Despite being a Little Red Dot, Singapore is a major eCommerce market in Southeast Asia. This city-state with a population of roughly 5.70 million1 people is home to 4 million online shoppers and spent USD2.32 billion on online consumer goods purchases in 2019 alone.2 The country also has an exceptional mobile subscription penetration rate of 154.1 per cent, making locals ever-connected to the digital world.3
High credit card usage and openness to mobile wallets have also eased the adoption of online shopping in the country. The country also has among the best logistics infrastructure4 in the world, making it attractive for eCommerce operations within Southeast Asia.
Culturally, shopping is often considered a national pastime5 in Singapore. This propensity for consumerism has led to a relatively mature online shopping market, which now includes niche eCommerce platforms. For example, the country’s top eCommerce players6 include timepiece seller SkyWatches and e-furniture site FortyTwo.
That means eCommerce merchants from outside the country would do well to be present in both major marketplaces, such as Lazada, Shopee and Qoo10, and in relevant specialty platforms.
Singapore’s Major Online Shopping Days
Singles’ Day (11.11)
The Singles’ Day sale, held on November 11 every year, has become a significant event across Southeast Asia, Singapore included. Interest in the sale has been soaring in the past couple of years.
2020’s Singles Day in Singapore saw 16,000 items sold a minute in the first 11 minutes on Lazada.7 This continued the trend starting from 2017. Comparing Singles’ Day 2017 to the same day in subsequent years, iPrice Group observed an uptick in shopping activity in 20188 and an increase in basket size in 2019.9 Shopee reported that 200 million items were sold on their platform during this day across Southeast Asia.
Lazada and Shopee aren’t the only platforms that holds this sale. Platforms such as Qoo10, Zalora, EZbuy and even Amazon actively participate in this annual event.
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Black Friday & Cyber Monday
Singles Day is followed by another shopping period that is beginning to pick up steam - Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with Singaporeans looking to both overseas and local e-commerce platforms to find good deals. While these sales originated in the USA, they have become increasingly known globally.
Criteo reported that in Singapore, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales periods showed 197% sales increases compared to a similar period the month before (October).10 Singaporean newspaper Today reported that long lines of shoppers flocked to Orchard Road to shop on this day, together with eCommerce sites getting a high volume of visits during the first two hours of Black Friday.11
Amazon is a popular option for buying discounted items from the USA, especially during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. (In 2017, the e-commerce giant acknowledged its local popularity by offering Prime membership for Singapore.)
Local retailers also hold sales, both within their offline stores and on their websites. According to the Business Times, Amazon Singapore reported an approximately 84 per cent year-on-year increase for Amazon Singapore’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales in 2019.12 In the same report, Qoo10 saw triple the revenue on Black Friday compared to a regular day, although it still isn’t as high as 11.11.
Singapore has held the month-long Great Singapore Sale (GSS) annually since 1994.13 From mom-and-pop stores to major chains and international brands, retailers across Singapore participate in the sale, offering discounts that can come up to 70 per cent of the original prices.
Of course, eCommerce platforms and online merchants have jumped on the bandwagon. GSS is no longer the exclusive domain of offline retailers. In fact, in 2018, Lazada went the extra mile by holding GSS pre-sale and a GSS Last Chance sale, aside from the main event.
Discounted electronic goods are among the most coveted items during GSS.
While GSS typically runs from June to July, last year saw an extended sale period in celebration of the event’s 25th anniversary. GSS 2018 ran from June 8 to August 12. However, while eCommerce platforms performed well during GSS last year, reports of lackluster sales in brick-and-mortar stores have prompted GSS organisers to consider revamping the format.
This outcome has also prompted the event’s organisers to adopt an omni-channel strategy, launching an app that allows shoppers to find deals and download coupons. This is a sign of recognition that Singaporeans are increasingly using online channels for shopping, which is good news for eCommerce store owners serving Singapore.
GSS was postponed in 2020 due to COVID-19, and slated to take place on 21 June to 25 June 2021.14
Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year (CNY) takes place at the beginning of the Chinese calendar year. It is a major holiday in Singapore, where Chinese citizens count for 74.3 per cent of the population15. The holiday is celebrated with street parades and family gatherings, as well as the giving of fruits and delicacies.
In Singapore, Taiwan, and Vietnam, CNY shopping tends to peak in the two weeks before the holidayitself.16 This allows people to buy gifts in advance, as well as purchase clothing and home decor for the festivities and for the new year ahead. With locals busy enjoying the festivities and participating in family rituals during the two days of the CNY public holiday, they spend less time shopping online on those two days. In fact, online sales begin to dip five days before CNY.
To boost online sales during the season and introduce eCommerce to older demographics, online platforms have made themselves visible during public CNY festivities in Singapore.17 This year, Shopee and Native, a tour-booking platform, set up booths at Chinatown as part of the CNY bazaar.
Meanwhile, platforms such as Amazon, Shopee, and Lazada, which made it a point to sell unique CNY-related items from heritage brands.18 Fashion retailers take the opportunity to sell modernised cheongsams,which are traditional dresses for Chinese women. Shoppers also like to purchase heavy home appliances during the CNY shopping period.19
Smaller merchants can take a cue from these eCommerce giants’ steps and sell CNY-themed items. For example, those selling fashion can find clothing manufacturers who can make modern apparel inspired by the traditional Chinese aesthetic.
Hari Raya Puasa and Ramadan
Hari Raya Puasa marks the end of Ramadan, a month of fasting for Muslims, who make up 15.5 per cent of Singapore’s population by religion.20 Muslims dress their best on Hari Raya Puasa, providing an opportunity for fashion ateliers and retailers to sell clothing in the weeks and days before the celebration.
Elegant, modest fashion21 for women is popular for Hari Raya Puasa celebrations. Zalora, FashionValet, and several other fashion eCommerce platforms and merchants run dedicated sales for Hari Raya Puasa.22 Homewareis also another popular category for Hari Raya sales.
There is no fixed annual date for observing Ramadan, as it depends on the Islamic calendar, which in turn is based on lunar cycles. Hari Raya Puasa 2021 will be celebrated on May 12th and May 13th.
Other Noteworthy eCommerce Events
For some sellers, 12.12 is deemed as the culmination of a month-long sales period that began in 11.11. For buyers, it’s a chance to find bargains that they may have missed during November’s sales events, and an opportunity to shop for Christmas and year-end presents.
In 2020, Shopee saw a record 12 million items sold within the first 24 minutes of its 12.12 birthday sale.23 This is contrasted with 2018 when Shopee saw a record 12 million orders across the region during the 12.12 sale.24 Shopee reported that some of its top selling item categories included home decor and appliances, mobile & gadgets. They also mentioned that for men, car accessories, alcoholic beverages and baby products were popular while the same for women were essential oils and
9.9, held on September 9 marks the start of the year end shopping season. Lazada’s LazMall Big Brands Sale at midnight the night before saw sales in the first 2 hours double that of the year before. On Shopee’s end, 12 million items were sold in the first hour of its 9.9 shopping day across the region.
In Singapore, most orders tend to be placed using mobile phones. Shopee takes advantage of this high mobile usage by running campaigns such as in-app games, such as Shopee Shake, which allows users to win Shopee coins.25 Other methods include daily Spin-the-Wheel games with prizes such as promo codes and bonus coins.
Lazada Singapore’s Birthday Sale
Lazada Singapore offers discounts of up to 90 per cent during its Birthday Sale, officially held on March 27 in 2019 but usually running for at least three days. This year, over 100 brands held a total of 1,500 flash salesduring the Birthday Sale.26 Popular deals included discounts for beauty products and shoes.
Even after 11.11 and 12.12, Singaporeans continue shopping near Christmas Day on December 25—and even afterwards.27 One reason is that merchants also offer post-Christmas markdowns as well as back-to-school sales during the festive season.
Singaporeans buy Christmas gifts for themselves, their loved ones, and their office parties. Every year, numerous articles are written with ideas for gifts under $20 and under $35, especially for office gift-giving. Christmas baskets and customised items are also popular items, especially for business-to-business gift-giving. Online merchants may also want to sell festive decor before the Christmas holiday or even offer discount vouchers that are usable during the Christmas period.
It could be a bit troublesome not having all these dates in one place. To give you a hand, here is an infographic that contains all the shopping events discussed:
Types of promotions merchants can run
Hold minor sales days prior to a major shopping event. Not only does this help you build up anticipation; it also allows you to bring in sales with fewer competitors around.
On the day of a major shopping event, hold flash sales that last for an hour or two, complete with a counter indicating the number of products sold and the remaining available items.
Competitive arousalhas been shown to positively affect online purchase intention, especially when paired with time scarcity.28 That means buyers don’t like it when they miss out on an opportunity to get a good deal, especially when they see that other consumers have already bought the same and when they know they’re running out of time to make a purchase.
Surprise boxes are like product bundles, except that people don’t know what’s inside of them. This is your chance to delight and surprise buyers, as well as introduce less popular items by including them in a box with more in-demand products.
To decide what to place inside your surprise boxes, analyse the items that your buyers typically purchase together or search for in the same browsing period. Try taking a look at Google Trends to discover trending searches, too.
One of Shopee’s 9.9 sales tactics is to hold themed days—24-hour periods focusing on major discounts for a specific product category.29 Aside from enticing consumers, this helps you simplify your supply preparation, as you’ll know which items will be in high demand on certain days.
Partner with cashback platforms
Cashback platforms like ShopBack are widely popular in Singapore. After all, with their ‘kiasu’ approach, locals can be quite ingenious when finding ways to not miss out on great bargains. (‘Kiasu’ is a local term that means the fear of losing out to other people.)
By partnering with cashback platforms, you can expose your online store or brand to a wider audience and encourage them to make a purchase.
High opportunity, high competition
Being Southeast Asia’s economic powerhouse, Singapore is an attractive pie for online merchants. Shopping has been ingrained into the locals’ lifestyle. While that’s a good thing, that also means that local retailers and online sellers are quite adept at competing for consumers’ wallets.
Increase your share of the Singapore eCommerce market by taking advantage of sales periods and tailoring your products and promotions to locals. Understand what makes Singaporeans click on the ‘purchase’ button and provide them with a pleasant and convenient user experience, powered by flexible end-to-end eCommerce logistics and international shipping.
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Interested in SEA’s hottest online sales periods? Find out more with our collection of blogposts: