any other audience, you need to incorporate a personalized online shopping experience. If you can speak directly to each customer in different ways, this will make your marketing and sales efforts resonate with them more effectively.

The fact is that 70% of Singaporeans want a personalized digital customer experience, which is why you should do what you can to give it to them. This is something you can achieve with Storyly Stories through personalized marketing strategies.

Follow the Biggest Online Shopping Trends in Singapore to Optimize Your eCommerce Experience

As each of these trends continues to develop, you should use them to guide your eCommerce campaigns. You can then build strong relationships with local audiences using the right tools and strategies. As your business grows in Singapore, you'll be able to create a loyal following of customers and potentially reach audiences abroad.

FAQs

Do you have additional questions about online shopping and shopping behavior in Singapore? The following are some frequently asked questions and answers to help guide you.

How Popular is Online Shopping in Singapore?

eCommerce has become very popular in Singapore, and that trend will continue. According to GlobalData, online retail sales are likely to reach $9.2 billion in Singapore, which is an 18.3% increase from the previous year.

Which Age Group Does the Most Online Shopping in Singapore?

In Singapore, most eCommerce shoppers consist of adults between 25 and 44 years old. One report from Global-e determined that 25 to 34-year-olds accounted for 24% of eCommerce shoppers, with 35 to 44-year-olds comprising another 24%.

Has Online Shopping Increased During Covid in Singapore?

With reduced travel restrictions, a flourishing tourism industry, and the popularity of online shopping, eCommerce sales have dramatically increased as the pandemic continues. 

Why is Online Shopping Becoming Popular?

Online shopping offers certain conveniences that shoppers don't get when visiting physical retail locations. Customers can easily access catalogs via apps or eCommerce websites on mobile devices and other types of devices, regardless of location. They can also quickly and easily make transactions using cards or digital wallets, making it easier than ever to complete a purchase. Additionally, customers can benefit from personalized recommendations and other custom-tailored experiences that they won't find as easily offline. All of these benefits make online shopping popular all over the world, including in Singapore.

Is eCommerce Still Booming in Singapore?

Data around online shopping in Singapore shows that eCommerce is only going to increase in popularity in the years ahead. eCommerce is certainly booming, and GlobalData predicts that the country's market will grow to $14.2 billion by 2025, with a 16.2% compound annual growth rate. 

What Are the most popular online shopping destinations in Singapore

  • Shopee
  • Lazada
  • Amazon
  • Qoo10
  • Castlery

Shopee is by far the biggest platform for online retail in Singapore with close to 15 million monthly visits in the first quarter of 2022. The next most popular is the Singaporean platform Lazada, followed by Amazon, Qoo10, and Castlery. It should be noted that Shopee, Lazada, and Zalora were some of the online retail platforms that participated in the government-sponsored eCommerce packages offered to help small businesses through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nadia Rodiukova

Nadia is head of growth in APAC with more than eight years of GTM experience. With a mission of spreading the word about Storyly in the region, Nadia covers pick-ups about mobile marketing and the best customer experience.

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