In just 10 years, business partners Jeson Wu and Jason See have turned their store on online marketplace eBay into a $10-million-a-year business.
Gift Time, a watch retailer, now spans several e-commerce sites and four bricks-and-mortar stores here. But more than 90 per cent of its sales come from overseas, Mr Wu told The Sunday Times.
After buying a few watches from retail stores here and turning a profit selling them across the border on eBay, the duo decided to turn the sideline into a business in 2007.
"Overseas taxation and operation costs tend to be higher... Retail prices for electronic and branded goods (in Singapore) also tend to be cheaper than in the United States and Europe," said Mr Wu, 51.
They got off the ground by buying cheaply from grey importers and pricing the watches competitively online. In 2010, they took advantage of lower rental rates to open their first retail store in Beach Road and work with local distributors.
Gift Time now carries some 4,000 varieties of watches from nearly 30 brands, including Casio, Nixon and Seiko, managed by a central inventory system.
Its top markets are Europe, the US and Australia, which helped the company to make about $10 million in sales last year.
While it has since joined other e-commerce platforms such as Qoo10 and Lazada, eBay remains its biggest driver of sales, with an estimated $4 million this year.
"We're reaching out to the world versus the small population in Singapore," said Mr See, 41.
Gift Time is among the top earners on eBay Singapore, which has seen 21 per cent year-on-year growth in cross-border trade from Singapore.
Cross-border trade is the main focus for eBay Singapore, and it makes up the overwhelming majority of transactions here, said a spokesman for the platform.
Another of eBay Singapore's top-growing cross-border-trade sellers is J316, with year-on-year growth of 173 per cent on eBay and estimated turnover this year of $1 million after just two years on the platform.
The business, started four years ago by Mr Poh Yong Heng, sells used semiconductor parts to markets like the US, Taiwan and South Korea.
Mr Roger Poh, who helps his father run the business, said: "It's a niche market - 80 per cent of our customers are businesses. They use high-end machine parts to make tools like microchips in smartphones."
By buying in bulk, the company is able to sell its parts at up to five times cheaper than retail, said Mr Poh, 24. "Our own website doesn't compare to the reach that eBay has... It also has a lot of tools to tap on for sellers."