Major e-store launches in S'pore

Lazada, bankrolled by German firm Rocket Internet, launched the Singapore version of its online store here last Tuesday to sell things ranging from clothes to frying pans and vacuum cleaners. -- PHOTO: SCREENSHOT OF LAZADA WEBSITE
Lazada, bankrolled by German firm Rocket Internet, launched the Singapore version of its online store here last Tuesday to sell things ranging from clothes to frying pans and vacuum cleaners. -- PHOTO: SCREENSHOT OF LAZADA WEBSITE

Lazada joins foreign online shops like Qoo10, Taobao, Rakuten for growing pie

Another major foreign e-commerce player has set up shop here, in a boon for online shoppers.

Lazada, bankrolled by German firm Rocket Internet, launched the Singapore version of its online store here last Tuesday to sell things ranging from clothes to frying pans and vacuum cleaners.

Three other well-known foreign e-commerce players have entered Singapore in the past year.

Leading Chinese e-retailer Jingdong launched its Singapore site here last August; Taobao, China's top online marketplace, set up operations here last September; and its Japanese counterpart, Rakuten, officially launched its Singapore site in January.

With their entry, shoppers here can expect to get purchases delivered within two to five days, instead of a week or more for items from the likes of Amazon in the United States. Shipping also costs less.

Dr Guan Chong, a lecturer at SIM University's School of Business, said: "Within Singapore, the shipment for products like apparel could be free. But when you buy from online retailers based abroad, such as Taobao's China site, the first kilogram could cost $13 through a shipment company."

Mr Amos Tan, 37, lecturer of retail strategy and operations at Singapore Polytechnic, said: "With more such online retailers entering the Singapore market, they will have to differentiate themselves from one another through pricing, variety and services." This can make such online shopping, including exchanging items, more convenient, he added.

Mr Martell Hardenberg, 27, co-founder and managing director of Lazada in Singapore, said it was crucial to provide convenience for consumers here.

"In other developing markets, access and supply can be an issue for consumers who live outside big cities. In Singapore, people are spoilt for choice, so convenience is important," he said.

To give consumers greater convenience, it will launch mobile apps for Android and Apple devices later this month. It has online stores in five other countries including Malaysia and Vietnam.

Singapore is a draw for e-commerce players because of its technological and logistical infrastructure, and Singaporeans' IT savviness, said Dr Guan.

Many e-commerce players here are doing brisk business. For instance, online marketplace Qoo10, a joint venture between eBay and Korean auction and shopping mall website GMarket, has seen business surge since its 2010 launch here.

Transactions on Qoo10's Singapore site rose 56 per cent from 90 million in 2012 to 140 million last year and nearly 80 per cent to 250 million so far this year. In the past few months, it has raked in between $15 million and $16 million in monthly sales.

The number of orders on Rakuten's Singapore site has risen by 50 per cent month-on-month. It has 170 local and Japanese merchants and aims to have 300 merchants by the end of this year.

Shoppers here welcome the increased choices.

Information systems executive Wong Yi Wen, 28, who spends up to $200 on Qoo10 a month, prefers using local and regional online stores instead of US-based ones as she does not need a third-party shipping service. "Singapore-based online retailers have more domestic merchants, so I can get my things easier, faster and at better prices," she said.

cherylw@sph.com.sg