Singapore has seen a huge rise in e-commerce activity over the past few years, with some e-commerce startups receiving investment or even proceeding to expand across the Asia-Pacific region.
Here’s a list of what we think are up-and-rising and popular e-commerce sites and platforms in Singapore.
Launched in March 2009, Reebonz is an e-commerce site that deals in luxury products and services, such as high-end handbags and luxury travel packages, offering them at a discounted price compared to brick-and-mortar retailers. It is backed by Intel Capital.
Customers get to enjoy free shipping for all orders, which arrive wrapped in their a signature Reebonz black box with gold ribbon. The company also absorbs all customs duties and taxes that might be incurred during overseas deliveries.
In addition to their focus on luxury products, Reebonz also launched Kwerkee in mid-2012. Kwerkee is an e-commerce site that carries a lot of unique, novelty household items and gizmos.
Qoo10, also previously known as Gmarket, is a major global e-commerce site originating from Korea after forming a partnership between eBay and Giosis Gmarket. It has several other localized sites in five countries, including Japan and Singapore.
Qoo10 is a huge B2C marketplace, offering products such as clothes, gadgets, and groceries. There are many discounts and promotions held almost daily to encourage repeated purchases and retain loyal buyers, such as a ‘lucky lounge’ where members stand a chance to win coupons and stamps for future purchases.
There are also many payment methods accepted, like credit cards, Paypal, ENETS (a real-time online bank transfer service), and even via AXS payment stations (a Singapore payment transaction terminal system) strategically located around Singapore. As not all Qoo10 sellers are based in Singapore, shipping methods and duration vary greatly.
Launched in late 2011, Redmart is one of Singapore’s most prominent online stores that caters especially to busy people.
This online grocery mart offers a selection of up to 8,000 products including from household items to groceries. Without heading out of the house and waiting in line for their purchases, customers are able to pay via credit cards and receive orders right at their doorstep.
Redmart has attracted investments from Skype co-founder Toivo Annus and Golden Gate Ventures, and has recently announced an expansion of its warehouse and team.
It offers a selection of curated products from highly sought after international brands and offers delivery not only to Singapore, but to Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei, and Indonesia.
OpenTrolley started out in 2008 and claims to be one of Singapore’s leading online book stores, offering more than two million imported titles from the US and the UK at prices somewhat cheaper than physical bookstores in Singapore.
Customers can opt between courier delivery to their home at a minimal flat charge or self-collection at a pickup points in central Singapore. OpenTrolley also offers night-time delivery, which is targeted at the working crowd who are not at home to receive any parcels during working hours.
OpenTrolley has also expanded its business to Indonesia.
Jipaban, launched in May 2010, brands itself as an online social shopping mall. It is owned by Netccentric, which is also the parent company of Asia’s leading blog advertising community, Nuffnang. Jipaban operates in both Singapore and Malaysia.
It currently offers shipping to other countries, such as Thailand, South Korea, Hong Kong, and New Zealand, to name a few. Users can customize their own ideal online mall by selecting their favourite brands into a list. To encourage loyal customers, loyalty points are offered with each purchase and can be redeemed from a 1276-item catalogue of products.
Bellabox is a subscription e-commerce startup focusing on cosmetics for both men and women, and it recently raised US$1.37 million in series A funding. Founded in October 2011, Bellabox operates in both Singapore and Australia.
It sends subscribers a box of hand-picked products or samples every month at a fee starting from SG$19.95. Satisfied customers who would like to get the full-size products after testing the items from the box can then purchase the products directly from Bellabox’s online site.
AllDealsAsia is a Singapore daily deals aggregator and group-buying site launched in July 2010. In 2011, the startup received investment from Iconic Investment at an undisclosed figure.
It provides daily deals and coupons for a wide variety of products such as beauty services, household products, language courses, and travel packages.
Sold.sg is an online penny auction site that began operations in 2010. It has a pretty unique concept that provides a gamification experience for users who are looking for the extra ‘thrill’ in attempting to outbid others to win the auction, which is an item offered at a highly discounted price.
Besides having an auction component on their site, they have a conventional online store that sells interesting and quirky novelties.
iLoveBooks is an e-books store owned by Singapore media company, Mediacorp. The site claims to have 600,000 e-book titles from more than 3,000 publishers. E-books can be purchased and downloaded into their own e-reader app available on iOS and Android.
Payments on iLoveBooks can be made only by credit cards, and downloaded e-books are only readable on the company’s e-readers and not compatible with popular Kindle or Nook devices.
Another subscription-based e-commerce startup in Singapore, Vanity Trove started up in late 2011. Similar to most subscription-based e-commerce services out there, it offers a range of beauty samples every month. However, VanityTrove does not operate an online store as well.
VanityTrove also has an online community made up of members who put up reviews on tested products. Just last week, the startup announced that it has acquired Glossybox Taiwan, and prior to this acquisition, it had already expanded to Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia.
Clozette.co is an online shopping and social networking network and portal for women, launched in November 2010. It also has localized sites for Japan and Indonesia. At the start of January this year, it announced a partnership with inSing, a subsidiary of SingTel Digital Media.
Besides being able to shop from a selection of curated brands on the site, members are able to create and share their online personal closets and discover new fashion trends and statement pieces from other community members. There is also a C2C marketplace section, called Bazaar, where members are able to buy and sell items from other vendors from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, and Indonesia.
Livejournal might not be an e-commerce site, but in Singapore it functions as a very popular e-commerce platform that allows budding entrepreneurs to start their own online shops.
In fact, just in 2011 alone, Livejournal Singapore saw US$72 million worth of transactions from the e-commerce shops hosted on its service. To facilitate the booming growth of blogshops in Singapore, Livejournal introduced a LJ Checkout service in February 2012 to provide sellers more efficient and convenient e-commerce tools.
Founded in 2005, Wego is a Singapore-based online travel e-commerce site and metasearch engine. It has a large number of localized sites catered specifically for different markets such as India, Vietnam, and China, and has offices in Singapore, Australia, Indonesia, India, and the Middle East.
In May last year, Wego invested in Valadoo, a social commerce startup focused on curated travel packages, in its bid to further expand in Indonesia.
Though Singapore’s e-commerce industry is starting to pick up, there are still a large number of Singaporeans shopping on e-commerce sites like China’s Taobao.com and Alibaba.com due to cheaper deals and cost savings with a direct link to the manufacturer. Those sites have a respective Alexa ranking of 27 and 61 in Singapore.
As compared to other Asian countries like South Korea and China, Singapore’s e-commerce scene is still considered to be in its infancy with much room for growth. According to Gmarket’s Founder, it is similar to South Korea’s e-commerce scene 10 years ago!
(This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but hopefully it’s representative of the online shopping scene in Singapore in 2013. Should you have any suggestions or recommendations of other popular e-commerce platforms and sites in Singapore, feel free to drop them in the comments.)