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A peek into Singapore's retail transformation in the last decade.

The retail industry has undergone massive transformation in the last 10 years. The use of social media, the flexibility of payment, improved logistics, and the prevalent use of smartphones have contributed to the rapid growth of the online retail scene; now enhanced through the developed marketplaces and fulfillment network.

In Singapore alone, there are at least 6 marketplaces to reach out to customers. Qoo10 Singapore started in 2010, Lazada and Zalora both launched in 2012 and Shopee joined the crowd in 2015. With the high traffic and low set up cost, most sellers have stores in multiple marketplaces in a bid to increase sales channels.

For small and medium enterprises (SMEs), managing multiple marketplaces can be a logistical challenge. With different dashboards and rules, listing and updating all your SKUs will be the first stumbling block amongst other tasks like order processing, arranging fulfilment's, handling enquiries and maintaining reviews.

Sellers can participate in promotional activities within marketplaces to jump-start in getting the first few orders. But a consistent effort to garner decent chat response time and positive reviews will drive confident results in getting orders in the long run. Furthermore, managing search algorithm and purchase data is the key hustle and bustle to increasing sales and reducing obsolete inventory.

Faced with Singapore’s small domestic market and slow economic growth, it is vital for Singapore sellers to venture beyond Singapore marketplaces. And with that, it will take approximately 12 months to reach a healthy monthly GMV. So, how can SMEs get ready for this?

Like how online retail scene developed with the demands of users, the evolution of marketplaces stimulated the birth of enablers. Enablers are third-party companies that manage marketplaces on behalf of sellers; and some of them have their own propriety software. In one single dashboard, sellers can easily align SKUs, publish listings, complete fulfillment and sync inventory across all Singapore and Overseas marketplaces; easing the cumbersome task of syncing bulk data.  This propel SMEs in their growth by reducing overhead cost and logistical woes. Enabler is at heart a partner of the seller to champion the essential task of growing sales.

Moreover, eligible businesses adopting enabler solutions can now receive 70% subsidy from Enterprise Singapore; a government agency supporting Singapore SMEs to develop, upgrade capabilities, innovate, transform, and internationalize. This subsidy bolsters SMEs to expand to overseas marketplaces and participate in marketing activities in the first 12 months, in hope to reach a healthy GMV by the start of second year.

So, the next development in e-retail world is now here, selling to customers without borders. Are you ready for it?

- Article Contributed by Cindy Chiah

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