One thing’s for sure. The market is ripe (or ripening) for eCommerce on a local and regional scale.
Online purchase isn’t a new-fangled fad for the tech-savvy crowd in Singapore. Be it tech gadgets, clothes, or even food, consumers have already been clicking and buying from online retailers.
This is mostly thanks to small and large businesses alike banging on the doors of eCommerce to bring you what you need at your fingertips. But for both consumers and retailers to enjoy the benefits of eCommerce, it needs a local and regional duality presence for an added advantage in the market, says key business leaders in the industry.
Talking at Startup Asia 2014, held in Singapore, Rakuten Ventures managing partner, Saemin Ahn, sees a change of culture in shoppers adopting technology for eCommerce and addressing liquidity like the use of carrier billing.
As more shoppers turn to online retailers like Zalora for their clothing apparel, there’s a growing demand for small businesses to look at. Its managing director and founder, Magnus Grimeland, claimed that there’s lots of room for small businesses to boom in Asia, especially given that the region is embarking on an ASEAN 2015 regional strategy for eCommerce.
“It’s opening up the borders for cross border regional play, but there also are some challenges that presents itself, such as the concentration of payments in South-East Asia,” he said.
Qoo10 Singapore country manager, Hyun Wook Cho, mentioned that he too faces some challenges in logistics, such as returns and customs approval to import certain products into Singapore, even though the market for payments has significantly increased.
However, he disagreed that a regional presence is needed for Qoo10 at this current time. “We see positive opportunities that may arise in about two years or so. But not now, we intend to just focus on the Singapore market.”
Taobao International Business Southeast Asia business development director, Kelvin Lee, intends to translate his business model from China into Singapore and the other Southeast Asian countries.
“There needs to be low barriers to entry, like in China. We intend to grow our supporting services into this region as what we’ve been doing in China,” he said.
But the one important message for budding entrepreneurs from Startup Asia’s opening day is this: look at pain points that you can overcome instead of the trends that are around you. Failure to do so means you’ve already missed the boat.