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Greater choice and lower prices draw Singaporeans to foreign retailers online

International marketplaces like Taobao, Amazon, Alibaba and eBay dominated the list of the top 10 overseas websites

Overseas purchases online by Singaporean users increased from July 2020 to June 2021 as they continue to be attracted by the lower cost of items on foreign sites.

They also enjoyed shopping the wide variety of products offered by international brands as the lack of availability from local retailers pushed them to approach overseas alternatives, according to a study by mobile wallet platform YouTrip.

“Singaporeans are becoming seasoned shoppers of marketplaces and brands from around the world. We are expecting this overseas spending behavior to persist when travel resumes, as echoed by nine in 10 of our users who have indicated their preference to continue shopping from foreign retailers after borders reopen,” said Caecilia Chu, co-founder and chief executive officer of YouTrip.

“This high consumer demand positions Singapore as a key market for international retailers. The continuation of this digital habit is also exciting for us at YouTrip, as we double down on our innovation and expand our e-commerce offerings to offer consumers a convenient, reliable payment experience with the best exchange rates.”

What did the report find?

  • Cross-border spending makes up a key component of Singapore’s thriving e-commerce market, which is poised to reach $8bn in 2025.

  • International marketplaces like Taobao, Amazon, Alibaba and eBay dominated the list of the top 10 overseas websites frequented by Singaporeans in the past 12 months.

  • Transactions more than doubled on Taobao (131%) and Alibaba.com (120%) from the year before, and consumers ramped up purchases on eBay, resulting in a 98% increase.

  • In terms of spending habits, peak transactions were registered in the middle and end of the calendar year, specifically in June, November and December.

  • These are in line with mega sale events launched by overseas marketplaces during that period, such as the 618 Taobao Festival and Amazon Prime Day in June 2021, and the 11.11 Singles’ Day, 12.12 Shopping Madness, Cyber Monday and Black Friday sales.

  • Singaporeans rank clothing apparel and footwear as the top category for overseas online shopping. Consumer electronics and furniture and household items followed behind, as locals integrated this work-from-home normal into their daily lives.

  • Health supplement retailers like iHerb and Australia’s Chemist Warehouse were two sites that Singaporeans frequented to get their dose of nutrition, whereas Lululemon HK was the go-to overseas brand for their choice of activewear.

  • Cycling-related transactions more than doubled in the last year, and cycling enthusiasts were visiting leading specialist bike shops such as Evans Cycles from the UK to pick up their own bike and cycling accessories.

  • Overseas retailers also provided a source of solace for K-pop fans in a time when live concerts are halted. Transactions on Weverse Shop, the global merchandise store for top idols such as BTS and GFriend, saw triple-digit growth.

  • Eight in 10 respondents indicated the lower cost of items on foreign sites as the key draw. This was followed by a wider variety of international brands’ products and the lack of availability from local retailers pushing consumers to approach overseas alternatives.

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