How to start online business in Singapore: trends, steps and digital strategy


Singapore is one of the fastest growing e-commerce and online shopping markets in Asia. Many Singaporeans are digital-savvy, and use the Internet to research about products, and even purchase them. Embrace this important trend and learn how to start online business in Singapore.

Important Trends and Facts for Singapore Online Businesses

Scope out the “new digital landscape” with these important trends that are defining and driving both retail and B2B markets.

The online purchase power of the middle-class shopper

If you want to grow your online business, then you have to prioritize one of the biggest and most powerful online consumer groups: the middle class.

By 2022, there will be 350 million middle class consumers. They have higher income, and they’re spending it online—not just basic goods like groceries, but high-end brands and “affordable luxuries” like premium cosmetics. Large ecommerce platforms like Lazada get more than 14 million visitors a month, with an  average revenue per user (ARPU) of US$675.

Experts predict that the Singapore ecommerce market will reach 100 Billion US Dollars by 2025.

Mobile-first companies have a head start

Shopee is a good case study for any company who wants to learn how to start online business in Singapore. When it first launched in 2015, it was competing against well-established shopping sites. However, it took a mobile-first strategy, and posted remarkable growth rates in its first four years. By 2020, it had quadrupled its value.

Content is still King

One of the biggest mistakes (and myths) that new online entrepreneurs make is they ignore the importance of content. A bare website that only has a product catalogue will not attract customers or earn their trust or loyalty.

The biggest shopping platforms invested in content. Lazada and Shopee have live-stream shows and mini games. L’Oreal and Estee Lauder create tutorials and videos, and tie up with influencers to promote their products. Even supermarkets and food chains push out social media posts that share tips and build their community.  

Content increases engagement, helps enhance your search engine ranking, drives social media campaigns, and gives heart and substance to all promotional activities. Without this, your online business is just a digital brochure.

earn money online

Customization is critical

Perhaps one of the most exciting developments in digital commerce today is the use of artificial intelligence and big data to create customized product offers.

However, this technology (and the software that uses them) is still prohibitive for entrepreneurs or SMEs that want to know how to start online business in Singapore. However, you can apply the principle of customization by creating customer personas, and planning targeted campaigns for each stage of their buyer journey. You can work with a Singapore digital marketing agency to segment your market and launch these campaigns on the right platforms.

B2B Commerce is going digital, too

While the first online businesses targeted consumers, many B2B companies are transitioning to digital platforms, too. In fact, industry experts predict that by 2025, B2B ecommerce will exceed the B2C market.

How to start online business in Singapore

How to start online business in Singapore

These trends certainly indicate that the Internet is the new battleground. Brands have to compete for consumer attention, spending and loyalty on the digital space—and even seasoned entrepreneurs and well-established brands realize that it’s not as easy as it seems. These tips can help!

Use these steps as a roadmap to help you create a strong brand identity and lay the foundation for your online business. While this is a very simplified and streamlined guide (many factors like content marketing or search engine optimization involve a lot of technical or strategic details), it can help you set milestones and give you an idea of what you need to succeed online.

Step 1: Create a Strong Business Identity

You have a product or service—but that’s not enough. The most successful businesses have a very strong brand identity. They don’t just sell goods, but a customer experience or brand story. It is the only way to differentiate themselves from the thousands of over online sellers who offer the same product at the same price. To do this, ask yourself:

  • Who is my customer? What are his needs, frustrations, and pain points?
  • How does my product or service meet that need?
  • What makes me different from competitors? What is my unique value proposition?
  • What is my brand personality—tone, images, colours, etc?
  • How will my customers find me? What platforms will I use to communicate with them?

Step 2: Build your website

This is a very important step, so it’s important to work with an experienced and reputable website development company. Your website is both your digital store and the key to your online reputation—if your site is slow or poorly designed, it will drive away customers and create a negative impression that is more expensive to correct.

A good website should be easy to navigate, mobile-friendly, optimized for search engines, and have engaging and useful content.  It creates a good customer experience so that people find it easy to learn more about your product, make a purchase, and contact you if they need any help.

Step 3: Drive traffic with search engine marketing

An SEO specialist can improve your website’s SEO score so that it shows up even in organic search. However, if you really wish to promote your website quickly, you can grow your traffic  through PPC (pay per click advertising) and other search engine marketing campaigns. This is one of the best ways how to start online business in Singapore in the fastest time possible.

Step 4: Create relevant, useful and authoritative content

As we said earlier, Content is King. Not only is content critical for search engine optimization, but it also tells your customer that you are an authoritative, trustworthy brand. Be sure to provide good descriptions of your product and service, and your company. Include blog posts, videos or FAQ’s that can answer customer questions. If you are an ecommerce company, be clear and transparent about shipping, returns, and other processes and policies.  Anticipate what your customer will need!

Step 5: Use digital marketing to communicate with your customers

Digital marketing can help you attract new customers, and stay in touch with them even after purchase. You can use email marketing, social media marketing, SMS, landing pages, and more. Many brands use a combination of these tactics to reach customers in different stages of the buyer journey. You can work with a Singapore digital marketing agency to create the best “marketing mix” for your brand and budget.

Singapore Regulations for Online Businesses and Ecommerce  

It is important for any Singapore online business to comply with government regulations, such as:

  • Consumer protection regulation – includes rules on the sale and return of goods, which protect consumer interests and prevent fraud
  • Protection and Security of Digital Data – covers issues like security of credit card payments and protection of personal information
  • Intellectual Property protection in the Cyberspace – includes important copyright rules for using images, videos and text

Be sure to work with your lawyer to know that you meet all legal criteria for running an online business in Singapore. You may also need to copyright your brand name and logo, clear your Terms and Conditions for online purchases, and know your rights and responsibilities for situations like return of damaged goods or the limits for promos.

How to start online business in Singapore, quickly and strategically

MapleTree Media can help you launch your online business! We are a full-service web development and digital marketing agency. We can create your website, provide SEO and content creation, and then promote your products through email marketing, social media marketing, and more. Contact us for your customized proposal.

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