How to Start an E-Commerce Business in Singapore
E-Commerce has been growing tremendously over the past few years, especially accelerated by the pandemic as everyone had to buy their goods and items online. As the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats. If you are planning to start a business in this digital age, E-Commerce is definitely one good way to go. Here are some of the steps you need to take to start an E-Commerce business in Singapore.
1. Research the E-commerce space
Before starting any business, you need to know the nature of the industry you’ll be entering. This means you should first do your research on the E-Commerce space and learn about the trends and happenings within the industry to help you find your niche and decide what kind of business you want to start.
Consider which markets are already competitive and which markets have room for expansion before coming up with ideas for your product. Think about the markets where you already have a following or a passion, then move forward from there.
2. Choosing a product to sell
After you have conducted your research and got a better understanding of the E-Commerce space, it’s time to decide what products or services you are going to sell.
Questions you should consider when choosing a product to sell are:
1. Is the interest in the product growing, stable or declining?
2. If you are going to sell a product, why will they buy it from you?
It is challenging to come up with new product ideas in the crowded market for goods nowadays. If you don’t have much of an idea of what product you want to sell, you can consider:
Currently, the top trending product categories in Singapore are:
- Consumer Electronics (Top brands: Apple, Sony, Samsung)
- Fashion and Beauty (Top brands: Nike, Chanel, Uniqlo)
- Toys, DIY, and hobbies (Top brands: Lego, Nerf, Hasbro)
- Personal Care(Top brands: Innisfree, Cetaphil, L’Oreal)
But why only limit your business within Singapore? With the growth of E-Commerce, consumers are searching for products from other countries for a wider variety of product choice, cost, and quality. This means that your target audience doesn’t just have to be within your own country but could be anywhere around the globe. You can consider tapping your business into the USA's market where there are plenty of opportunities for business expansion.
The top trending product categories in the USA:
- Consumer Electronics
- Apparel and Accessories
- Personal Care and Beauty
- Furniture and home furnishings
Similar to Singapore, the top trending product categories in the USA are consumer electronics, Fashion and Beauty, and Personal Care. However, internationally shipping products to the USA or any other country can be a hassle. With a trustworthy international courier service, it will help minimize inconvenience and costs when shipping your products overseas!
Choosing a niche product to sell would be beneficial for you as it can help reduce competition and create many opportunities for growth. Most importantly, choose a product that you are passionate about. You can more effectively communicate your product's value and mission to the market if you are emotionally invested in it.
Examples of niche products are:
- Handmade Items
- Pet Food or Owners
- Eco-Friendly products
Another factor you should consider when choosing a product to sell is simplicity. Research on whether it is easy to source or produce the product. Is the packaging difficult for your product? Is the shipping costly? If you are a new business, you might want to start off simple with smaller and lighter products so that you save time, money, and effort!
3. Naming your business and choosing a logo.
After you have decided on the nature of your business, think of a name for it. The name of your business is important as it is an intangible asset that will add value to its brand. It will also be your main verbal marketing tool! You also want to ensure that you choose an effective brand name. You will know it’s effective when the brand name is distinct, memorable, and purposeful.
There are many types of naming methods for a business such as:
- Founder’s name
- Explanatory (explaining a product or service)
- Expressive or Invented
When creating your brand logo, ensure that it:
- Communicates the brand essence or spirit
- Is memorable and has a graphic impact
- Can be differentiated from your competition
- Is relevant to the target audience
4. Applying for licenses and permits
When starting your E-Commerce business in Singapore, you will have to firstly register your business name with ACRA. You can check out Bizfile and GoBusiness for more details.
Once you have registered your business, you then need to:
5. Choose platforms to sell your products
Selling on existing online marketplaces:
These brands listed are the main E-Commerce platforms that you can sell your products on. The advantages of running your business on existing E-Commerce platforms are that it saves cost, effort, and it helps give you a bigger outreach of customers. Furthermore, being part of an established online marketplace provides a level of trust between you and the buyer. A survey showed that businesses who sell their products on a marketplace make 38% more return on investment than those who just use their own website.
However, it can be highly competitive since there are dozens of other businesses present on these online platforms, so be unique and different from other businesses if you want to compete with them.
Another useful tip would be to use multiple platforms to sell your products. Selling via different marketplaces will help you reach more potential customers and gain more sales and revenue. Not only that, it will increase the credibility of your brand since it gives people the impression that your brand is popular and in demand!
If you want to create your own E-Commerce shop, you can consider the following:
Creating your own website comes with benefits such as having total control of your online shop with the freedom to personalize it however you want. However, the downside is you might not have many website visitors if your brand awareness is low. So be sure to have a strong marketing plan if you want to solely utilize your own E-Commerce website!
6. Promoting and Marketing your Store
To market to your target customers and start bringing customers into your store, you'll need to develop a strategy. Using an omnichannel strategy and marketing through a number of offline and online sales channels is the greatest way to promote your business. The main marketing methods you should consider for your E-Commerce business are:
You can connect with and interact with potential customers on social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, and even some of the more recent ones like TikTok. Through this, you can engage your audience with a solid social media strategy and the ability to provide interesting content.
The Google Ads program enables you to develop online advertisements to target audiences who are interested in the goods and services you provide. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, in which you are charged each time a visitor clicks on your ad, is the basis of the Google Ads platform.
In short, you pick specific keywords and place bids on them based on how much you're ready to pay for each click. Select keywords, which are certain words or phrases that appear frequently in searches for your product or service.
Your advertising will show up on search engine results pages when a person conducts an organic search using your keywords. This significantly raises your chances of drawing in new customers depending on the keywords and search terms people use to conduct a Google search.
Google advertising has a massive reach as Google's search engine handles approximately 2 trillion searches per year. That’s 5.6 billion searches per day! Hence, google advertising will help you gain a strong presence online and allow potential customers to find your products and services through a quick search on google.
Other marketing methods you can consider are:
- Influencer marketing.
- Facebook Pages and Groups.
- Discounts and promotions.
- Email marketing.
- Content marketing.
It’s important to note that different products/services may have different target markets and require a unique marketing strategy to reach the right audience at the right place and at the right time. Hence, it’s crucial to identify your target market and choose your marketing channels based on your target audience’s behavior and how they operate across your digital touchpoints.
One way to do this is by building a buyer persona. A buyer persona helps you depict your ideal customers and tells you where your customers hang out online, so you know which channel reaches them better. It helps to ensure all the marketing efforts are tailored to the targeted buyer’s needs. When creating a buyer persona, make sure to know the following:
- Purchasing power
- Online shopping habits
- Pain points
7. Efficient and reliable delivery service
When running an E-Commerce business, fast, cheap, and reliable shipping services will be important in achieving customer satisfaction. While there are many competitive services available for local deliveries, there is still a gap for international shipping.
Businesses that just start with international shipping often struggle with high shipping costs and restrictions due to their inexperience with packing and customs.
The right international shipping options can help you save time and costs. JustShip offers international shipping services for businesses at cheap rates within 2-5 working days.
You can learn more about international shipping from our blog post, 'The Ultimate Guide to International Shipping from Singapore'
To summarize, starting an E-Commerce business is not simple and requires time and effort to see success from it. Most importantly, be passionate about what you do as it will not only help you get through difficult times, but will also help you create a brand message that resonates with customers in a meaningful, genuine, and compelling way.
If you are thinking about starting a small online business, JustShip provides professional packing and international shipping services at the best shipping rates for many Singapore E-commerce businesses. We understand your needs and meet them! Create a shipment today if you have something to ship, otherwise don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions!