SINGAPORE - Online shoppers can expect a shorter wait for their items with the opening of a new $21-million facility at Changi Airport where products shipped from overseas are automatically scanned, sorted and immediately handed to Singpost for delivery.
Before the opening of the new facility by ground handler Sats, these standard postage items were manually scanned and sorted.
With the latest technologies and automation processes, the centre is able to process more than 1,800 bags of parcels an hour - up from 500 previously.
The total turnaround time has also been reduced by half - from six hours to three - which allows items bound for other markets to connect to earlier flights for faster delivery, said Sats president and chief executive Alex Hungate at the official launch of Sats e-Commerce AirHub on Thursday.
The new facility, co-funded by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), allows Changi to enhance its e-commerce capabilities, he added.
CAAS director general Kevin Shum, said the collaboration with Sats is "part of our efforts to transform Singapore Aviation, make the sector more efficient and competitive, create better jobs and improve productivity using technology".
Trade and Industry (Industry) Minister S Iswaran who was at the opening said Singapore is well placed to ride on the region's growing e-commerce business.
Within South-east Asia - the world's fastest-growing Internet region - the user base is expected to grow from 260 million users today, to around 480 million users by 2020.
Driven by this growth, the Internet economy in the region is projected to reach US$200 billion ($279 billion) by 2025, he noted.
Several leading e-commerce companies have already invested in Singapore, Mr Iswaran pointed out.
Last year, Alibaba invested US$1 billion in Singapore-based e-commerce start-up Lazada Group. Rakuten also established its Asia headquarters here.
A growing number of local e-commerce startups, such as Zalora and Reebonz, have also successfully scaled their e-commerce platforms from Singapore to the regional markets, he said.
While the global air freight market remained healthy last year, long-term trends indicate that the sector is facing overcapacity as supply of cargo space has been outstripping shipping demand.
Amid these developments, e-commerce will be an important growth driver for the logistics industry, and the new e-commerce facility will strengthen Changi Airport's attractiveness and value proposition as a leading air hub, Mr Iswaran said.
As the logistics and aviation sector transform through technology, it will also create new and better job opportunities for Singaporeans, he added.
On future plans for the facility, Mr Hungate said: "With ever-increasing e-commerce mail volumes, Sats has deliberately designed this eCommerce AirHub to be modular so that we can increase throughput even further with only incremental investment."