Lower prices bring more Singaporean shoppers online

  • Singaporeans use five different money-saving strategies
  • By 2025, it is estimated that ecommerce will make up 6.7% of all Singapore retail sales
Lower prices bring more Singaporean shoppers online


ONLINE shopping is thought to be the major culprit behind the slowdown of mall traffic in Singapore.

While the July 2016 Retail Sales Index show a drop of up to 9.6% in retail sales of watches, jewellery, and apparel, research from Paypal shows that online spend by Singaporean consumers is growing at an annual rate of 16% between 2014 and 2017.

Lower overall costs, free shipping, and safe payment methods continue to bring Singaporeans online. By 2025, it is estimated that Singapore’s ecommerce market will make up 6.7% of all retail sales.

If better prices make online shopping more attractive, how do Singaporean shoppers maximise their savings before clicking the “buy now” button? Personal finance comparison site SingSaver.com.sg and online shopping rewards portal ShopBack surveyed their users to find out.

Together, they polled 1,979 Singaporeans aged 21 to 60 about their online shopping habits and how they save money at digital stores.

While only 37% agreed that online retail deals are better than offline ones, shoppers use a combination of strategies to stretch their savings: comparison shopping, anticipating flash sales or deals, trying items in-store, searching for reviews, and using credit cards that reward them for their purchases.

Online shoppers spend S$155 a month on fashion, health & beauty, electronics
On average, shoppers spend S$155 a month, or S$1,860 a year, on retail purchases and travel bookings online. Those with monthly salaries between S$4,000 and S$5,000 spend the most at S$194 a month, which is 20% more than those earning S$5,000 – S$6,000.

Fashion is a number one spend category for shoppers with a monthly income under S$6,000. Electronics is the next most popular category for those earning S$3,000 – S$5,000 a month, and Health & Beauty for those earning less than S$3,000 a month.

Only shoppers earning S$4,000 – S$5,000 a month count travel as part of their top three online expenditures. Meanwhile, respondents who earn over S$6,000 a month spend more on online groceries than fashion purchases and electronics.

In general, Singaporeans are influenced to make a purchase online when prices are lower compared to offline stores (72.21%), when deals and promotions are offered (71.39%), when clear product information is provided (63.29%), and when shipping is fast and affordable (59%).

Online shoppers have a bigger budget for shopping holidays
Singles’ Day, the Chinese shopping holiday used by Alibaba to promote sales, is gaining traction in Singapore. Last year saw a 28% increase in the number of transactions among Visa cardholders during Singles’ Day.

While 53% of surveyed shoppers didn’t know what Singles’ Day is or weren’t planning to shop during this time, those who will join the shopping frenzy have a bigger budget for it. Eighty percent who are shopping on Singles’ Day have budgeted S$51 - S$500 on fashion (69%), health and beauty (45%), and electronics (44%).

Of those shopping during Singles’ Day, 49% have a monthly income of S$4,000 or less while 10% earn S$6,000 or more. This suggests that shoppers are likely buying a large quantity of low-value items for gifts over the Christmas holidays.

Online shoppers compare prices to find the best deal
Before clicking the checkout button, online shoppers engage in a couple of behaviours to ensure they get the best possible deal.

Ninety-two percent of online shoppers compare prices across different websites before making a purchase, while shoppers even compare prices and quality in person. Sixty percent who have tried on items in stores buy them online if they can find it at a cheaper price.

Comparison shopping is a must for travel as well, with 95% of respondents using aggregators to compare flight and hotel prices before making a booking. Even after finding a lower rates somewhere else, 86% are willing to delay their booking to wait for flash sales, discounts, or cashback deals.

However, shoppers draw the line at tolerating discomfort during a plane ride. Only 41% are somewhat willing to sacrifice comfort and convenience for a cheaper flight.

Online shoppers pay with credit cards to maximise savings and rewards
Several payment methods are available to online shoppers in Singapore. However, 79% of those surveyed prefer to use credit cards, followed by Paypal at 12% and eNETS at 3.8%. Cash-based payments like cash on delivery (2.30%) and direct bank transfers (2.04%) were found to be the least popular methods.

Among credit card users, 67% prefer Visa, while 27 % use Mastercard and 6% use American Express. The most widely-used credit cards were from DBS (26%), OCBC (22%), Citibank (17%), and UOB (15%).

Besides being convenient, shoppers use credit cards because of the savings or rewards they can earn from their purchase. Eighty-three percent of those surveyed say they pay with a credit card that gives them discounts or points for online purchases.

For flights and hotels, only 72% of respondents use a card that gives rewards for online travel bookings, likely because most air miles credit cards have high minimum income requirements. However, all major card issuers generally have discounts for hotel booking sites like Agoda and hotels.com.

This survey was a collaborative effort between SingSaver.com.sg and ShopBack.

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