Starting an Online Ecommerce Business in Singapore

Why Choose to Do Online Ecommerce Business in Singapore?

Ecommerce is the fastest growing platforms in the market today and starting an online sale can boost your overall sales but it is not that simple. Along with setting up the website and generating leads, starting an online ecommerce business in Singapore requires proper planning, investment of time and lots of creativity to build a good ecommerce platform for your customers.


How to Launch an Online Business in Singapore?


Starting an Online Ecommerce Business in SingaporeBefore starting an online ecommerce business in Singapore, you must understand the need and purpose of your business and define your customer according to that. Beginning a business requires proper planning, brainstorming failing which, the business doesn’t sustain for long. To sustain the idea and to make profitable business, one must research about their business needs, customers need, analyse the potential of the business planning on how to begin the business, develop marketing strategies.

Research and analysis before beginning the ecommerce is an essential step but proper planning is important to combat the challenges:

  • Plan about what you intend to sell and understand the key features of the product/services that you want to sell
  • Understand your customers and meet their requirements. Develop proper marketing and sales strategy
  • Understand your brand value or the features that will boost the sales of your product. Identify these important features and shoot your first customers.
  • Identify the cost of start-up, operating cost and the profit generated. Properly plan for the cash flow so that you can overcome the toughest struggle.
  • When you start identifying the challenges you can avoid some problems and it can increase the chances of the business being successful.

Educating Oneself on Online Business

Every business requires regulatory framework which has to be understood deeply. There are some legal laws which might increase the overall cost. There are some tax benefits which can help you in raising funds. Planning your resources before hand can help you in minimizing the risk of the business

Incorporating Your Business

For beginning the operations of the business, you must incorporate business i.e. the business structure that you choose will determine the taxes, the liabilities and capital required for investment.

In Singapore, the most common business structure is a private limited company. It has multiple advantages such as:

  • Limited liability
  • Tax incentive
  • Credible image
  • Status of legal entity
  • Succession

A private limited company can be easily established in Singapore where the business procedure set up can be completed in 24 hours.

Establishing Necessary Infrastructure

To run an online business, you might need a supporting infrastructure with an efficient team to make successful business online. This includes tools for promoting sales, delivering the orders to customers, IT systems, support the functional areas of online business. The online business operations will run smoothly if you have a good supporting infrastructure that matches well with your strategies.

Following is a list of the necessary infrastructure which you will need:

Starting an Online Ecommerce Business in Singapore

Website Design:

  • Register a domain name so that you can get your own unique address. Make sure your domain name should be easy to spell, easy to pronounce and it must relate with your business.
  • The second step requires a hosting service provider who will provide you excellent customer support, good bandwidth and disk space. You can opt for Amazon hosting service.
  • Modern websites require an attractive logo design which relates to your business. Graphic designing can enhance the visual representation of the business through creative ideas through images and text
  • Designing an ecommerce website requires development of product catlog, shopping cart, payment gateways, security checks etc. There are a number of cost-effective solutions which are available and thus selecting a right platform is important
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Starting an Online Ecommerce Business in Singapore

Website Marketing

Right marketing will bring traffic to your website and often we see a lot of ecommerce spending lot of money on online advertising which doesn’t work good in long term. A better approach to website marketing is by developing the right content about the product or service. Good content brings traffic to your website and your brand awareness increases when the visitors starts sharing your content, thus you can develop a network of followers. Right content will land up in search engines like Google, thus boosting your traffic to the website.

Starting an Online Ecommerce Business in Singapore

IT Infrastructure

A good website that ranks good in google is important to make sales in online marketing. It is important to have a proper IT Infrastructure for smooth functioning and customer support. Depending upon the investment that you would want to make, you can choose the best amongst the following options:

  • Host your system on your own by building up one
  • Manage the outsource development system
  • Use hosted software which can be managed externally

Starting an Online Ecommerce Business in Singapore

Fulfilling Services

As a part of ecommerce, it is important that you must deliver the product or services which your customer has ordered. Hence, it is important that you maintain necessary staff, inventory and staff to deliver the advertised product on the ecommerce which your customer has ordered. Online business fails only when you fail to deliver the products ordered by the customers.

Singapore has an option of home office scheme where you can run office from home. Those who are authorized to live in Housing development board are permitted to run business from their home. Make sure that your business doesn’t fall under the forbidden list. A part of the residential premises can be used for official work. To set up office at home, register with the housing and development board or the urban redevelopment authority and meet all their terms and conditions and duly comply with them. To begin office from home, your business must be registered with the Singapore Registrar of companies.

Starting an Online Ecommerce Business in Singapore

Accounts and Book Keeping

Setting an online business doesn’t require plenty of money but you need to invest for start up cost, advertising cost, marketing cost, office rental, staffing, maintaining inventory, and many other operational costs. Hence, proper planning of funds flow is important if you want to run online business in long run

Books of accounts need to managed properly and hence you can effectively maintain books through in-house administrative activity or by outsourcing the work. For managing orders and accounts, entering the data in books is an important step so that the information can be managed by the company.


Top Selling Products in Singapore

Some of the commonly sold items online in Singapore are:

  • Office supplies
  • Books
  • Health products
  • Skin care
  • Computer related items-hardware and software
  • Games and toys
  • Fashion and apparel items
  • Fashion accessories
  • Watches
  • Gems and jewellery


Success Factors for Ecommerce Business

There are some success factors for running a ecommerce business in long run:

  • Niche products: Some products which are not available online do very well on internet. These speciality products are unique and meet the requirements of a particular community
  • Payment methods: An ecommerce must have a flexible payment mode such as PayPal, bank transfer, debit/credit cards. In Singapore, bank transfer is the common type of payment method.
  • Maintaining inventory: Maintain sufficient inventory; do not stock up too much as it can consume lot of your capital while less inventory can delay your delivery.
  • TrustSg mark- This mark is important on Singaporean ecommerce website as it gives trust to customers that the electronic transactions made are secured and private. TrustSg mark means that your ecommerce complies with the code of conduct of Singapore for online business.
  • Quick logistic services: It is important that a successful ecommerce business must have reliable and quick logistic services. For selling products internationally, logistic service is the most crucial factor in determining the success and potential of the ecommerce. Affordable and reliable delivery system can boost your sales and win customers.
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Licensing Requirements

Internet is considered as the broadcast media for regulatory reasons in Singapore and this falls under the category of SBA (Singapore Broadcasting Agency). All the broadcasting services such as Internet service provider and internet content providers needs to be licensed. The owners and other persons need to be licensed and will not need a separate application for the same.


Regulating the Content

All the content and licensees should comply with Internet code of practice as it prohibits broadcasting objectionable content. The Internet code of practice is limited only to the local ICP’s since they cannot control the content coming from outside the Singapore.


Regulating the Online Business

There are some rules and regulations which are applicable to the goods or services that you sell online and following are some of the examples:

  • Providing online gambling services: The provider of online gambling games is regulated by common gaming house act and the betting act. There is no particular legislation law which prohibits gambling services in Singapore.
  • Online provision of financial services or products: These types of services are regulated by existing legislation which also protects or covers the providers of these online financial services.
  • Retailing second hand products: The e-merchants who sell the retail second hand products online are regulated by second hand dealers act. The regulation has been designed to license the second-hand dealers so as to prevent of selling of stolen items. This regulation is regulated by DCP (Deputy Commissioner of Police).
  • Promotional activities: Depending on the type of the promotional activities, there are some provisions which have been laid down for the common gaming act and public entertainment act.
  • Web advertising: There are many products that are sold online such as alcohol, medicines, financial products which should not violate the advertisement regulation laid down by the Singapore Code of Advertisement Practice. There are guidelines which must be complied set down by Singaporean Broadcasting Authority.

Regulatory Framework for Web Contracts

There are web contracts which bounded by the Singaporean Contract Law. The Electronic Transaction Act was introduced in the year 1998 which boosted the trust of the customer by giving web contracts a legal face.


Consumer Protection

Certain provisions are laid down for protecting the consumer which includes:

  • Any kind of confusing statement made by the e-retailer which may alter the decision of the consumer, the e-retailer will be accountable.
  • Another important act is Sales of Good Act where the e-retailer must provide the product or service as described in the description. If the retailer fails to provide satisfactory quality product, the buyer can reject the product and can ask for claim damage.


Protecting and Securing the Digital Data

  • The computer misuse act: This act is meant to protect computer, computer programming and the data that has been stored in the computers
  • Protection of privacy data: When a user buys a product online then many of his personal records get stored. To safeguard his record and personal information, all the web users must have a policy for managing the information.
  • Security for payment: The biggest challenge of an ecommerce business is the security for payment and we all know that there is a lack of security. Hence, it is important to protect such transaction, encryption is required. Encryption technology is used to encode the information before releasing it on internet. Hence, as an online businessman you must protect the data regarding the credit cards.
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Protecting Intellectual Property

There is a dire need to protect the intellectual property for transferring information. Trademark and copyright are of particular importance in this industry.


All the creative work that is transferred to the internet needs to be copyright. Copyrights are protected by the Copyright Act. Copyright is an important part of internet so that your creativity doesn’t get copied, broadcasted. Hence, copyright protects your intellectual property right once the work in the tangible form has been expressed on the internet. Copyrights are licensed to the owners.

Copyright and the Internet

The copyright act was spread to internet to protect the owner’s right in the digital world. The owners have protection against their electronic copies. Activities such as browsing website, caching the website for better access is not entitled to the copyright protection.


A trademark is the symbol which is used to distinguish between the services of the owner with that of the other companies. A trademark gives the companies the right to refrain all the other products and services of a different business from using a similar mark. Trademark can be registered under Singapore Trademark act or for international registration through Madrid Protocol. Trademarks canb be help to avoid infringement of a trademark.

Trademark and the Internet

Since the global market is huge, there are chances that the trademarks will clash, so the businesses must be careful while using meta tags to avoid infringement of the trademark. Meta tags are the keywords which is responsible for ranking your page in Google. Since meta tags are not visible, some companies use the trademarks of famous companies to make the Google index their web page and hence the user will land up in the fraudulent page instead of genuine site. Under such circumstances, the owner of the original trade mark can take legal action against the fraudulent webpages as per Singaporean Laws.

It is important while doing an online business to be careful about the domain names. There are web squatters who reserve the domain names for the trademarks and these are later to sold to the squatters and also to their competition. Hence, it is important to register the trade marks at the earliest and also so that you don’t infringe others trademarks.


Laws Governing the Issues in Ecommerce

Singapore court has the right to solve disputes of ecommerce if:

  • Claim served to the defendant in Singapore
  • Permitting the service to the defendant outside Singapore by the court

The legal laws are applicable to solve the dispute. There isn’t any specific rule in cases of dispute that country’s law will be applicable over the claim’s jurisdiction. If the contract of

ecommerce doesn’t specify the country’s jurisdiction then Singapore Court can resolve the dispute. The Singaporean court and the court will pass the judgement based on the law connected closely to the contract.

Singapore is a central hub for trading located in the South east of Asia. The online opportunities in Singapore are plenty as the country has got very high frequency access to internet along with high speed and deepest level of internet penetration.

Setting up an e-commerce in Singapore can be a terrific business here. However, setting up an online business requires time, skills, efforts, investment and political connects to run it successfully. An online ecommerce business requires proper planning to make it as a successful business.

If you are interested to start an online ecommerce business in Singapore, read more from local corporate service provider in Singapore who can assist you along the way.