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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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Apparel and tech gadgets are two things that are almost synonymous with online shopping. According to Statista, ecommerce sales in fashion and the electronics & media categories make up more than 50% of total online sales in Southeast Asia.

Statista estimates ecommerce sales in the electronics & media category will reach $5.26 billion this year across six Southeast Asian countries (find below), while the online fashion market will reach $4.464 billion.

websites where online shoppers buy fashion and mobile phones in SEA

Fashion online sales in the region are expected to double within the next five years and electronics & media are expected to increase 1.5 times. Where are customers going online to look for these products?

Google’s Consumer Barometer has some answers and based on the data, a couple of online channels in Southeast Asia stand out for buying clothing & footwear and mobile phones.

Where are shoppers buying clothing & footwear?

Consumers mostly buy apparel on general online marketplaces and e-shops that predominantly focus on selling fashion and footwear. Less people report buying on brand.com but until only recently did well known brands such as Adidas, Zara, Uniqlo, started to offer their products online in Southeast Asia.

Other popular online shopping destinations include social sites such as Instagram and Facebook and apps like Shopee and Carousell who are dominating C2C market sales in the region.

websites where online shoppers buy fashion and mobile phones in SEA

Where are shoppers buying mobile phones?

As for electronics, there is a larger variety of channels shoppers use to buy mobile phones. In Indonesia, classifieds sites and mobile phone brand stores are the most popular choice for shoppers.

In Vietnam, shoppers favor online shops of mobile retailers and big box retailers, while in Thailand people shop on general e-retailers. websites where online shoppers buy fashion and mobile phones in SEA


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The hype surrounding ecommerce in Southeast Asia is high and everyone from small retailers, globally acknowledged brands to established giants like Alibaba and Amazon are looking to tap into the market.

Similar to other markets, Southeast Asia experiences seasonality in sales – some months are quiet while others experience a rush of eager shoppers. National holidays across the six biggest nations in the region differ, so which are the best performing sales months?

Regional ecommerce enabler aCommerce has shared data that sheds light on online shopping seasonality for various categories in the region.

Best time for sales?

The year end holidays unsurprisingly provide great opportunities for retailers as shoppers flock to the stores looking for gifts, decorations, and Southeast Asia is no exception.

Nearly 40% of online sales are generated in the last three months of the year – October, November and December.

While 2016 saw a number of brands and retailers in Southeast Asia follow in Alibaba’s Singles Day, the world’s biggest online shopping festival held on November 11, sales leading up to the massive campaign were actually higher in October and December.

eIQ seasonality of ecommerce sales in SEA in 2016

Source: aCommerce data includes Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore.

There were slight differences across countries but the last quarter was the peak of online sales in the four markets. Retailers usually begin preparing for the holiday season in August/September to accommodate the sometimes 300% increase in sales volume. This means marketing campaign collateral, raising awareness of future sales, hiring extra staff in warehouses, etc. 

Best performing category?

When looking at trends in category sales, similar patterns emerge showing higher month-on-month (MoM)  growth at the end of the year.

Beauty products and consumer electronics show higher fluctuations in MoM sales growth, while fashion & apparel sales growth is steady.

In 2016, electronics sales increased 2.5 times in October compared to September – most likely due to the release of the new iPhone 7 from Apple in Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. Sales of beauty products tripled in November most likely boosted by holiday season campaigns advertising cosmetics as gifts for upcoming celebrations.

Kiehl’s Indonesia campaign for 2016 holiday season.

“The Asia Pacific region generates the highest sales via digital retailing for the beauty and personal care market. Its 2010-2015 CAGR at 25% outpaces global internet retailing CAGR at 15%. Therefore, targeting Asian consumers requires a strong online strategy,” said Joanna Chan, Beauty and Fashion Research Analyst at Euromonitor International.

However, a winning online strategy will differ across countries as consumers in markets like Singapore are tech savvy, use credit cards and buy online frequently and in other markets like Indonesia or the Philippines, the poor infrastructure and internet speed need to be taken into account.

As retail around the globe shifts towards a model where online serves as an additional branding, marketing and sales channel for traditional brick-and-mortar stores, stepping into ecommerce will reap first-mover advantage.


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Indonesia is projected to capture 52% of Southeast Asia’s total ecommerce value by 2025.

Total revenue from ecommerce in Indonesia only this year is predicted to reach $6.96 billion, and projected to rise to $14.47 billion by 2021, meaning that total revenue will double in four years.

Statista data shows us what businesses looking at the Indonesian market should keep in mind for the next few years.

Fashion is a leading vertical in ecommerce

Fashion consistently dominates as the country’s top selling vertical in online retail and is predicted to increase in revenue every year until 2021.

Fashion 2016: $1.99 billion total revenue

Fashion 2017: $2.47 billion total revenue

Fashion 2021: $5.32 billion total revenue

Current key players in fashion ecommerce:

Matahari Department Store, Salestock, Zalora, Lyke, Berrybenka, muslim fashion store Hijup, and Kuki

Source: eIQ ECOMScape Indonesia

Food and personal care to experience slow growth

The total revenue for online food and personal care in 2016 was $0.49 billion, and predicted to reach $0.71 billion by 2018. By 2021, food and personal care online revenues are projected to reach $1.07 billion, trailing behind verticals such as electronics, fashion and furniture but still expected to double.

Furniture and appliances to experience steady rise

The graph suggests that more Indonesians will be jumping online to buy couches and chairs. A few first movers in the furniture industry such as Fabelio will be a part of the market that is expected to bring in a total revenue of $1.18 billion and  predicted to rise to $2.39 billion by 2021.

Looking ahead

Indonesia’s ecommerce market as a whole is  set to grow.All verticals ranging from fashion to toys are all poised to experience 2X growth by 2021 as internet penetration is going to jump from 13% to 21% by 2021.

Here’s what you should know.

1. Groupon Malaysia officially rebrands as O2O platform Fave

KFit, which acquired Groupon Malaysia in November last year is now known as Fave.

This move will see Fave integrate all of Groupon Malaysia’s customers as well as deals from businesses such as restaurants, spas, fitness centres, hotels and more; essentially transforming Fave into a holistic lifestyle O2O platform.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. Temasek unit Heliconia launches $422m international partnership fund

This is aimed at helping Singaporean enterprises expand abroad and internationalise their business operations.

With its focus on Asian markets, its policy of joint investment means that local firms can partner with other Asian companies to engage in extending product lines, brands or value chains, or otherwise gaining access to markets, channels and technologies.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

3. Recommended Reading: Why marketplaces are essential to a retailer’s international strategy

According to a report from Accenture and AliResearch, global cross-border ecommerce is set to reach as much as $1 trillion in 2020. In addition, data has shown that globally 63% of frequent cross-border buyers shop internationally at least once a month.

Online marketplaces have fully integrated IT, stock management and reporting systems that retailers can leverage when selling in a new market. This data can be used to further develop local propositions and manage the allocation of stock.

Read the rest of the story here

 

4. Community Chatter: KFit founder Joel Neoh shares his thoughts on Fave

Source: Joel Neoh’s Facebook