Is Asia your next big e-commerce market?

E-commerce has become an important revenue stream for many small businesses and whilst setting up for a local market is relatively simple, delivering a global service requires a business savvy operator.

With Asia becoming one of Australia’s key export regions, Aussie businesses are discovering they need to be abreast of the region’s trends and traditions if they want to get ahead of the game.

Candice Ong from Singapore-based start-up ShopBack knows just what it takes to operate a successful e-commerce site in Asia.

One of the most popular e-commerce sites in the region, ShopBack utilises a cash back reward program. It allows online shoppers to take a portion of their cash back when they buy products through the service.

As Chief Commercial Officer, Ong plays a critical role within the core business management team. Apart from leading country teams across the region, she also helms regional marketing to accelerate ShopBack’s growing presence.

Ong told Kochie’s Business Builders (KBB) any Aussie business planning on getting into the Asian market would do well by offering a unique service or product.

“In the competitive online e-commerce space, one would need to stand out for product differentiation, customer experience or huge value WRT price competitiveness,” Ong said.

“In recent times, Australian e-commerce fashion brands seem to be getting some traction in Singapore in having an online presence via local offline or online stores,” she says, citing Lorna Jane, Sass and Bide, Finders Keepers as leading brands in the area.

Ong also stressed the importance of developing a media strategy before rolling out into the region.

“One should also be mindful of how to achieve distribution or awareness for brands or products in Asia as media consumption methods might be different,” she said.

Historically Australia and Singapore have had close economic ties and in May 2016 the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull committed to the Australia-Singapore Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

Under this, our governments are committed to i) increasing trade between the two countries; ii) strengthening R&D collaborations; iii) and forging partnerships between Singaporean & Australian companies.

It is hoped the partnership will deliver strong pro-business collaborations between Australia and Singapore.

Ong said there are a number key benefits to the partnership as it updates the existing Australia-Singapore Free Trade Agreement to reduce red tape and increase lengths of stay for business people (including investors & executives).

The change will provide greater transparency to support business people seeking to move between the two markets

“Anecdotally, according to the World Bank ‘Ease of Doing Business Report’ 2017, Singapore was ranked the second-best place in the world to do business.

“This takes into account the speed of business registration (can be as fast as 15 minutes), the transparency in filing for taxes, the upholding of intellectual property rights, and providing investor protection.

So fast are the processes, it can take only 2.5 days to start up a business in Singapore compared to the global average of 21 days.

Ong says the speedy processes are also backed up with support services for new business operators, particularly those in the import export arena.

“I believe our customs processes are also very transparent, and our Customs department works closely with the Inland Revenue Authority. They provide numerous resources online to help businesses:”

For more information, government agencies, especially Economic Development Board of Singapore (EDB) provide businesses with more advice on how to set up in Singapore:

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Cec is the managing editor of KBB. She is a multimedia professional with over fifteen years experience as an editor on titles as diverse as SX, CULT, Better Pictures, Total Rock, MTV, fasterlouder, mynikonlife and Fantastic Living. She has spent the past four years working as a news journalist covering all the issues that matter in the political, health and LGBTIQ arena. She is the Head of Content at Pinstripe Media and a recent convert to the world of small business.


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