Starting your first eCommerce business can be fun and exciting, but also, nerve-racking and scary, mostly down to the fact that there are so many things that you need to do before you can start selling online. So, let us be your guide, and show you how to start an eCommerce business in Singapore.
What you need to know before starting an e-commerce business in Singapore
Cost is a killer and knowing how to keep it down is going to help you spend more on marketing that is needed to make your Singaporean eCommerce shop a success.
This guide acts as a sort of checklist offering some guidelines on what you need to do when starting off.
Sometimes it is very hard to know how to start a business that can generate income without having to spend too much, so we will cover this mostly, and try to keep your costs down as much as possible.
Starting an Ecommerce business in Singapore – Checklist
Ok, so there are multiple things that you need to take on board when starting an eCommerce business in Singapore, the first thing you need to know about is, what niche are you going to be selling in. Once you have figured out the niche, the next thing you need to start is researching and understanding your market.
Research and understand the market (Complete each one)
Now this here is key:
- Knowing your target market – for this, a good idea is to look at who your niche competition are, what they are doing and what they are selling online.
Who your customers are – the next thing you need to do is create a buyer persona of your perfect customer, their age, income, etc.
- Where they hang out online – next you want to look at where they hang out online, are the forum lovers, blog readers, YouTube watchers, Tik-tok fanatics, Facebook stalkers or Instagram lovers.
- What they are buying – look at the products that your competitors are selling, do research on Facebook Ads Library to see what ads are currently running (this is a good indicator of what is selling well)
- And how they like to be sold to – look at the ad types, the words that are being used, the content of the videos etc, as this will give you a great idea of what your buyers like.
- This is so important when it comes to selling your products online.
Once you have these things you will get a much better idea of the different types of products you can sell to them, and then you can go and find it, or them, if you don’t already have one.
Choose your Online Store Software
We have a few recommendations for the best eCommerce platform in Singapore to choose. In our opinion and over 5,500 other Singaporeans, Shopify is the best online store software for getting your first shop up and running online. Also, it starts at $29USD per month and comes with payment already integrated, plus a whole host of other features that makes it the easy choice for people getting started.
If you are familiar with using WordPress, maybe you can try using WooCommerce, which is an online store extension for WordPress that allows you to turn your ordinary website into an ecom store.
If you are planning on taking a fairly big offline shop onto the online world and have lots of products then going for BigCommerce might be the right thing for you.
Connect Payment Systems
You can’t take payments on your new store unless you have your payment systems set up, and by systems, I mean, you need to have a payment gateway that will allow you to take people’s orders.
Shopify has some great ones integrated into it already, the likes of Stripe and Paypal, and even Shopify Pay, but there are a whole host of other payment systems that you can sign up for including:
- Shopify Payments,
- Liquid Gateway,
- DBS PayLah.
There are many more, and if you are using Shopify, a huge array of them, like shown in the adjoining image.
How Will You Deliver Your Products
After you know how you are going to take payment a good idea is to know how you are going to make your deliveries. If you are selling local you can use national post, if you are selling international then you may want to consider other options.
But, this all depends on the products that you are selling also, are they weight or security prohibitive, if so, you will want to figure out what is right for you.
Also, will you be:
- Packing the goods yourself, and if so,
- How will you pack them,
- Who will pack them,
- And how will you get them to the post office for onward delivery.
Marketing your business
Once you have chosen all of the things above, the next thing you want to look at is how are you actually going to market your business, and to start with, if you did your research in the first part, you will know the types of places that your customers hang out and you will be able to easily choose a marketing vehicle/s for your products.
Some different types that we use in our online business include:
Content marketing – This is the creation of content for your website, social media channels, and blog. The creation of this content is with the aim of engaging people on the platforms you syndicate your content to, so as to entice them to take the desired action on your website. So in this case, it would be to make a purchase from your eCommerce store. Types of content that work well for eCommerce include things like, reviews, listicles, videos, and product demonstrations.
SEO (search engine optimization) – This is the utilizing of keywords inside of your content (and on and off your website) so that people can find your content. The main aim of SEO is to push your website to the top of the search engines for your chosen keywords. An example of this might be “best coffee maker for weasel coffee”, or whatever your chosen product might be.
YouTube – Video is on fire and e-commerce stores are using it to make a killing. The reason being, people love to see products in action before they buy, and Youtube allows this due to the video nature. Think about it, before people used to walk into a store, play about with the product then decide to buy. Now they research online, read reviews and watch videos of it to make sure that it is the right choice.
Facebook – Love it or hate it, Facebook is still a great place to make sales, but might not be how you think it. Yes, you can run ads, but Facebook ads are getting pretty expensive these days and the inventory of their offering has declined, meaning higher competition fr the ad spaces that are available. A different way to look at it would be to look at niche-specific Facebook Groups and providing great informative content about your products.
Instagram – Instagram is made for selling products, but you have to be smart when using Instagram, and if you are newly starting out, the best route would be to look at Instagram Shoutouts for your products, or influencer marketing. While they might cost you a bit of money, the reach and engagement that some of these niche-specific social media stars get can help sell your products (when chosen correctly).
Google Ads – And the last one that we mention here is Google Ads (while not the last marketing medium by any distance), the utilizing of the search giants ad network to deliver your ads in front of 90% of internet users worldwide. A huge ad network, with absolutely brilliant targeting options, you should always look to get started and learn the ropes with GA as soon as possible (if budget permits).
Now, before you get into all of this and choose a marketing vehicle, it is advisable to seek professional legal advice (which we are not) on your obligations for setting up a company entity for your new eCommerce store.
Design your store
Just like any website, your eCommerce business needs a good look and feel. Things to make it really stand out for the litany of others.
- You need a good logo,
- You need to choose a website font style,
- You need to choose website colors,
- Pick a good website theme to make your site look good,
- Design email templates,
We recommend hiring out this process to someone with design experience, as too often people doing the design work on their own, let all their hard work fall down by not looking good, be aware of this.
You can pick up some great designers to work on a freelance basis by using a site like Upwork or Fiverr.
Incorporating Your Business
If you already have your business set up and incorporated this section isn’t an issue, but if this is going to be the first time you are setting up a company in Singapore, you need to decide on a few things before you do so you can go through the process of incorporation much smoother.
- Name you hope to call yoru company,
- What your company will actually do (up to 2 things)
- Who your directors will be,
- Who your shareholders will be,
- Registered office,
- Company secretary,
- Share capital,
- Constitution Documents,
Also, when applying to the Company Registrar of Singapore (ACRA), you need the following:
- At least one Shareholder,
- A minimum initial Paid-up Capital of S$1,
- At least one Company Secretary,
- At least one Local or Resident Director,
- A local registered address for company office.
So, there you have it, How To Start An eCommerce Business In Singapore in a clear concise manner – get the following things sorted out first so when you do get started, you won’t be wasting time figuring out what it is you need to do