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Singapore is the most mature ecommerce market in Southeast Asia where 60% of respondents report shopping online. Singaporeans also spend the most online in the region – on average a shopper purchased online goods worth $1,022 in 2016.

Statista data shows that Singapore’s ecommerce market is expected to increase from $3.3 abyillion this year to $5.1 billion in 2021 growing annually by 11.2%. And the number of online shoppers is forecasted to rise from 64.8% of the population in 2017 to 80.9% in 2021.

Which categories present good opportunities in Singapore’s ecommerce market in the near future?

Singapore ecommerce outlook

Singaporeans mostly shop online for electronics & media

Electronics & media is currently the leading ecommerce vertical in Singapore, similar as in Thailand. It’s predicted to remain as such in the near future, Statista data shows.

  • Electronics & media ecommerce market in 2017: $918 million or 27.6% of total ecommerce revenue
  • Electronics & media ecommerce market in 2021: $1.345 million of 26.5% of total ecommerce revenue
  • Annual growth rate (CAGR): +10%
  • Market’s largest segment: Consumer electronics with a market volume of $679 million in 2017

Currently, there aren’t many players in Singapore who sell online physical media (e.g. books, DVDs, games), consumer electronics (e.g. TVs, stereo systems) and/or communication devices (e.g. computers, smartphones, tablets).

The annual growth rate of online sales in this category is not the fastest, but ensures that in five years time, more than one fourth of all projected online sales in Singapore will come from selling TVs, computers, books and other devices and media.

Furniture & homeware to grow the fastest

This vertical is expected to grow by nearly 15% annually within the next five years from 2017.

  • Furniture & appliances ecommerce market in 2017: $452 million or 13.6% of total ecommerce revenue
  • Furniture & appliances ecommerce market in 2021: $782 million or 15.4% of total ecommerce revenue
  • Annual growth rate (CAGR): +14.7%
  • Market’s largest segment: Furniture and Homeware with a market volume of $317 million in 2017

Selling online furniture and household goods such as kitchen and bathroom accessories, textile furnishings will account for nearly half of the market volume in this vertical.

Below is a few examples of companies currently selling products in this vertical.

Some local players like Horme and Star Living are already seizing this opportunity whereas global giants like Ikea have not yet taken advantage but will most likely move online.

Fashion to become the second largest vertical

Fashion ecommerce in Singapore is expected to have the second highest annual growth rate following furniture. This will make fashion the second largest vertical by sales by 2021, up from the third largest vertical in 2017.

  • Fashion ecommerce market in 2017: $769 million or 23.2% of total ecommerce revenue
  • Fashion ecommerce market in 2021: $1.243 billion or 24.5% of total ecommerce revenue
  • Annual growth rate (CAGR): +12.7%
  • Market’s largest segment: Clothing with a market volume of $584 million in 2017

The fashion ecommerce vertical is unsurprisingly quite crowded in the Lion City. From local marketplaces such as Reebonz and Megafash to local brands like Charles & Keith and global brands like Uniqlo, many have already added online to their sales channel to be where their customers are – in the digital environment.

Hobby and stationery products are big in Singapore ecommerce

Selling toys, baby items, sports and outdoor products, and stationery online is also a big market in Singapore. It is projected to be the third largest vertical in sales by 2021 making up 23% of Singapore’s total ecommerce.

  • Toys, hobby & DIY ecommerce market in 2017: $844 million or 25.4% of total ecommerce revenue
  • Toys, hobby & DIY ecommerce market in 2021: $1.178 billion or 23.2% of total ecommerce revenue
  • Annual growth rate (CAGR): +8.7%
  • Market’s largest segment: Hobby & stationery (e.g. musical instruments and office supplies) with a market volume of $529 million in 2017

Food & personal care to grow 55%

This category is expected to grow to $528 million within the next five years. Although it is the  smallest of all verticals in terms of sales, it is still projected to produce a steady annual growth rate of nearly 12% in the period from 2017 to 2021.

Singapore’s online grocery segment is quite advanced compared to other Southeast Asian countries, while there are limited numbers of beauty online sellers.

  • Food & personal care ecommerce market in 2017: $339 million or 10.2% of total ecommerce revenue
  • Food & personal care ecommerce market in 2021: $528 million or 10.4% of total ecommerce revenue
  • Annual growth rate (CAGR): +11.7%
  • Market’s largest segment: Personal care with a market volume of $231 million in 2017

Looking ahead

Although the country’s ecommerce growth is not the fastest projected in the region, an online shopper in Singapore is expected to spend on average $1,234 in 2021, according to Statista. This stands to be three to four times more than annual online shopping spending in Indonesia and Thailand, nearly 10 times more than in Malaysia, 13 times more than in Vietnam and 26 times more than in the Philippines.

Thailand’s ecommerce market has long been projected by Google and Temasek to become the second biggest in Southeast Asia after Indonesia by 2025 capturing nearly 13% of the market.

Online retail in the country is forecasted to reach $5.31 billion in 2021, an increase 1.8 times from a projected market volume of $2.95 billion in 2017.

But which categories are projected to have the largest sales? And which one will see the fastest growth in the next few years?

Thailand's ecommerce market outlook

Electronics & media ecommerce sales lead online shopping

Electronics & media is currently the leading ecommerce vertical in Thailand and will remain as such in the medium term as shown by Statista data.

The vertical includes the online sales of physical media (e.g. books, DVDs, games), consumer electronics (e.g. TVs, stereo systems) and communication devices (e.g. computers, smartphones, tablets).

  • Electronics & media ecommerce market in 2017: $1.25 billion or 42.5% of the total ecommerce revenue
  • Electronics & media ecommerce market in 2021: $1.77 billion or 33.4% of the total ecommerce revenue
  • Electronics & media ecommerce revenue 2021 vs 2017: +40%
  • Annual growth rate (CAGR): +9.1%
  • Market’s largest segment: Consumer electronics with market volume of $834 million in 2017

Currently, there are only a few players in Thailand that have specialized on this vertical: JIB, Advice, Power Buy, IT City, Banana Store, Munkong Gadget and HP.

Apart from consumer electronics stores, book shops Asia Books and Kinokunya also sell physical media through their own online stores.

While it is the largest ecommerce vertical, its revenue growth pace is projected to be the slowest among other verticals within the next five years.

Apart from specialized ecommerce stores, businesses planning to sell electronics & media should note that online marketplaces also serve as popular sites to purchase such gadgets from.

51% of online buyers reported buying a mobile phone on a marketplace.

Brands opting to sell on a marketplace have a variety of tools available to increase traffic and conversions for their shop-in-shop.

Fashion ecommerce revenue to grow the fastest

Fashion ecommerce sales are projected to increase 2.5 times within the next five years, the fastest among verticals. Fashion is and will remain the second biggest vertical by ecommerce revenues in the medium term.  

  • Fashion ecommerce market in 2017: $525 million or 17.8% of total ecommerce revenue
  • Fashion ecommerce market in 2021: $1.31 billion or 24.7% of total ecommerce revenue
  • Fashion ecommerce revenue 2021 vs 2017: +149%
  • Annual growth rate (CAGR): +25.6%
  • Market’s largest segment: Clothing with a market volume of $345 million in 2017

12% of consumers in Thailand buy clothing & footwear on a few specialised fashion online retailers. The opportunity offered in the country has recently been noted by big global players like Uniqlo and Zara that have opened brand.com stores. It is only a question of time when other big players will follow online.

A large portion of consumers – 25% – shop for fashion on social networks like Facebook, Instagram and chat app LINE.

More demand for toys, hobby and stationery products

Selling online toys and baby items, sport and outdoor products, garden products, hobby and stationery (e.g. musical instruments and office supplies) offers another opportunity for businesses in Thailand.

This vertical is expected to double to $1 billion within the next five years. The good news is there are only a handful of online retailers targeting moms & babies (Orami) or selling office supplies (OfficeMate and Somjai).

  • Toys, hobby & DIY ecommerce market in 2017: $506 million or 17.2% of total ecommerce revenue
  • Toys, hobby & DIY ecommerce market in 2021: $1.03 billion or 19.4% of total ecommerce revenue
  • Toys, Hobby & DIY ecommerce revenue 2021 vs 2017: +103%
  • Annual growth rate (CAGR): +19.4%
  • Market’s largest segment: Hobby & stationery with a market volume of $270 million in 2017

Furniture & appliances to grow steadily

The market projections foresee more Thais will go online to buy furniture and home appliances in the future as the market of this vertical is expected to grow by 80%. Local names such as Index Living Mall, Home Pro and SB Design Square are already pursuing omni-channel strategy having both online and offline shops to reach their customers.

  • Furniture & appliances ecommerce market in 2017:$475 million or 16.1% of total ecommerce revenue
  • Furniture & appliances ecommerce market in 2021:$855 million  or 16.1% of total ecommerce revenue
  • Furniture & Appliances ecommerce revenue 2021 vs 2017: +80%
  • Annual growth rate (CAGR): +15.8%
  • Largest segment: Home appliances with a market volume of $259 million  in 2017

Food & personal care

This vertical is the smallest compared to the others and includes sales of food and beverages, cosmetics, pharmaceutical and medical products. However, its predicted annual growth rate of more than 16% suggests a strong demand in the next five years.

  • Food & personal care ecommerce market in 2017: $186 million or 6.3% of total ecommerce revenue
  • Food & personal care ecommerce market in 2021: $340 million or 6.4% of total ecommerce revenue
  • Food & Personal care ecommerce revenue 2021 vs 2017: +83%
  • Annual growth rate (CAGR): +16.4%
  • Largest segment: Personal care with a market volume of $121 million in 2017

Looking ahead

Thailand’s ecommerce market as a whole is expected to grow with an annual growth rate of nearly 16% in the next five years and online spending per user is expected to nearly double.

Those who buy online on average this year are also expected to spend $243, whereas in 2021, it is projected that every fourth Thai will buy online and on average spend $382. The future looks bright.


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