Amazon releases report on e-commerce export opportunities for Singapore MSMEs
By Digital News Asia October 12, 2021
- B2C e-commerce export value to grow from US$1.03bil in 2021 to US$2.6bil by 2026
- Three key challenges faced – barriers in cost, regulation, information and capabilities
The annual value of business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce exports in Singapore is estimated at US$1.03 billion (S$1.4 billion) in 2021 and could reach US$2.6 billion (S$3.5 billion) in 2026 if micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) accelerate their pace of using e-commerce to sell overseas.
Currently, MSMEs are estimated to contribute 45% of Singapore’s B2C value of e-commerce exports in 2021.
These are findings from Amazon’s new ‘Local Sellers, Global Consumers: Capturing Singapore’s e-commerce export opportunity’ report, which surveyed over 300 MSMEs from Singapore, and was released at the inaugural ‘2021 Amazon Expo, Seller Boot Camp’.
The report, prepared by consulting firm AlphaBeta, is the first-of-its-kind in analysing the size of Singapore’s e-commerce export potential, the perspective of local MSMEs, and best practices to achieve that potential. A full report which includes findings from other ASEAN countries will be released at a later date.
Over 3,000 SMEs from Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines have joined this Seller Boot Camp, a 3-day virtual event hosted by Amazon from 11-13 October 2021, to equip themselves with the tools, resources, and knowledge to seize cross-border opportunities, increase their customer reach, and expand their business globally.
During the event, Enterprise Singapore’s (ESG) Executive Director (ICM & Digitalisation), Lee Yee Fung, shared how the Singapore government and industry experts are working together to help local businesses unlock opportunities with e-commerce.
Bernard Tay, Head of Amazon Global Selling, Southeast Asia, said, “We are on a mission to help MSMEs start local, grow global. Local businesses of any size can benefit from this report to understand a range of topics, from business models and export regulations to consumer needs and foreign competition. Along with the report insights, our first-ever Seller Boot Camp comes as a timely opportunity for small enterprises to identify the current gaps in their operations and arm themselves with the knowledge, resources, and connections to sustainably expand their business. Not only can MSMEs learn from Amazon, but they can also connect with Enterprise Singapore and our key partners to glean insights, additional support, and an expanded network to grow globally.”
Sizeable regional growth opportunities for e-commerce exports
According to the report, if current e-commerce adoption trends continue, the annual value of B2C e-commerce exports in Singapore is expected to grow at 5% per year to reach S$1.7 billion in 2026, from S$1.4 billion in 2021. However, if MSMEs accelerate their use of e-commerce to export, this value is projected to increase more than two-fold and reach S$3.5 billion in 2026.
[S$1 = US$0.74]
Singapore MSMEs surveyed anticipate greater sales growth prospects overseas (35%) than at home (13%), with Asia Pacific countries – Malaysia, China, Australia, Indonesia and Thailand – seen as the top five e-commerce export markets in five years’ time, by 2026.
Currently, close to one-quarter (24%) of MSMEs in Singapore conduct B2C e-commerce, of which, more than 90% use it for export.
87% of those surveyed locally agreed that e-commerce is critical for their ability to export, with top motivations including the ability to reach overseas customers, access to sales and marketing tools that are available on e-commerce marketplaces, and support for logistics and payments provided by these marketplaces. For 35% of surveyed MSMEs that export via e-commerce, more than half of their annual e-commerce sales were generated from abroad.
Key challenges faced by MSMEs in e-commerce exports
Amidst the opportunities for growth and global expansion through e-commerce, the key challenges MSMEs face can be narrowed down to three issues – barriers in cost, regulation, and information and capabilities.
High cross-border shipping costs is the most common challenge faced, with 81% citing it as a major barrier. While Singapore offers a robust range of grants to support local businesses on their e-commerce export journeys, about one-third of small enterprises (32%) surveyed admitted that they will find further support valuable.
Additionally, over three-fourths (78%) of MSMEs surveyed cited a lack of clarity in import regulations as a key barrier to selling overseas via e-commerce. Only 19% believe that current advisory support on importing regulations is sufficient.
Lastly, 72% of MSMEs surveyed believe they lack the ability to compete with other sellers globally, and 71% admitted that they are unsure of foreign consumers’ demands and preferences.
Tackling current challenges: Start local, go global with Amazon
Amazon offers various resources for thousands of local sellers to tackle their current barriers and complement existing efforts by industry and government agencies.
Most recently in Singapore, Amazon launched its IP Accelerator programme to make it easier and more cost-effective for small businesses to protect their brands by obtaining trademarks and tackling goods infringement in Amazon’s stores. Enterprise Singapore will also support Singapore businesses defray some of the costs associated with internationalisation, such as Intellectual Property Protection services in North America offered under the Amazon IP Accelerator programme.
Lee said, “Key players in the e-commerce landscape, such as Amazon, have an established ecosystem of solution providers and suite of resources to assist sellers in deepening their digital capabilities for market expansion. We look forward to partnering more Singapore businesses to grow their sales avenues and international footprint through e-commerce.”
To further help sellers manage cross-border shipping costs and logistics, Amazon’s over 225 tools also include the Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) service through which Amazon picks, packs, and ships products, as well as takes care of customer service and returns, across its 20 stores globally.
Other resources include the Amazon Seller App for local sellers with accounts on Amazon.sg to track sales and manage their business via mobile, the Marketplace Appstore, a one-stop shop to discover third-party applications and services for automating tedious business aspects, and the Seller Forum, a resource for first-hand advice from fellow business owners on selling with Amazon.sg. Sellers can also join the Sell on Amazon Singapore Facebook page to connect with the community of sellers on Amazon.sg.
Over the three days at 2021 Amazon Expo, Seller Boot Camp, MSMEs can hear from industry experts and Amazon’s partners who will dive into topics ranging from cross-border e-commerce and payments to customer and sales conversion strategies, to help small businesses scale globally and improve customer reach.
To learn more about the small and medium-sized businesses growing with Amazon.sg, visit: https://amazon.sg/shoplocal.