Q&A: What’s driving Singapore’s online shopping craze

June 24th, 2015 | by Alfred Siew
Q&A: What’s driving Singapore’s online shopping craze

Martell Hardenberg

Sure, you can shop ’til you drop in Singapore. But now, the country’s avid shoppers can spend their money just as quickly – and without ever tiring out – on online stores selling a growing number of items.

Convenience is the key reason why people are flocking to online stores, says Martell Hardenberg, chief executive officer for e-commerce site Lazada Singapore.

There is no jostling at increasingly crowded malls, he explains in this month’s Tech Leaders Q&A. And this has helped overcome an old habit of wanting to “touch and feel” a product before buying, he adds.

Q: E-commerce has been booming in the past couple of years in Singapore, where people have long preferred to “touch and feel” products before buying them. What’s changed?

A: People are increasingly becoming more time-conscious. The ease of shopping online minimises time spent travelling, browsing and securing the best deals. With product images featuring multiple angles and customer reviews and ratings, the “touch and feel” element is met in a digital way.

On Lazada Singapore, customers have access to a wide assortment of international and local products, reliable delivery options and the ability to return items free of charge within 14 days of purchase. This makes the entire experience hassle-free and effortless.

Q: Who are the biggest shoppers in Singapore and what are they buying?

A: On Lazada Singapore, shoppers range from millennials all the way to silver surfers! Through 2015, we have seen a surge in young professionals shopping online to get the best deals on consumer electronics and home and living products. There is a particular focus on health and beauty, watches and home appliances.

Q: What’s preventing those who have not shopped online from jumping in?

A: Even as Singapore is quickly advancing in the eCommerce and mCommerce spaces, there are still barriers that can hold potential shoppers back. These include the fear of payment mishaps, delivery issues and the inertia that comes with never having shopped online before.

However, once offline shoppers take the online leap, it is extremely easy to eliminate payment and delivery issues. Shoppers simply need take a few precautionary steps such as choosing cash on delivery for their first purchase, checking in on product and seller reviews and using trusted e-retailers that offer integrated customer service.

Q: What advice would you offer first-time online shoppers?

A: Here are five steps to follow:

1. Get the app. Download e-retailers’ mobile apps and turn on the push notifications to get alerts on the latest promotions. Apps are easier to use and most importantly they are not easy to tamper with.

2. Verify the authenticity. Buy on well-known sites that have a regional presence. In addition, check for security labels such as a PCI-DSS certification. This means the online store has been audited and is certified as safe to use.

3. Make sure you can return. Ensure the shopping site has a return policy. Online shops without return policies can be a scam or be selling unauthentic products.

4. Do your homework. Check news articles about the shopping site to ensure it’s not a temporary online store.

5. Make safe payments. Only use your credit or debit card on sites with a padlock icon in the URL bar. This means the site uses secure communications to prevent any third-party eavesdropping. To further secure your payment details, choose a reputable and secure payment method such as helloPay or cash on delivery.

Q: Besides PCs, smartphones have become popular devices to shop on. What type of experience are users looking for in the next few years?

A: Lazada Singapore has seen a surge in growth via mCommerce with 300,000 app downloads on devices. With access to shopping anytime and anywhere, it is only natural that shoppers choose to purchase on the go.

This circles back to the need to save time and shop when convenient. Another interesting trend we see is social shopping, where shoppers want to consult their friends and purchase directly via social media. Shoppers on Lazada Singapore can shop via Lazada’s Line and WeChat accounts as well.

(NOTE: The responses have been edited for brevity and house style)

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