Is Online Shopping the New Normal in Singapore Post-Pandemic?
Even before scientists have found evidence that the novel virus that causes COVID-19 spreads through the air, public health experts have been insisting that one of the best ways to prevent infections is to maintain a minimum of six feet distance away from other people outside the household. Social distancing, as well as mask-wearing and proper hand hygiene, can significantly decrease the risk of catching COVID-19.
As a result, going out and spending time in bars, restaurants, gyms, and the local supermarket has become rather perilous. Although most places rolled out strict measures to minimize transition, consumers chose to make their purchases of goods and services through e-commerce platforms rather than venture outside.
Singaporean Consumers Turning Into Online Shoppers
Online shopping has become the primary way to procure necessities during the pandemic. In the United States, Amazon grew its profit and had to hire more employees to respond to the increased demand for e-commerce services. This is while thousands of small and medium enterprises across the country close down because of the pandemic.
In Singapore, similar trends were observed. Hundreds of SMEs find themselves having to shut their doors, many for good, because of the virus and the restrictions imposed to control its spread.
Online shopping has been on the rise in Southeast Asia for years but 2020 has been a turning point. More consumers are shopping online for their daily needs.
Is this the new normal? When taking out a working capital loan, should entrepreneurs prioritize offering online services over establishing a physical retail space in the post-pandemic world?
Lockdowns Caused e-Commerce Activity to Surge
When Singapore locked down around the second quarter of 2020, online shopping surged. The number of purchases made over the internet between April and June makes up 17.7% to 24.4% of retail sales across the city-state.
Even when shops re-opened in August, online shopping maintained a hold of a significant portion of the market. e-Commerce sales accounted for 10.9% of total spendings for that month.
In a survey conducted by Nielsen, 37% of respondents admitted that their online shopping activities increased this year during the pandemic. Moreover, 76% of them said that they will not return to their level of online shopping before the pandemic, even if COVID-19 has been eliminated.
Nielsen explained that online shopping provides convenience to consumers because they do not have to leave the comforts and safety of their homes. Everything is delivered straight to their doorsteps.
The lockdowns also changed the habits of the public, and that is why they are more likely to lean toward online shopping, rather than make purchases the traditional way, in the future.
Some Unhappy with Online Shopping
Not everyone, however, prefers online shopping. A study found that, while more people shopped online this year, a number of people were unsatisfied with the experience. Close to 40% of those who participated said that aspects of online shopping, including product prices as well as delivery cost and time, can be improved.
Major e-retailers Shopee, Lazada, and Qoo10 were rated lowly by consumers. Consumers were least satisfied with the experience they had shopping with Lazada and Qoo10.
Showing Love to Home-Grown Brands
Encouragingly, many Singaporeans felt that they need to shift their attention and money toward local businesses. Although many well-known foreign brands have a presence in Singapore, 78% of consumers hope to help their countrymen and the economy by prioritizing home-grown enterprises.
Soon, international may lose its prestige and become a dirty word as the pandemic refuels the public’s national pride.
With vaccines being developed and approved, the end is near for the pandemic. Entrepreneurs who had to close their ventures because of the global public health crisis will have a chance again to run their own business. Although online shopping has become part of the new normal, there is still space for traditional retail in Singapore in a world without COVID-19.