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NUS Digital’s Guide to Starting an Ecommerce Business in Singapore

[Disclaimer: This is an uncensored and unedited article submitted by a student at NUS. We have recently experienced cases of students publishing articles on NUS Digital that contain advertisements or spam, and we are deeply sorry for such cases. In those cases, we removed the articles promptly thanks to whistleblowing from our readers. If you believe this article contains any subtle advertisements, spam or offensive content, please report it for us to review. Thank you.]

Singapore boasts a dynamic ecommerce industry. The city state ranks number one for online sales in the whole of South-East Asia. As per Singapore ecommerce statistics, Singapore’s ecommerce market revenue is expected to grow at 11.2% per year, reaching US$5.086 billion by 2021 from, up from US$3.3 billion this year. Such a large market offers amazing prospects for enterprising NUS graduates planning their own ecommerce venture. Like every business, there are certain steps to abide by when launching your dream online store. Let’s explore the checklist to start your ecommerce business here.

What to sell

Before you register your company or design your store, get a clear idea about what you are selling. Make sure there is a robust need for it in the market. The most popular niche for ecommerce in Singapore is electronics & media. Other favorites are office supplies, books, music, fashion, and beauty products.

You should also define your initial niche beforehand. Start small, both with your inventory and audience. For the first 6 months, see how it goes. If your venture shows progress, contemplate widening your scope.

Incorporate the business

Decide on your business structure. Will it be a sole proprietorship, a LLC company, or a partnership with a fellow NUS grad? Market reports show that most modern entrepreneurs in Singapore prefer “private limited” agencies. The most important benefits here are limited liability, tax incentives, reliable image, and fast business registration within 24 hours. Always consult with a lawyer beforehand to understand the legal structure as well as taxes and liabilities of launching a business in Singapore.

Choose vendors wisely

You have to equip your inventory adequately before you market the store to the world. Thus, start looking for vendors after completing business incorporation. Make a shortlist of 4-5 vendors initially and get a market survey on them. Check out their reputation, retailer reviews, rates and product quality. Test their products before you launch them on your site.

Choose a domain name & design your store

Your domain name must be easy to read and directly relevant to your business and company name. The common practice is to use the name of your company as your domain name. But if that’s already taken by an existing company, get something that is the closest possible.

A professionally designed online store is fundamental when you are launching an ecommerce business. Professional designers might be too pricey for startups. If this is the case, try using ecommerce platforms like Spotify and Woocommerce. Your chosen platform should be a reputed name in the market and promise SEO support, responsive designs, social integration and a free trial.

Get the TrustSg mark

You should get the TrustSg shield for your ecommerce site. The nationally acclaimed seal stands for credibility and security for an ecommerce site. It also implies that your business and online store are fully compliant to all codes and standards set by the Singaporean government.

Create a buzz before official inauguration

This is one of the most important thing to consider when creating a successful online store. Before you open the store officially, try to create a buzz around your launch. You can use social networking sites to spread the word. Request your peers and relatives to take your word to the masses through active “Likes” and “Shares”. If you can afford, get a PR (Press Release) for your shop by a professional writer.

Try out different marketing channels

The ecommerce market in Singapore has ruthless competition. Therefore, your store needs solid marketing power to compete in the industry. Try out different marketing channels and analyze how they fare. This will help you find what works for you.

Have a flexible payment system

Try to follow flexible payment methods to cater to a versatile range of customers. Online bank transfer is the most common payment method for Singaporean online shoppers. Keep provisions for card payment, PayPal and COD as well.

3 Comments

  1. west Melbourne Mktg agency

    November 2, 2017 at 11:08 am

    Thank you for sharing your article the content was great and informative Hope to read more of your articles soon

  2. Thank you for sharing

  3. Good article, thanks so much, you mention about the platform I choose should have SEO support, responsive designs, social integration and a free trial… the guys over at easean did a run down of the best platforms for ecommerce in Singapore, here https://www.ecommerceasean.com/best-ecommerce-platforms-for-singapore/ and mention 10 platform, but, I’m stuck which one to choose, what are your thoughts? Shopify looks good, but so does Magento.
    Thanks for your help
    Sammy

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