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Selling In A World Without Borders: Getting Started With Ecommerce

Selling In A World Without Borders: Getting Started With Ecommerce

  • 23 June 2020
  • By OCBC Business Banking
  • 2 mins read

In this post, we guide you through how your business can adopt ecommerce, with insights from successful business owners and leading business experts.


According to a 2018 study conducted by Google and Temasek Holdings, the Internet economy in Singapore reached US$10 billion in 2018. What’s more, this market is projected to rapidly increase to US$22 billion in 2025.

Looking forward, businesses should look to ride on the rise of ecommerce here and in the region. But what’s the best way to get your business started?

From establishing your online store to acquiring customers to delivering your products to customers, we spoke to our panel of successful business owners and leading subject experts to bring you their unique insights into ecommerce.

Ready to read more? Let’s jump in.


Building Your Own Shop

For businesses looking for full control of their ecommerce presence, building your own online store makes a lot of sense. You can shape up your brand and decide how you market your products. Having your own online store gives you access to markets which you are unable to establish a physical presence.

That has been the case for local jeweller Gordon Max. Having an online store allows them to reach out to customers in countries where they have no market access. Its founder, Ms. Kellin Koh, shared: “We used to have a franchisee in Australia. Now we are no longer there, but our Australian customers continue to buy from us through our online store.”

With ecommerce platforms such as Shopify, you can set up your own online store in a matter of minutes, even if you lack technical know-how. But setting up your online store is just the start. There’s still the matter of marketing your business.

Ms. Sarah Tan, Market Development Manager for Shopify in Singapore, shared. “One common misconception made by SMEs in setting up an online store is to have the ‘Build And They Will Come’ mentality. Simply having a presence online doesn't guarantee buyers will find your ecommerce store on the vast landscape that is the Internet.”

This is why the Shopify comes with digital marketing tools such as a blog builder, SEO (search engine optimisation) tools and integrations with Facebook Ads. Try Shopify for free with OCBC’s Start Digital Pack.



"One common misconception made by SMEs in setting up an online store is to have the ‘Build And They Will Come’ mentality. Simply having a presence online doesn't guarantee buyers will find your ecommerce store on the vast landscape that is the Internet.

— Ms. Sarah Tan / Market Development Manager for Shopify

Selling On Marketplaces

Investing in marketing can is essential to the success of your website. Another way to increase your reach is to list on marketplaces such as Lazada, Qoo10 and Shopee.

Mr. Donald Chan, founder of Impact! Brand Communications, shared: “The fact of the matter is that, even if you set up your own store, if you’re a brand that no one has heard of before, there will be no one visiting your site. If you want to clear the hump, go and participate in the marketplaces. But where possible, drive people back to your store. It comes down to going where the consumers are.”

There are several key advantages when it comes to selling on marketplaces. For one, these marketplaces enjoy significant user traffic, with their own pool of existing customers. Another key advantage is that consumers are more willing to buy from marketplaces due to their built-in seller ratings and user reviews systems. The presence of online reviews provide a layer of social proof to assure users on the trustworthiness of sellers and quality of goods sold.

On the flip side, there are also some disadvantages associated with selling on marketplaces.

Apart from the (sometimes high) fees that you have to pay and competitors whose listings are lined up right next to yours, you may also take a longer time to receive payments, as some marketplaces will hold on to your payment until the buyer acknowledges receipt or a period of time has passed. You need to consider all these in your cashflow management.


Signed, Sealed, Delivered

Before you take in orders, think about how you are going to deliver the goods.

Thankfully, the logistics industry in Singapore has developed significantly in the last few years, with players in the ecommerce niche.

Mr. Lai Chang Wen, co-founder and CEO of Ninja Van, shared his thoughts on what makes a good logistics partner: “For SMEs, the delivery service should be easy to use and not require much thinking about. If you have to think a lot about how to use the system, how to work the interface, it gets very troublesome and that's not a good express logistics provider.”

And if you’re thinking whether it’s more cost effective to deliver your own goods or to outsource to a logistics provider, Chang Wen shared this anecdote from their early days.

“If you have 30 orders from all over Singapore, there is no way you can deliver that all in a day. When we first started, we tried that with 2 persons and could barely manage 20 deliveries a day. Today, with the use of technology and systems and processes though, our drivers can make more than 100 deliveries per day.”



"For SMEs, the delivery service should be easy to use and not require much thinking about. If you have to think a lot about how to use the system, how to work the interface, it gets very troublesome and that's not a good express logistics provider.

— Mr. Lai Chang Wen / Co-Founder and CEO of Ninja Van


Summing Things Up

With the projected growth of the ecommerce in Singapore and around the region, SMEs should look to start sooner rather than later.

The entry barriers to getting started in ecommerce have also never been lower, with plug-and-play ecommerce platforms like Shopify and ecommerce logistics providers such as Ninja Van. With this and more, it’s time to set up an online sales channel to complement your brick-and-mortar stores.

Disclaimer

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OUR PANEL OF EXPERTS

Kellin Koh — Founder and Executive Director
Gordon Max & Co. Pte Ltd

Kellin Koh — Founder and Executive Director
Gordon Max & Co. Pte Ltd

A dedicated mother, entrepreneur and philanthropist, Kellin’s mantra is that the celebration of beauty comes with responsibility. Guided by this philosophy, Kellin set up Gordon Max— a socially responsible jewellery and fashion line which pushes the boundaries of technology to produce high-quality synthetic diamonds. After more than 20 years in business, Gordon Max is now an internationally known brand with presence in 9 countries.

Sarah Tan — Market Development Manager
Shopify

Sarah Tan — Market Development Manager
Shopify

Sarah leads up Market Development for Shopify in Singapore. As part of this role, Sarah's ambition is to grow the ecosystem of partners around Singapore and APAC to become a thriving community supporting merchants and each other.

Donald Chan — Founder and Managing Director
IMPACT! Brand Communications

Donald Chan — Founder and Managing Director
IMPACT! Brand Communications

With close to two decades worth of sales and marketing expertise, Donald has witnessed how the landscape of marketing has evolved over the years. Him and his team at IMPACT! have helped many companies in the Technology, B2B and Healthcare sectors update their strategies and scale their business through content marketing, search, PPC and new technologies.

Lai Chang Wen — CEO and Co-Founder
Ninja Van

Lai Chang Wen — CEO and Co-Founder
Ninja Van

Chang Wen's first step into entrepreneurship in online retail made him realize that there could be a more efficient way of delivering and tracking packages, resulting in the creation of Ninja Van in 2014. Today, Ninja Van is one of the region’s fastest-growing last-mile logistics company with a network covering six countries: Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.