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COVID-19 Driving More Online Shopping in Singapore

Published on 12/11/2020 by Anna Hammond

Months into the gradual relaxation of its safe distancing measures after completing the circuit breaker in June, Singapore still has limited permitted travel outside its borders and continued government recommendations to carry out business at home when possible. COVID-19 continues to drive more traffic to eCommerce shops.

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With some of the largest shopping days of the year—Singles Day (November 11th) and Cyber Monday (November 30th)—taking place, we surveyed 1,007 consumers in Singapore to better understand these changes, how long they will last, and the thinking behind the spending shift (*see below for the full survey methodology).

Shoppers in Singapore are spending more

Even though June’s retail sales in Singapore were down 28% year-on-year from June 2019, the industry saw this as a marked improvement. That was already higher than in May, at the height of Singapore’s circuit breaker, when retail sales fell 52% year-on-year‚ a record-breaking drop, according to the Department of Statistics (SingStat).

In response to COVID-19, 48% of Singaporean shoppers surveyed are spending more than they did pre-pandemic.

Most of that spending increase is going to eCommerce, a running theme as we head into 2021. Singapore’s affinity for eCommerce is well-documented, with the average online shopper spending over 1.5 times the global yearly average. Over half (51%) of respondents reported that they would spend more online and less in-store in the next six months, while 31% indicated that they would spend the same amount for purchases online and in stores.

A pie chart showing people are spending more time online since Covid in Singapore

It’s not just money that is being spent: Pre-pandemic, 46% of shoppers surveyed spent 1-2 hours online, while 54% spent more. Since COVID-19, 75% of shoppers spend three hours or more shopping online per week, with three to five hours being the most popular amount of time (41%).

A chart showing the time spent Singaporeans spend online shopping before and since COVID

The survey also highlights a prime time for new eCommerce companies to get their products into the market. 48% of respondents said they had purchased from 1-2 new stores since COVID-19, while only 21% reported that they have not discovered and purchased from any new online outlets.

In-store pick-ups mean increased safety, but also more convenience and savings

Over half (52%) of Singaporeans report using in-store or pickup delivery one to two times per week since COVID-19, with 18% saying they turn to delivery 3-5 times per week.

COVID-19 is a clear factor here, with 55% of respondents citing their preference for eCommerce to be due to a desire “to avoid contact with crowds in-store,” but this also supports a longer-term trend toward the practice. The highest-cited reason was “to pick up items at my convenience” (64%) and “to save on delivery fees” (61%).

Online delivery had similar numbers, with a notable number of newcomers to the online delivery space. Before COVID-19, 18% of respondents had never used online delivery. The pandemic saw that number come down to 7%.

While convenience and a desire to avoid crowds once again topped the list of reasons, 43% of respondents reported turning to online delivery “to take advantage of promotions, discounts, coupons.”

A glimpse into the future of the Singapore shopping experience

More consumers in Singapore are shifting to eCommerce, but that doesn’t mean that the transition is happening smoothly. Those surveyed also pointed out areas where their online shopping experiences could be improved. Over half (57%) of respondents were looking for a more personalized experience, and 73% of respondents requested improvement in “the basics”: webpage load speeds, real-time stock checking, or a smoother checkout experience.

These shoppers are also looking to the future. For example, 48% of those surveyed reported interest in next-generation functionality, such as virtual changing rooms that bring the in-store experience into the virtual realm.

eCommerce companies looking to do right by Singapore consumers will have to continue an omnichannel approach to implementation, as the population has a fairly even split between a preference for mobile shopping (55%) and desktop shopping (45% ). Those interested in adopting an omnichannel approach need to ensure that they are using their data and infrastructure such as inventory management and customer management to deliver a holistic view of their interactions with customers on any channel at any time.

Sustainability could become a big factor in consumer purchase decisions. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of those surveyed reported they would wait longer for eCommerce orders if it could be guaranteed that the products were both sourced and delivered sustainably.

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*Data for the GetApp SG Customer Experience Survey was collected in October 2020 from an online survey of 1,007 respondents that live in Singapore. The survey data used for this article comes from 1,007 participants who qualified to answer.  The information in this article corresponds to the average of all surveyed participants.
The criteria for participants are consumers who have made an online purchase in the last 6 – 12 months.

This article may refer to products, programs or services that are not available in your country, or that may be restricted under the laws or regulations of your country. We suggest that you consult the software provider directly for information regarding product availability and compliance with local laws.

About the author

Anna was a content analyst for GetApp.

Anna was a content analyst for GetApp.