Online shopping, e-commerce

Singapore’s e-commerce market is currently worth some $3.3b and expected to balloon to $5b by 2021. Source: Shutterstock

Singaporean e-commerce shoppers the hardest to please in Southeast Asia

SINGAPOREANS are more likely to complain about their e-commerce experience than any other Southeast Asian national, a report on the country’s retail industry finds.

According to the study by iPrice, Singaporeans are largely considered to be some of the more difficult shoppers around. iPrice surveyed and analyzed more than 30,000 consumers reviews about their e-commerce experience, in partnership with Trusted Company.

Singapore boasts an admirable e-commerce market – currently worth some US$3.3 billion and expected to balloon to US$5 billion by 2021- but retailers face some challenges from consumers who often demand high-quality service before, during and after their transactions.

Take for instance the research’s findings that Singaporeans are far more likely to complain about their experience than anyone else in Southeast Asia. Shoppers from the Little Red Dot provided 34.7 percent of all complaints, compared to Thailand’s 28.67 percent and are also far more likely to request a refund.

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Singaporeans are also harder to please; on average, they rate their e-commerce experiences as 2.9 out of 5 stars, compared to the generally happy Indonesians who rate their experiences 4 out of 5 stars overall.

There is some humor in all of this though: Singaporeans are 25 percent more likely than their Malaysian neighbors to use capital letters in their complaints in order to convey the real texture of their dissatisfaction.

Source: iPrice

It is, however, understandable why Singaporeans are such persnickety e-commerce shoppers.

The country is the most developed in the region, with the most mature e-commerce market, meaning they have been more exposed to the possibilities of web-based retail compared to their neighbors. Around 60 percent of respondents told iPrice  they shop online; Singaporeans registered the highest spend per user worth (US$1022 per customer) in Southeast Asia.

As this e-commerce market grows, Singaporeans are less likely than ever to want to visit physical stores, demanding instead top-notch, personalized Internet shopping experiences. This means retailers and financial services companies have their work cut out for them.

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To adapt to this shifting retail mood, retailers will have to begin integrating digital into their business models, while banks and regulators have to get started on loosening regulations around payment platforms.

And because user experience will be what determines a business’ success or failure, it is vital those on the supply side of this e-commerce boom pay attention to consumer demands.

Source: iPrice

“Regardless of how compelling the e-commerce market is in Singapore, it is still a business that has its share of happy and unhappy customers,” the iPrice report states.

“It is very important e-commerce businesses listen and understand the needs of their customers.”

Retailers might have a tough going of it, but if they work hard to crack the Singaporean satisfaction nut, they have lots of benefits to reap. Singaporeans, for all their pedantry in the actual transaction process, are twice more likely than Indonesians to share their positive experiences with the public on social media and through word of mouth.

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Retailers who have proven themselves in the retail service game also stand to win from the low price sensitivity in Singapore, where a measly 8.69 percent of respondents were likely to comment on product pricing in their feedback. Filipinos complained about pricing 20.05 percent of the time, while Malaysians came in at 9.73 percent.

As with all things, the Singaporean e-commerce market has become increasingly competitive and difficult to navigate, but retailers willing to do what it takes to survive will likely reap high rewards.