Singaporeans are not new to online shopping. Local consumers have been using e-commerce sites longer than their neighbors in Southeast Asia. However, during the pandemic, buying goods via the internet became the new normal.
The E-commerce Market in Singapore
In 2020, a survey of 1,000 Singaporeans found that nearly three in four (74 percent) are shopping more frequently online. About one-third of respondents (31 percent) made a purchase via the internet for the first time during the city-state’s nationwide lockdowns.
During the pandemic, online shopping provided convenience and safety. People were asked to stay indoors to prevent the further spread of the virus. Getting their needs delivered to their front door is a way for consumers to keep a physical distance from others.
However, even after the pandemic-related restrictions have been lifted, many consumers plan to continue using e-commerce sites and apps.
Why Buy Groceries Online
The fastest-growing sector of e-commerce in Singapore is online grocery shopping. RedMart, the grocery arm of Alibaba-owned e-commerce platform Lazada, saw unprecedented demand during the first quarter of the past year as COVID-19 spread through the island nation.
By March 2020, the CEO of Lazada Singapore shared to CNBC that consumers were buying more food staples and cleaning supplies online.
The same trends were seen across the world. In the United States, nearly 80 percent of all American consumers shopped for groceries online during the pandemic.
There are several reasons why online shopping for groceries is preferable, and many consumers are starting to realize that. It is, of course, more convenient to buy stuff online. Consumers only have to choose the products digitally. They do not have to go out to shop nor carry heavy bags back home. Their purchases are delivered straight to their front door.
However, there are other perks of buying groceries online. Singaporeans love hunting for bargains, and the task is easier online. There are sales and discounts available to consumers who shop online regularly. There are also credit card promotions online that will save them money.
Nearly three-quarters of all Singaporeans (73 percent) own at least one credit card as of 2020. Many people use their credit cards to shop online or offline.
In addition, online grocery shopping can lead to money savings. People usually shop with a list in hand but, when at a store, it is easy to grab more items than initially intended. Taste tests and the sight of junk foods are tempting, pushing consumers to spend. Online, it is easier to stick to a list. Shoppers can manually look a product up on the search bar and avoid temptations.
What Consumers Want
However, grocery shopping online can still be improved. The past year has already proven the necessity of e-supermarkets. However, they still cannot fully replace the in-store experience when it comes to grocery shopping.
While consumers appreciate the convenience and money-savings, they need online grocery stores to be reliable. When consumers go online, they should be able to purchase all the products on their shopping lists. The inventory should be updated regularly and avoid allowing necessities such as toilet paper, to go out of stock. Otherwise, consumers will see grocery shopping online as inferior compared to going to a store.
E-commerce is also an opportunity for stores to enhance the shopping experience for customers. Make shopping for groceries online easier by serving depersonalization based on their previous and current purchases. So, for example, if they added taco shells, recommend ingredients necessary to make tacos such as ground beef, cheese, and salsa. For return buyers, to make shopping even more convenient., display items that they frequently buy based on previous purchases.
Consumers will also more likely buy products online if they can access information about them. One study revealed that 71 percent of consumers base their purchasing decision if they can see the full list of ingredients. Food, especially, should include necessary details such as allergens, size, and nutritional value. Other products should also have an accurate description to persuade consumers to buy them.
Stores should also consider alternative ways to shop. Aside from online grocery shopping, stores in the U.S. and other places worldwide are open to curbside pickups for consumers who do not want to pay for delivery but can drive to the location.
More grocery stores are considering the transition online. E-commerce has proven to be the more resilient model for crises such as a pandemic. However, it will not be easy. The requirements to set up an online store. While there is demand for online grocery stores even after the pandemic, for people to choose it, it must offer the same experience as going in-store and more.