Online marketplaces boost Singapore retailers sales

More Singapore retailers are using online marketplaces to ramp up their e-commerce activities.

Such sites as Amazon, Lazada, Qoo10 and Tmall offer them a low-cost way to reach new customers and expand globally, reports The Straits Times.

An example is 9 Degrees Freedom, which makes tennis performance sensor Qlipp. It lists its products on Amazon and with online electronics retailer Newegg so it can reach customers in the US.

“We knew from the start that most of our market is not in Singapore,” says CEO Dr Donny Soh, who developed the technology for Qlipp while he was a scientist at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research.

A gadget that can be attached to the strings of a tennis racquet, Qlipp records data such as stroke type, swing speed and ball spin. The company is focussing on the US, Canadian and European markets, and more than 80 per cent of its sales come from outside Singapore.

In Canada and Europe, Qlipp is sold in bricks-and-mortar stores by retailers and distributors. The company reported $300,000 in revenue last year – double that of 2015 – and hopes to double that again this year on the back of distribution opportunities in Europe.

Motherswork, a one-stop shop for mothers and children, is another Singapore company seeking growth through online marketplaces.

CEO Sharon Wong, who started the business nearly 20 years ago when she first became a mother, says the company did not rush into e-commerce “because people tend to expect a discount for products they buy online”.

“We registered our own website, but more for PR and marketing; it wasn’t our core business. We continued to grow our stores and opened in China in 2012,” she says.

Motherswork has four stores in Singapore and eight in China, but the retail slowdown last year prompted Wong to scale back on new stores. The company re-launched its website to add an online store, and also listed products on marketplaces including Lazada, RedMart and China’s Tmall Global.

Retailers need to see their online presence as more than just a way to sell products, says group director Lee Yee Fung of the lifestyle business group at International Enterprise (IE) Singapore.

“It is also a channel for brand discovery, consumer interaction, analytics and feedback. With this, retailers can then access more detailed analytics of consumer behaviour.

“This knowledge can enable retailers to create the right experience for consumers by balancing physical and online strategies.”

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