While having the honor of being the most connected island state, Singapore's penetration in e-Commerce versus her brick-and-mortar counterparts has not been shiny star in this first world economy. Singapore ranks 30th in the world for online retail spending. But much of that is changing, thanks in part to government policies on labor and skyrocketing rentals for retail space. Due to popular unhappiness in Singapore about overcrowding and limited public infrastructure to support the current growth of immigrant residents, we have seen the government push to reduce the number of foreign workers that companies can hire by tweeking the local-to-foreign worker ratio of SMEs. This has impacted the retail and service industries the hardest, and we do not see relieve in sight. With loose Fed money swirling around this open economy, Singapore has also enjoyed an real estate boom when US and EU are struggling to come out of their recession. Asset inflation has hit hard on the costs of retail space in Singapore.
All this may augur well for e-commerce in this island state. We take a look at some of the fast growing e-commerce models using inbound lead nurturing and conversion strategy in Singapore:
1. The Hybrid-Model: An example of a recent hybrid model is giantonline.com.sg, which runs hypermarket stores across the island. But with parking and overcrowding apparent everywhere on weekends and holidays, shopping is a chore that most families put up with. With high rentals, even Giant stores now have tighter aisle space that barely accomodates on oversize shopping cart. Shopping for essentials is no fun! No wonder the online version is beginning to get more traction ... low prices and promotions only available online is an added attraction.
2. The High End: Singapore has a never ending love affair for high end handbags and shoes. Here comes www.rebonz.com.sg ready to meet that unending need for high end fashion. Promising everything high end including discounts and pre-owned, Rebonz is doing well in both local and international. Taking e-commerce one-step further, Rebonz also has mobile shopping for those who cannot wait to log in at home!
3. Addicted to Groupons: WIth an impressive customer e-mailing list, Groupon in Singapore has pushed the model way beyond the discounted pre-pay dining/service coupon model. Leveraging their client list, Groupon.Sg is as much into merchandise as they are into dining/services. They have also launched a premium section going after the high-end e-shoppers. Given the confines of a small city state, Groupon has the advantage of high density spending!
4. The Mass Market e-Things: If you take a look at Qoo10, you will immediately realise it has almost everything imaginable that you can buy online - from electronics to cosmetics. The segment is clearly mass market for everything at a price that will make people come back. Qoo10 is counting on the users to find everything they need here at a price they can smile about! Again, with a small geography, delivery is often quick and inexpensive.
5. The Subscription Model: An interesting subscription model is Bellabox.sg that operates in Singapore and Australia, offering for a fee subscription, a hand picked box each month for a fee containing samples of cosmetics and beauty products for makers of such products. If you like the sample, you can buy the real thing online. Also check out www.thefrenchcellar.sg -- an interesting subscription model for fine french wines. Starting at $79 per month, you get two-bottles to sample each month handpicked by their wine experts. If you like it, you can reorder the bottle or even by the case online. We see a growing opportunity for gifting using this model.
The real asset behind each business model is their highly secretive and guarded customer email list and the analytics. Digital interaction especially with mobile is cheaper, better and faster than snail mail -- and most importantly, you can refine your e-commerce strategy almost on the fly. Smart e-commerce retailers changing their strategy, look and feel frequently to optimise their sales.
If you are thinking about starting an inbound e-commerce business-- one built on the principes of inbound marketing-- in Singapore, it is not too late. This is a young market just ripe for the picking.