How to do online business in Singapore and Australasia

How to do online business in Australasia and Singapore: e-commerce best practices

Discover how your e-commerce business can be optimised for success in the Australian and Singaporean markets.

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If you’re wondering how to do online business effectively in Australia, New Zealand or Singapore, you’ll need to learn the key differences between them and other Western e-commerce markets. We’ll cover some of our e-commerce tips for your small business when expanding into the Australasian-Singaporean business sphere.

How to do online business in the Australasian-Singaporean market

Across the Australasian-Singaporean markets, e-commerce is a diverse space. Western brands like Amazon lag behind other international and more localised platforms, managing around 35% of web traffic in Australia (their largest market) according to 2021 SEMRush data.

When considering which new e-commerce platform(s) could be relevant for your business, the two key factors you should consider are popularity and functionality. Some e-commerce platforms are better suited to certain product categories and regions than others, depending on the market you’re targeting.

Australia and New Zealand

eBay is the largest e-commerce platform for Australian and New Zealand consumers, receiving over 75.5 million visitors each month. Amazon ranks second, receiving roughly half of the number of visitors.

Each e-commerce platform features an extensive range of product categories, so your small business can create product listings just as easily as it does for the UK market. eBay’s PayPal integration and auction functionality could be especially relevant to you if your business specialises in second-hand goods or collectables. However, Amazon continues to grow their Prime membership, your business could stand to benefit from increased demand as more consumers visit the platform over eBay.

Singapore

Singaporean consumers primarily use Shopee and Lazada. Both platforms offer standard seller accounts or specialised accounts for authorised brand distributors, meaning you can provide brand goods to new markets easily.

Each platform will feel familiar to UK-based entrepreneurs as they host product categories similar to eBay and Amazon. While this will help your initial transition easier, each platform has unique marketing features (discussed further below) catering to Singaporean consumers that shouldn’t go unused.

In terms of popularity, Shopee is the larger of the two platforms and offers buyers cashback on their purchases. As a seller, this unique marketing feature can help build strong customer relationships as you expand. However, Lazada integrates with Alibaba’s payment technology (including WorldFirst) which means you can seamlessly run your business using local currencies and help customers better understand the value of your business.

Can I be on more than one e-commerce platform?

Much like running an e-commerce business in the UK, there’s currently nothing to stop entrepreneurs from expanding their businesses and selling on multiple e-commerce platforms at once.

As a consequence, you may wish to set up accounts on other popular e-commerce platforms across the Australasian-Singaporean market like Singaporean Amazon, New Zealand-based Trade Me or others.

E-commerce tips for small businesses

Optimising your listings for each platform

Regardless of the e-commerce platform(s) your business chooses, you’ll need to learn how to optimise your listings so your goods appear in search results prominently.

While each platform has slightly different specifications and best practices, understanding the unique needs of each platform can ensure your goods appear in front of your target market every time. Consult the support pages on each platform for more information, like eBay’s Seller Hub or Lazada’s Seller Centre.

On-platform promotion tools

As a current UK-based seller, you’re probably already familiar with the promotion tools on eBay and Amazon. The tools operate in a similar way for the websites in Australia and New Zealand.

However, Singaporean consumers have a slightly different consumer culture which is why Shopee and Lazada also offer live features in addition to the similar promotion tools of other e-commerce sites. Here, sellers often host live streams to showcase product information and offers, much like televised UK shopping channels.

Does language matter in international e-commerce?

Like Australia and New Zealand, Singapore is a majority English speaking country. This means that international sellers can forgo translating terms and offers into local languages.

However, owing to each country’s geography, the Australasian-Singaporean market has considerable migrant populations. In Singapore, 40% of the population are non-native. Therefore, your small businesses may benefit from improved sales by providing product descriptions or customer service in Malay or Mandarin.

How to stay tax-compliant with the local authorities

Singapore, Australia and New Zealand each have a VAT-equivalent called a Goods and Sales Tax (GST) which is currently set to 7%, 10% and 15%, respectively. As a new business, you’ll need to be wary of the specific thresholds for when your business will be required to apply GST in each locality and the relevant exemptions.

Similarly, differences in trade deals with each of the previously mentioned nations will also affect your tax compliance, including things like customs fees. For more information about the trade requirements for the specific region your business is expanding into, use the following links for Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.

How to facilitate local currency payments and save money at the same time

WorldFirst enables small businesses to expand and operate nearly anywhere in the world. With same-day payment options available, WorldFirst can help manage all your foreign transfer needs and help you budget with clarity by providing competitive FX fees.

So whether you need to pay suppliers in China or accept dollars from Australia, New Zealand or Singapore, WorldFirst is open to the needs of your business.

To find out more about WorldFirst products and opening an account to suit your needs, chat with us online or call 0207 801 1065 today.

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Niki Sehmbi
Senior Content Specialist | 8 years' experience in content marketing within the tech and finance space.
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