23 dec bt(online) us sale events spur e-commerce in s'pore
The Business Times
23 December 2013
US Sales Spur E-Commerce in S’pore
23 December 2013
US sale events spur e-commerce in S'pore
Discounts given by online merchants are the main draw
[SINGAPORE] Black Friday and Cyber Monday may be US sales events, but that has not stopped them
from creating waves in Singapore's shopping scene.
In fact, these are the busiest days of the year for local online shopping and shipping service provider
vPost, said its senior vice-president for eCommerce, Marcelo Wesseler.
The company does not provide details on sales volumes; however, it saw an increase in unique visitors
by more than 140 per cent on those two days. Its recently established Omigo.com shopping site, which
currently stocks about 7,000 consumer electronics, toys and baby products from the US and Singapore
merchants, recorded a 127 per cent jump in transactions in the week leading to Black Friday compared
to the week before.
The key attraction for local shoppers is the discounts given by online merchants, which range from 10 to
30 per cent, said Mr Wesseler. While the sale events are well-known to Singaporean shoppers, he said
that a number of e-commerce firms here are still not aware of them or their effect.
One local merchant that has been surprised by the influence of Black Friday is LaPrendo.com, which sells
luxury goods to a largely local clientele. The start of its end-of-season sale, which coincided with Black
Friday, saw a four-fold jump in revenue compared to the company's normal daily revenue. Its director
Shu-Yi Yeo said that the company is considering tapping the sales event in the future not just for its
business in Singapore, but also in the Middle East.
As for Cyber Monday, local shoppers making online purchases with PayPal were whipping up a rate of 10
transactions per minute last year. (The company was not able to provide local 2013 numbers at the time
In fact, this was the busiest day for Singapore shoppers who bought from overseas websites using
PayPal during the October-December period in 2012, said Lawrence Chan, the company's vice-president
for Asia Pacific Merchant Services and general manager for South-east Asia and India. He added that
PayPal saw a 21 per cent increase in Black Friday sales from US merchants to Singapore shoppers last
year, compared to the year before.
For businesses that missed out on e-commerce opportunities during these two events, there is still the
rest of December to look forward to.
Last year, local PayPal merchants fulfilled orders from an international audience at a rate of 11
transactions per minute on Dec 27. Between October and December last year, they reaped a 32 per cent
year-on-year increase in sales volumes, recording growth particularly from buyers in China, Hong Kong,
Australia, Malaysia and Great Britain. The top categories for Singapore merchants experiencing high
year-on-year growth were travel, fashion and software.
Singaporeans are also increasingly buying toys, baby products, supplements and beauty products from
both local and overseas sites throughout the year, observed Mr Wesseler.
Also on the rise is the use of mobile phones to do online shopping.
According to PayPal, the volume of mobile payments it processed globally last year grew more than
three times to US$14 billion. It expects this to further increase to US$20 billion this year.
In Singapore, a study carried out by research firm Nielsen from March to May 2013 found that 31 per
cent of local consumers used their mobile devices to shop online, compared to 24 per cent in 2012.
For e-commerce sites such as vPost, Omigo.com and LaPrendo.com, mobile phone shoppers account for
40 per cent of their online traffic.
"In the mornings and evenings, we see very high mobile traffic as consumers surf while waiting for their
transportation or on their journey to or from the office. However, purchases are made largely using the
desktop or tablet during lunch breaks or late in the evening. Although we see an increase in mobile
phone payments, they make up under 10 per cent of our total payment volume," said Mr Wesseler.
Mobile payment also allows for self-service especially during a sale or in a crowded store, added Ms Yeo.
Some of her customers go into her retail stores to check out the products, and then purchase them with
their mobile phones to skip the queue at the cashier. At times, they use the phones to enjoy an online
She noted that shoppers typically use the mobile phone for single-item purchases. For multiple items,
they prefer the desktop as the larger screen offers them the ease of making comparisons between
"Adopting a mobile mindset is now a critical component for stores to capture customers who focus on
price and simplicity. For example, no-line payment options and tablet point-of-sale check-out will
become more important than ever to draw customers," said Mr Chan. PayPal expects Singapore's online
commerce market to reach S$4.4billion by 2015.