Let's go shopping... on the Internet

A survey finds that Singaporeans are won over by attractive deals, convenience and safe payment methods.

Singaporeans are flocking to online shopping platforms thanks to lower overall costs, free shipping and safe payment methods, according to a new survey.

It found that online shoppers here spend $155 a month, or $1,860 a year, on purchases and travel bookings.

Those with monthly salaries of between $4,000 and $5,000 spend about $194 a month, 20 per cent more than those earning $5,000 to $6,000.

Fashion is the No. 1 spend category for shoppers with a monthly income of up to $6,000, but preferences change as income changes.

Electronics is the second most popular category for people earning $3,000 to $5,000 a month, while those earning less than $3,000 a month have made health and beauty their second choice.

Only people who make $4,000 to $5,000 a month count travel among their top three online expenditures, while respondents earning over $6,000 a month spend more online on groceries than fashion and electronics.

The survey by personal finance comparison website SingSaver.com.sg and online shopping rewards portal ShopBack polled nearly 2,000 Singaporeans aged 21 to 60.

Consumers use a combination of strategies to stretch their savings, including comparison shopping, anticipating flash sales or deals, trying items in-store, searching for reviews, and using credit cards that reward them for their purchases.

Recent figures indicate that by 2025, Singapore's e-commerce market will make up 6.7 per cent of the US$5.4 billion (S$7.48 billion) from all retail sales, up from 2.1 per cent or US$1 billion now.

About 37 per cent of the respondents agreed that online retail deals are better than offline ones.

Consumers use a combination of strategies to stretch their savings, including comparison shopping, anticipating flash sales or deals, trying items in-store, searching for reviews, and using credit cards that reward them for their purchases.

In general, Singaporeans tend to go online when prices are lower compared with offline stores, when special deals and promotions are ongoing, when clear product information is provided and when shipping is fast and affordable.

ONLINE SHOPPERS COMPARE PRICES TO FIND THE BEST DEAL

Before clicking the checkout button, online shoppers take a couple of steps to ensure they get the best possible deal.

About 92 per cent compare prices across different websites before buying.

Some even compare prices and quality in person and 60 per cent who try on items in stores buy them online if they can get them cheaper.

Comparison shopping is a must for travel as well, with 95 per cent of the respondents using aggregators to compare flight and hotel prices before making a booking.

Even after finding lower rates somewhere else, 86 per cent are willing to delay their booking to wait for flash sales, discounts or cashback deals.

However, shoppers draw the line at tolerating discomfort during a flight with only 41 per cent somewhat willing to sacrifice comfort and convenience for a cheaper flight.

ONLINE SHOPPERS PAY WITH CREDIT CARDS TO MAXIMISE SAVINGS AND REWARDS

About 79 per cent of the respondents prefer to use credit cards, followed by PayPal at 12 per cent and eNets at 3.8 per cent. Cash-based payments like cash on delivery (2.3 per cent) and direct bank transfers (2.04 per cent) were the least popular methods.

Among credit card users, 67 per cent prefer Visa, while 27 per cent use Mastercard and 6 per cent use American Express.

The most widely used credit cards were from DBS (26 per cent), OCBC (22 per cent), Citibank (17 per cent), and UOB (15 per cent).

Besides being convenient, shoppers use credit cards because of the savings or rewards they can earn from their purchases.

ONLINE SHOPPING ON SINGLES' DAY

Singles' Day, the Chinese shopping holiday used by e-commerce giant Alibaba Group to promote sales, is gaining traction in Singapore.

Alibaba has announced that Singles' Day will be held over 24 days this year, starting on Nov 11, instead of just one day.

Last year, it had an estimated global turnover of more than 91.2 billion yuan (S$18.68 billion).

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 06, 2016, with the headline 'Let's go shopping... on the Internet'. Print Edition | Subscribe