What’s Powering eCommerce Giants Q4 Promotions in SG?


What Powered eCommerce Giants Q4 Promotions in SG?

What made Singaporean online shoppers tick in Q4 2019

While we’ve previously covered a lot about Singapore’s general eCommerce scene and how important the fourth quarter’s sales periods are in this market, we haven’t dived into the kinds of promotions and insights that work during this period.

Here, we’ll look a little at what some of the eCommerce giants were up to this Q4 and what can be applied for the next year. But before we do that, it’s good to go over the numbers as to why Singapore is one of Southeast Asia’s biggest eCommerce markets.

Singapore’s eCommerce market is set to grow 48%1 to US$9.98 billion by 2022 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7%. While home to a relatively small population compared to its Southeast Asian neighbors, 84% of Singapore’s population, or 5 million people, are internet users in the country according to the Digital 2019 Singapore report2 conducted by Hootsuite and Wearesocial.

Singaporeans also report the highest average total amount spent for every order3 in Southeast Asia over a period of time, with basket sizes averaging US$91 per purchase according to a report by iPrice.

With the likes of 11.11, Black Friday and Cyber Monday and 12.12 all packed into this one quarter, the amount of eCommerce deliveries is staggering. Last year, Singpost delivered more than 580,000 parcels4 locally in the month of November — that’s a 24% increase from the same year’s non-peak months, and a 25% increase year-on-year. This spike can be attributed to the number of online sales that happen at the latter half of the year.

But how could we capture more of that traffic? What do the likes of the eCommerce giants do to remain kings in this area? Before we take a closer look at those, let’s see the general consumer trends in Singapore.

Online Consumer Trends in Singapore

Popular  eCommerce marketplaces

According to iPrice5, the top five eCommerce platforms in Singapore in terms of highest monthly active users include:

  1. Lazada (7,803,900 monthly web visits)
  2. Qoo10 (6,943,100 monthly web visits)
  3. Shopee (4,117,000 monthly web visits)
  4. EZBuy (1,366,200 monthly web visits)
  5. Zalora (1,197,800 monthly web visits)

From this list, we can see that marketplaces dominate the list. Overall, Lazada recorded the highest monthly active users for their Mobile App & the highest total visits (desktop & mobile web) on their website in Q3 2019, garnering an average 7.5 million visitors a month.

Shopee was the most downloaded mobile eCommerce shopping app in Singapore, garnering more than 2.8 million average visitors. Taobao is the most actively used mobile eCommerce shopping app that isn’t tailored for the Singaporean market.

However, just because you aren’t on these platforms doesn’t mean you can’t succeed. Businesses that sell on their own websites can still compete. These include the likes of Love, Bonito which ranks 8th on the same iPrice chart.

Top product categories

The report by Hootsuite and Wearesocial breaks down Singaporean eCommerce spend by category as follows:

  1. Travel, including accommodations (US$3.641 billion)
  2. Electronics and physical media (US$1.080 billion)
  3. Fashion and beauty (US$999 million)
  4. Furniture and appliances (US$726 million)
  5. Toys, DIY, and hobbies (US$658 million)
  6. Food and personal care (US$647 million)
  7. Video games (US$85 million)
  8. Digital music (US$26 million)

Singapore’s spending grew by 21 percent overall in 2018, but varied significantly across categories. The consumer goods sector as a whole went up by a whopping 35%, representing the fastest growth of any country in Southeast Asia. Travel, on the other hand, grew incrementally exhibiting 8% growth compared to 2017.

Here’s some particularly good news for those who sell the following categories:

  • Fashion grew by 30% compared to last year
  • Toys, DIY and Hobbies grew by 40%
  • Food & Personal Care grew by 47%

How much the Singaporean shopper spends

Here are a few key facts6 about eCommerce spending habits in Singapore:

  • Singaporeans spent a total of almost US$8 billion online in 2018, equating to a per-capita spend across the country’s total population of more than US$1,300 – almost four times greater than the global average
  • Singaporean eCommerce shoppers spent an average of more than US$1,000 each on online purchases of consumer goods in 2018
  • Total online spend increased by more than 20% since last year

These spending habits are likely to carry over into Q4, especially with peak shopping season coming into fruition.

How eCommerce marketplaces target consumers in Singapore

Building communities through gamification

Lazada makes use of games in their apps to build engagement with its shopping app, but more importantly, it uses these activities to build communities around the activity. In an interview with Mumbrella7, Lazada Singapore CMO Michelle Yip mentions that eCommerce is the new window shopping – when you’re browsing the aisles of a store, you want to be entertained and delighted.

Lazada uses its app’s activities to not only entertain and delight, but to bring people together as a group. What’s happening here is that Lazada is making use of people’s desire to be part of a community and to share good news. In essence, these discounts and deals created through their app to become viral.

While very few of us have the resources to build gamified apps, the insight around building groups around your brand and promotions is worth noting. Traditional methods of building communities such as engaging your audiences through emailers and social media still works, as long as you give your audiences relevant and useful content. That’s also covered in the next point about creating highly localised content below.

Creating highly localised content across new channels

Large eCommerce marketplaces in Singapore are moving towards more localised content that’s integrated across a variety of channels. In anticipation of 11.11, Shopee pulled all the stops8 to deliver just that.

First, they came out with Shopee Live, which live-streamed a couple of hosts playing a game of hangman with an invisible audience. Not only did they leverage a new channel that offered real-time content, but they also made use of Singaporean’s high connectivity to interact with the audience. Shopee also tapped into local influencers to amplify their sales campaigns, including Naomi Neo, Jianhao Tan, Soh Pei Shi, and more.

While you may not have the resources that Shopee has, it shows that Singapore’s highly connected consumers enjoy engaging with interactive content related to your store. Livestreaming, which is a popular way for online stores in China to engage with their audiences, could be worth trying the next time Q4 rolls around to engage your Singaporean consumers.

At the same time, you can still develop engaging and useful content to give people a reason to come back using more easily accessible channels. Providing newsletters, emailers and social media posts around your topics your product is involved in is a good way to retain user engagement, and when the time comes to promote your audience will likely be more receptive. If you’d like to know more about building conversations, we cover that in an earlier article about expanding your eCommerce store overseas.

Diversifying purchasing options for price-conscious Singaporeans

Everybody loves a good deal, and that’s precisely why Qoo10 is the second most popular eCommerce platform in Singapore–one-upping Singapore-based Shopee, the top platform for the majority of Southeast Asia.

More than just the availability of cheaper options, one of the primary reasons Qoo10 is popular in Singapore is because it combines multiple models within the same platform9. Other than simply purchasing an item on a discount, users can also opt for Group Buys, Express Shop, and Auctions when they shop at Qoo10.

Group Buys allow users to receive a discount when multiple people purchase the same item. Auctions allow users to bid on products. And Express Shop offers fast delivery. Not only does this provide flexibility on the buyer’s end, it also offers unique discounts and benefits that aren’t available on other platforms.

Q4 is a good opportunity for you to test out different business models. Other than the usual discounts and buy-1-take-1 promotions, experiment with a referral scheme or auction off limited-edition products for a certain time period. Especially since it’s the season for gift-giving, buyers are more open to jumping through the hoops for a good deal.

What’s been happening during Singapore’s major online shopping events in Q4 2019

11.11 (11.11 Sale or Singles’ Day)

Cashback platform ShopBack saw 250%10 more unique users in the first hour of the day compared with last year. The most popular eCommerce merchants in Singapore were Lazada, Shopee, and Qoo10. Qoo10 saw a spike in sales compared to last year, they sold 5X more products in the first hour. The top-selling categories included baby care, electronics, and beauty.

Black Friday & Cyber Monday (BFCM Sale)

Traditionally, Black Friday has always been a post-Thanksgiving sale for brick-and-mortar shops and Cyber Monday is a part-2 sale, devoted to online shops. This may still be the case in western markets where Thanksgiving is celebrated, but in Singapore, Black Friday and Cyber Monday blend together both online and offline sales promotions for both days.

According to The Business Times11 , Amazon Singapore reported an approximately 84 per cent increase year-on-year for Amazon Singapore’s BFCM sales. While this highlights BFCM’s growing importance in Singapore, its close proximity to 11.11 could dampen some sales figures. Qoo10 saw Black Friday rake in triple the revenue than a regular day in July, but its 11.11 recorded a 6.5 times revenue increase compared that same regular July day.

12 December (12.12 Sale)

As of the time of this release, 12.12 in 2019 hasn’t happened yet, but we’ll update this as soon as we can.

Riding along on the hype of the 11.11 and Black Friday sales, you may think the 12.12 sales will be overshadowed. However, the facts prove otherwise. According to Vulcan Post, Shopee saw over 12 million12 orders in 24 hours and over 48 million visits on 12 December 2018, breaking all past records set for 11.11.

The top three most popular categories during the Shopee 12.12 sale in Singapore were: Beauty & Personal Care, Home & Living, and Mobile & Gadget. Beauty brands Laneige and Kao, and audio brand JBL emerged as leading brands during the sale.

Recapping What’s Happened in Singapore’s eCommerce in Q4

From what we’ve seen, Singapore will continue being an important part of Southeast Asia’s eCommerce scene. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are increasingly important sales dates, but is still overshadowed by the 11.11 and 12.12 behemoths.

We may not have the massive resources that the likes of the Shopee and Lazada have, but we’ve seen here the importance of building a community around your brand to keep your promotions top of mind. By giving your customers a reason to keep engaging with you, they’ll be more likely to engage with your promotions when the time comes. Live-streaming and working with influencers are worth thinking about too.

Just as importantly, you don’t want to forget about the delivery experience. This is the moment of truth for your customers: will their shipment arrive late or broken? Especially if you’re shipping items to international customers, you’ll want to team up with experts in cross-border eCommerce deliveries who can help you deliver on time and on target.


Janio is a expert in cross border shipping in Southeast Asia with an end-to-end solution powered by tech and data. If you’d like to find out more about Singapore or what we do, reach out to us!

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Interested in eCommerce in Singapore? Find out more about Singapore’s eCommerce scene here:



  1. Singapore Business Review: Singapore e-commerce market to balloon 48% to $9.98b by 2022
  2. Digital 2019 Singapore
  3. IPrice: State of eCommerce in Southeast Asia 2017
  4. Singpost: SingPost sees surge in parcel volumes in year-end peak season
  5. IPrice: The Map of E-commerce in Singapore
  6. Datareportal: Digital 2019 Spotlight – Ecommerce in Singapore
  7. Mumrella: ‘Ecommerce is the new window shopping’ – Lazada Singapore CMO Michelle Yip
  8. The Drum: How in-housing marketing and creative helps Shopee cope during the craziness of 11.11
  9. Kr Asia: A tight race to the top for Singapore’s e-commerce platforms
  10. Straits Times: E-commerce sites hit new highs for Singles’ Day sales
  11. The Business Times: Singapore retailers score hat trick with mega sales events
  12. Vulcan Post: Shopee Saw 12 Million Orders On 12.12 – Here Are The Brands S’poreans Splurged On

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