Southeast Asia (SEA) has been heralded as the next land of opportunity for eCommerce. With fast-growing markets like Indonesia looking ripe for cross-border sales of your eCommerce goods, it would ideal for your shipment to sail through customs, reaching your customers safely and on time.
Dealing with customs in Southeast Asia could be challenging seeing that each country has its own set of customs regulations, import duties, paperwork and taxes that need to be complied with.
However, compared to its neighboring countries, shipping your products to Singapore is relatively straightforward.
Singapore’s eCommerce market value is US$2.3 billion at present and is expected to grow to US$3.7 billion by 2024 after adjusting for 2020’s recent events.
Consumers in Singapore are well-off with high disposable income. This allows them to spend more online as well.
The number of mobile internet users are also growing over time, leading to an increase in mobile online traffic in Singapore. This makes the booming mCommerce industry in Singapore an ideal growth environment for online businesses.
This is a living page that will frequently be updated with insights about:
Singapore maintains a de minimis value threshold of SGD400 on inbound B2C eCommerce goods.
De minimis rate is the threshold where lesser or no taxes are levied on imports entering the country. This rate takes into account the shipment’s value, shipping fees, and insurance costs if any, which makes up the CIF value.
However, this exemption only applies to goods shipped via air freight. So goods entering Singapore via cross-border trucking or sea freight are still subject to import duties and taxes.
You may also check the tariff amount for your commodity here.
Restricted items that require licenses before going through customs clearance:
Singapore Customs has a website where you can look up the HS Code of your product and see if there is any licence that you would need to apply for prior to importing them into Singapore.
Prohibited items that cannot be imported into the market:
This list may change depending on government regulations. Visit the official customs page for the latest information.
Documents required by Singapore’s customs clearance include:
This gives product details, shipment volume in kilogram or cubic meter, and serves as a checklist to ensure shipment has been packed correctly or not.
This gives total shipment value usually in US dollar. Helps to determine the import duties and taxes, and eligibility of shipment.
If you are shipping without a logistics partner that can clear customs on your behalf, you may need to include the following shipping documentation as well:
Shipping from one country to another, be it an eCommerce delivery or a full container moved via sea freight follows a general set of steps:
You can click on any of the links above to find out more about each step
The first-mile stage in international shipping refers to the first stage of the shipping supply chain, where it either leaves the merchant’s address, be it a storefront, office, or warehouse. Prior to your goods leaving your storage facility, the product has to be packaged and labelled appropriately to facilitate smooth cross border shipping.
Great preparation can help minimise the chances of your shipment going missing or getting damaged during delivery. Generally, you’ll want to do the following:
If you’d like a more in-depth to each of these steps, you can find more at this preparation guide for merchants.
You can also find out more about what the first mile entails in our first-mile article.
As your shipment arrives at the origin country’s port or airport, the parcel would need to be cleared by local customs for export. This is where the customs officers will inspect the parcel’s contents and shipping documents. If you’re planning to ship with B2B, you may want to check if you need to produce specific customs documentation for export on your local customs websites. You can find a list of these on our Customs Clearance in SEA resource page.
When it comes to freight options, shipping your goods to Singapore can generally be done in two ways – air freight and sea freight.
For merchants shipping B2C parcels, air freight is the faster option, especially if you don’t have a consistent order volume and need your parcels to reach the destination country quickly.
On the other hand, sea freight is generally more cost-effective for shipping in bulk. However, it is slightly slower than air freight. When managing your inventory, you’ll need to take into account the estimated delivery date so that you can plan out your supply chain accordingly.
We’re currently building guides to ship to using different mid-mile methods to Singapore from various origins.
More are on the way, so be sure to check back often:
Once your item arrives in Singapore’s airport or port, your shipment will be transported into a customs warehouse for clearance. This is where the customs officers will inspect your parcel and shipping documents and determine if your product is allowed to enter Singapore.
To clear customs for import into Singapore, you or your shipping partner would generally need to provide the following documents:
More information about this is available in this guide’s customs clearance section.
Once your shipment has cleared customs, it will enter the distribution stage of the shipping journey. Your B2B shipments can be delivered directly to its destination. However, B2C parcels need to be at a transport hub to sort them out before the last mile journey can begin.
The last mile delivery stage is where your parcel will be sent from the destination warehouse to your consignee’s address. In Singapore, this stage of the delivery is done via vans. During the last mile delivery stage, your logistics service provider will ensure that your shipment is received by your consignee.
Different countries have different steps at origin customs clearance and different freight modes. To find out more about these for specific origin countries, check out our posts below:
Our next section covers Singapore’s eCommerce insights to power your online promotions and campaigns.
Singapore’s eCommerce market value is US$2.3 billion at present and is expected to grow to US$3.7 billion by 2024 according to Statista. With developed infrastructures and world class airports & ports, Singapore’s market is a conducive environment for eCommerce activities to thrive.
But what else is causing the growth of eCommerce in Singapore?
Major Factors Driving eCommerce Consumption & Growth in Singapore
Singaporeans enjoy having access to better bargains and discounts online.
They are also able to find more product variety from cross-border eCommerce purchases.
Singaporeans prefer to pay using the following methods:
Singaporeans tend to favour using credit cards as it allows them to maximise the rewards programme offered by their credit card provider.
Online discounts tend to be more attractive than those found in physical storefronts. For instance, Lazada’s discounts go as deep as 90%. This makes shopping online an attractive platform for Singaporeans to get the best deals. On top of that, Singapore’s high internet speeds mean that the ability to access multiple eCommerce storefronts to compare prices between them is easier than ever.
As mentioned in the previous section, Singaporeans turn to eCommerce in order to gain access to goods that can’t be found in physical stores, just like almost half of the global populace. According to PayPal’s 2017 study, 73% of Singapore’s online buys are from cross-border eCommerce, with 14% of Singaporean shoppers buying exclusively from foreign websites.
On their payday, Singaporeans like to reward their hard-work by going online to do some well-deserved shopping. This coincides with iPrice’s findings that Singaporeans like to treat themselves, and tend to do so at the end of the month where there is an increase in online shopping activity.
Singapore’s developed infrastructures allow for a conducive environment for eCommerce purchases. However, it means that the conveniences Singaporeans enjoy could be taken for granted. This means they have high expectations of the overall eCommerce experience.
Some of their expectations include having more flexibility and convenience when selecting their delivery addresses, along with the ability to return faulty items.
We take a deeper look at Singaporean consumer behaviour with our shopper’s persona, Meilian, in our article on Singapore’s online shoppers.
Want more insights on Singapore’s fashion industry? Find out more in our article on Singapore’s Women’s Fashion Trends!
This is a summarised version of one of our articles on Singapore’s top products. To find out more, take a deep dive into Singapore’s top four product categories in eCommerce. For a deep dive into the personal care eCommerce trends in Singapore, we also cover various product categories here:
Singaporeans tend to favour using credit cards as it allows them to maximise the rewards programme offered by their credit card provider. On top of this, Singapore’s authorities and banks are looking to convert Singapore into a cashless society by introducing platforms like PayNow.
More information about payment preferences and popular online platforms can be found in our article on Singapore’s online shoppers.
Singles Day, Black Friday & Cyber Monday, and the Great Singapore Sales are among the biggest sales events in the country.
Other popular shopping seasons include:
If you’d like to find out more, we cover each of these periods in more detail in our post on Singapore’s major online shopping events.
Saturday, Sunday and public holidays are non-working days. Please expect shipment delays on these days.
List of public holidays: