Growth outlook for e-commerce industry to remain healthy in 2022: Experts

More users have jumped on the e-commerce bandwagon over the past few years. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - With the last of the festive sales coming to an end, e-commerce retailers are gearing up to continue pushing their sales with other campaigns.

National University of Singapore professor in strategy and policy Lawrence Loh predicts that the growth outlook for e-commerce will remain healthy for 2022 due to the effect of the pandemic.

"Many people have switched to online transactions to fulfil their needs. Even after the pandemic ends, we have built a foundation of purchasing habits and behaviour among consumers to continue this pattern of buying goods," said Prof Loh.

Mr James Sim, senior lecturer at Nanyang Polytechnic's School of Business Management, agreed that the growth momentum of e-commerce is set to continue in 2022, with more users jumping on the e-commerce bandwagon over the past few years.

Lazada Singapore chief executive Loh Wee Lee said the online retailer is holding thematic sales like its ongoing Valentine's Day sale, online tech shows as well as monthly double digit sales.

Lazada also plans on onboarding more local small and mid-size enterprises to cater to local communities.

E-commerce platform Shopee also plans to hold a consumer day sale on March 15, to provide shoppers more deals and entertainment without having to wait till the year-end shopping season.

It will be Shopee's first mega shopping event of the year, said a Shopee spokesman.

Supermarket chain FairPrice plans to introduce campaigns in the coming months around Covid-19 essential items, healthy food and supplements and exercise gear to cater to the changing needs and lifestyles of its customers, said a FairPrice spokesman.

"At the same time, we continue to grow the product assortment on our online marketplace to include more specialised offerings such as coffee, wine and pet items, as well as curated products from our pharmacy Unity," the spokesman added.

However, Prof Loh said that e-commerce is expected to face challenges such as cyber security, especially with the recent spate of online scams.

"User identity and payment methods are the main concerns when it comes to cyber security," he added.

Other challenges include making online retail interfaces user-friendly and facing competition from other e-commerce players, including foreign players.

"There's also a competitive pressure for prices as consumers are able to switch their supplier at the click of a button," said Prof Loh.

Mr Sim said that social commerce - using social media as part of e-commerce transactions - will also become more important.

"With more e-commerce shops being established, companies need to learn how to maximise the potential of their social media platforms to stand out from the crowd," he added.

Examples of how to do so include developing an engaging communications strategy that builds on the company's brand story to gain traction and curating content that resonates best with its target audience.

Mr Loh from Lazada Singapore said that online shopping is not merely about the convenience factor anymore.

"The shift in customer requirements is evident by the rise of finding entertainment in retail, such as gamification and live-streaming," he said, adding that Lazada works with its delivery and logistics providers, brands and sellers to provide customers with a wide product assortment and convenient delivery options. It also works with them to engage customers and boost digitisation efforts.

The FairPrice spokesman said that the pandemic has also accelerated online shopping, particularly for grocery shopping, and added that the supermarket chain would continue to leverage both its bricks-and-mortar stores and online platform to meet customers' needs.

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