Singapore consumers digitally savvy; demand secure, affordable, high-quality experiences

  • Majority perceives Singapore’s digital advancement and e-Government favourably
  • Top challenges include data privacy, cyber security, affordability and shift to “mobile first” mentality


Singapore consumers digitally savvy; demand secure, affordable, high-quality experiences


SINGAPORE is seen as a more digitally advanced nation relative to other leading developed countries, according to the majority (52%) of the 1,000 digitally active respondents in Singapore that were surveyed for the EY report Savvy Singapore: Decoding a digital nation.

These sentiments reflect the nation’s current top ranking on the World Economic Forum’s Network Readiness Index (NRI).

The majority (59%) also agree that the government is effectively leveraging technology to improve public services. Yet, they are also looking to the government to regulate emerging digital social issues.

Concerns remain around privacy, security and affordability

Privacy is one of the dominant concerns: a vast 81% of the respondents worry about how organisations collect, store and use data about them, and 75% want the government to impress greater controls and transparency.

While Singaporeans are largely aligned on the government’s role in regulating organisations, personal privacy is a more polarising issue. Forty-three percent of the respondents call for the government to take a more active role in monitoring online activity but 20% disagree.

For some, affordability is an issue. Internet speed and access was judged fairly well by the majority (55%) but affordability for mobile data and fixed internet access was considered unreasonable by 44% and 34% of the respondents respectively. Further, 23% think they already spend too much on digital.

According to EY Asean advisory digital leader Jonathan Rees, “The Singapore government has been proactively engaging digital technology to better serve the public. While the population holds a positive view of how they are being ‘governed’ in a digital age, there are still challenges to address and high expectations to be met around affordability, privacy, information usage, transaction security and digital content.

“With high levels of connectivity and concentration of data centres, Singapore must also be extra vigilant of the cyber risk environment. The outlook for Singapore as a Smart Nation is positive, but there is no room for complacency given how digitally well-informed and demanding the population is.”


Singapore consumers digitally savvy; demand secure, affordable, high-quality experiences


Growth opportunities for e-commerce and retail

The survey also shows that Singapore has a highly device-centric population. The majority (78%) of respondents check their device upon waking up, to the point where 26% of respondents’ mobile phone usage exceeds five hours daily. They use their phones or tablets everywhere – especially in public places (68%), and for everything – from social networking (98%) to online research (81%) on a daily basis.

They also express an appetite for and acceptance of new digital experiences, including using modern payment methods such as mobile phone tap payments (29%), choosing music streaming over traditional music channels (86% versus 68%), and an interest to purchase from more online retailers (55%).

Around half of the respondents expect a high-quality digital experience as an entry to purchase (54%) and judge a company by their online presence (43%). With 83% of the respondents saying they discover new products and services through online research and almost half (49%) conducting digital research while in store, retailers need to be discoverable through search engine optimisation. An overwhelming 88% of the respondents expect websites to be mobile-optimised for viewing and many expect to enjoy the same experience both online and offline.

“The playing field for retailers is altered today. Digital experiences are not just about online shopping and e-commerce. For many, the physical shopping journey is becoming a more digitally integrated one. For Singapore retailers, there is a significant opportunity in merging the brick-and-mortar store with digital experiences for a seamless, omni-channel service delivery.”

“In response to the relentless pace of digital advances, governments and enterprises must meet the challenges of leading smart transformations to co-create better digital experiences. The service conundrum and opportunity confronting them lie in ensuring consumer privacy and transaction security while delivering high-quality personalised experiences. What is certain is going digital is no longer a ‘wait-and-see’ but a ‘catch-and-act-now’ imperative. Organisations must be ready to reset their customer strategies if they want to successfully capitalise on the growth potential of the digital economy,” concluded Rees. 

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