It’s not just the government policies that have made Singapore a haven for start-ups. The people of Singapore have equally contributed to the current economic ecosystem of the country, which is highly popular among young as well as seasoned entrepreneurs alike. People love technology. The city-state can quickly adapt to the newer ways of life that are influenced by technology. A perfect example is the growing popularity of Habitat by Honestbee, a store operated by Artificial Intelligence. The store provides a human-free experience to the shoppers, where robots help people with everything they need.
Another significant comfort level that people of Singapore have achieved is in terms of online shopping. E-commerce in Singapore is a booming business. It has become a way of life for a big part of the Singaporean population, which works hard in the office and has little time to visit malls. Singapore also happens to be the most e-commerce mature market in Asia, with a cap of 4.9 billion USD as of 2019. The sector expected to grow at approximately 14% until 2023, by which it will be an 8.6 billion USD industry. These numbers have attracted entrepreneurs and lead to several e-commerce start-ups in several niches. Here is a roundup of the top 7 e-commerce start-ups of Singapore.
Lazada is an e-commerce brand that aspires to be the Amazon of Asia. The portal was founded in 2012 (backed by Rocket Internet) and had been revolutionizing the retail space in different ways. In the latest, Lazada teamed up with experts from the Institute of Higher Learning and Data Analytics Experts to formulate a course for entrepreneurs and SMEs about in-depth knowledge of e-commerce.
Lazada has been able to fund itself repeatedly successfully. It’s biggest investor, Alibaba Group has invested 4 billion USD in the company to make Lazada its regional flagship candidate. Lazada has a strong presence in six countries – Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. Lazada not only provides a platform for the buyers and sellers to come together and sell, the portal also focuses on improving customer experience by the use of technology and operational efficiency.
Other investors of Lazada include JP Morgan Chase & Co., Holtzbrinck Ventures, Access Industries, and Kinnevik.
Carousell is a growing start-up of Singapore with its presence felt in other countries as well, like Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Australia, and the Philippines. The platform allows the consumers as well as business owners to list things that they would like to buy or sell. The platform is mainly known as a marketplace for second-hand goods. Founded in 2012 and incorporated in 2013, Carousell is worth more than 500 million USD as of today. However, as per a report, the business is set to merge with 701Search, a firm owned by Norwegian telco Telenor Group. This merger will take the evaluation of Carousell to over 850 million USD.
The major investors of Carousell include Olx, AppWorks, Atami Capital, DBS Group Holding, and EDBI.
Carro serves the motorheads of Singapore, Thailand, and Indonesia. The start-up was founded in 2015 and has become Southeast Asia’s largest automotive marketplace. The start-up recently closed its Series B funding round with investments coming in from the likes of SoftBank Ventures Asia, EDBI Pte Ltd, Insignia Ventures Partners, B Capital Group, and a few others. Series B brought in USD 90 million, taking the total invested amount to USD 105 million. The new funds will allow the company to expand its presence in other countries and also widen the scope of services.
Carro is highly technology-driven. It offers a trusted and transparent buying and selling experience to the users by the use of a proprietary pricing algorithm. The company also provides other services like in-house financing solutions taken care of by Genie Financial Services, a sister concern, several after-sales services, and the first on-demand roadside recovery platform of Singapore, among others. Carro recently launched a subscription-based model in Singapore. This model will change the way that people of Singapore think about car ownership.
Zilingo is a fashion-based start-up that has enabled the small shop owners from South East Asia to get online and open to a broader market. The start-up connects the business with other stakeholders through its cutting-edge innovations in the sphere of sourcing, marketing, financing, and sales.
The company leveraged the growing internet connectivity of the SEA region and brought small merchants from the streets of Thailand, Singapore, India, and Indonesia on a single platform. Through this platform, the sellers can create a catalog and indulge in high volume B2B transactions. The company has been able to source over 600 million USD, edging closer to the Unicorn Status.
The popularity of the start-up touched the sky in 2018 when the platform introduced several seller-management tools. These tools helped small-scale businesses in taking control of the inventory levels, cash flows, and communication with other companies. All this generated a new stream of income to the companies listed on the platform, attracting more business owners to get online with Zilingo.
Zalora is Asia’s fastest-growing fashion and online beauty retailer having headquarters and software development center in Singapore. It means that the current operations are not only maintained from Singapore, but the future of Zalora in terms of technology, user experience, user demographics, and marketing, get decided in Singapore. Zalora was founded in 2012 and has raised close to 235 million USD from various investors, including the likes of Rocket Internet, Kinnevik AB, Summit Partners, Verlinvest, Access Industries, and Tengelmann Group.
Zalora was set up with a mission to make shopping for clothes and accessories an enjoyable experience. The website reflects the ideology in every aspect of user experience. The company promises top-notch customer service, a 30-day return period, and delivery within 3 working days.
Shopee was introduced to the world in 2015 as a social-first, mobile-centric marketplace. The portal got made to allow anyone to list and sell whatever they want. The portal has several features that enable the users to collect payments, manage inventory, and even take care of logistics on the go. However, the business soon had to introduce a website to compete with other growing e-commerce platform in the region. In an attempt to compete with the likes of Lazada and AliExpress, Shopee launched an escrow service that protects the money of both the parties involved in the trade. The escrow service is known as Shopee Guarantee.
The escrow service, combined with other measurable efforts by Shopee, led to the platform being the to top Shopping App by Monthly Active Users, Total Downloads, and Websites with the Most Visits, ahead of its top competitor, Lazada.
Reebonz is a marketplace for luxury goods. It was founded in 2009 in Singapore and has expanded to Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, China, Australia, and the United States until 2019.
Reebonz started its operation with a vision to make luxury accessible and convenient. The portal allows the people to buy and sell new as well as pre-owned luxurious items coupled up with personalized services. As of 2019, Reebonz has eight specialized services catering to the different needs of the customers. The essential service provided by the platform is called White Glove. White-Glove is a concierge service that allows the members to pre-owned designer pieces.
Reebonz has been able to source approximately 60 million USD in funding through 5 investors. The investors include Intel Capital, GGV Capital, Infocomm Investments, Mediacorp Singapore, and Matrix Capital.
Should a New Start-up Enter E-commerce?
The start-up expenses related to an e-commerce service can vary from a couple of hundred dollars to numerous thousands of dollars depending upon the scale and level of service that an e-commerce site plans to provide. Finding the funds to start an eCommerce venture is an obstacle for any hopeful entrepreneur. The funding challenge ends up being even more substantial as the business begins to grow and mature. Nevertheless, as appears from the above pointed out start-ups, there are several resources that Singapore-based online store can tap into for capital infusion. Moreover, the eCommerce industry in Singapore is growing at an impressive rate. This means that there is scope, and a big market to tap into for a new eCommerce start-up.