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Retail exports a growth opportunity for Singapore entrepreneurs: eBay

Zafirah Salim | June 16, 2015
Singapore’s retail exporters sell to an average of 41 international markets – ranking second in Southeast Asia behind Thailand.

eBay recently announced details of the growing trade between Singaporean businesses with global consumers via its online marketplaces, which has been experiencing solid growth on the back of a revitalised US dollar.

According to eBay, Singapore's retail exporters sell to an average of 41 international markets -- ranking second in Southeast Asia behind Thailand.  

One notable trend for Singapore businesses seeking new revenue streams is the speed in which entrepreneurs are able to become a retail exporter, with 22 percent of Singaporean retail exporters on eBay hitting the US$10,000 sales mark in the past year alone.

"The US is the top trade corridor for Singaporean retail exporters and the strengthening US dollar has been a key driver of growth," said Jason Lee, Director, eBay South East Asia. "This demonstrates the huge opportunity for savvy entrepreneurs seeking a global customer base as compared to traditional exports, which has typically been limited to larger businesses."

He added that there has been an increasing number of success stories from Singapore, such as SMEs selling on eBay's US, UK, Australia and other global marketplaces.

"SMEs form the backbone of Singapore's economy, and eBay aims to help local SMEs and entrepreneurs by providing them with a platform where they can not only have a local presence but more importantly, deliver goods and services on an unprecedented global scale. This is very much in line with the government's emphasis on innovation and internationalisation, which is central to economic restructuring," said Lee.

Fostering business growth

In 2007, Gift of Time Pte Ltd, a local premium watch retailer, began selling on eBay. Since then, the retailer's business has expanded significantly, from one employee in Singapore to 16 staff selling watches around the world, including the US, UK, Germany, Australia, Russia, Brazil and China.

"We have grown much faster than any of the Singapore watch retailers here, because of one simple reason -- we decided to go online," said Jeson Wu, Founder, Gift of Time Pte Ltd. "Today, more people are using their computers and mobile devices to browse and shop online, so you need to make sure that your business is where the customers are going. Our presence on a credible platform like eBay also allowed us, a lesser established local merchant, to connect with and gain trust among foreign customers."

Adding on to this, Lee said that since entry barriers for Internet-enabled trade are lower, it is easier for newcomers to enter the market and for commerce enabling platforms such as eBay to have a pro-competitive effect.

"We have been working closely with the Economic Development Board (EDB), SPRING Singapore and the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) to help SMEs in Singapore further expand retail exports," added Lee.


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