How to Choose the Right Ecommerce Platform to Sell Your Products in Singapore
Choosing the right e-commerce platform to sell your products in Singapore can be a difficult decision. There are many options, and each one has different pros and cons.
This article will help you make this decision by highlighting some of the key points that should be thought about before choosing an ecommerce platform.
1. What is an E-commerce platform?
There are many websites out there that can be used to sell online in Singapore. The best way for us to narrow down the list is if we start with something more specific about what counts as an ecommerce platform.
We will define an ecommerce platform as a software or website that is designed to facilitate selling online.
Most ecommerce platforms handle the product listings for your store. Some platforms also help you accept payments and manage customer orders.
Ecommerce websites help businesses reach more potential customers across borders than ever before possible with traditional brick-and-mortar shops.
2. The 5 popular types of ecommerce platforms in Singapore
These are the 5 most common platforms to sell in Singapore
- open source ecommerce platforms
- website builders with ecommerce function
- SaaS ecommerce platforms
- commission-based marketplace platforms
- free online marketplace platforms
Related read: 12 Best E-commerce Website Designs in Singapore 2021
Open source ecommerce platforms like Woocommerce or Prestashop
What is an open source ecommerce platform?
An open source ecommerce software is an ecommerce platform that you can download, install and configure on your own. You will have to install it on a server that you own.
Open Source Ecommerce platforms include Woocommerce for WordPress, or Prestashop. They are free to use without any monthly fees but they will need technical knowledge in order to set up the system as well as maintain it.
Most open-source ecommerce platforms offer lots of themes and plugins. This makes it easier for non-designers to make their websites look nice, and non-developers to add functionality to their website.
However there is no premium support for these open source platforms, so you’ll need to turn to experts to help you build and manage more complicated ecommerce websites.
Thankfully, there are many quality e-commerce developers in Singapore who are familiar with Woocommerce that you can hire to build your ecommerce website.
SaaS ecommerce platforms like Shopify or Bigcommerce
Saas stands for Software as a Service, and it means that you don’t have to install any software on your own website. You pay a monthly fee to use their platform to sell your products.
This is perfect for people who are not technical experts or developers because this ecommerce platform will take care of all the complicated backend stuff.
Unlike open source, with SaaS, there is a monthly subscription fee attached to using the platform. This fee includes the use of the service, hosting, technical support, and others.
These SaaS ecommerce platforms also charge a fee for accepting payments and it is usually a percentage of the sale.
Keep in mind you will still have the following costs to consider.
- Agency fees, if used: Much like with an open source platform, you may choose to have an agency do the design and development for you.
- Apps or extensions: To get all of the features you need, you will likely need to extend the platform with apps or extensions. These will usually add a monthly fee on top of the platform fees.
Website builders with ecommerce function addons like Wix or Squarespace
A website builder is a platform that allows you to quickly and easily create your own website with little to no coding needed. A lot of these are also known as ‘drag and drop’ builders, because of how easy it is to design a website yourself.
In recent years, popular website builders like Wix or Squarespace have added ecommerce functionality. You can now use these website builders to sell products online.
These platforms can be very cost effective, easy to set up for novice sellers and offer a variety of templates that are ready-to-go out of the box. There’s also less maintenance involved in these website builders.
The major downside of website builders are the limited capabilities for customization. They may not allow you to add custom features or monetize your site without third party add-ons. These website builders are also known for being less SEO friendly than the former 2 platforms.
These website builders are more focused on being easy to design by yourself. They are not the most robust ecommerce platforms and they are not designed for professional sellers with a huge inventory of products.
Commission-based online marketplace like Shopee or Lazada
What do we mean by commission-based marketplace platforms?
These are websites that allow you to sell your products but charge a commission for each sale. In such platforms, you create a ‘store front’ rather than a whole website.
This is the most popular type of ecommerce platform in Singapore because it’s free to sign up and there are no monthly charges, making them simple for new users.
You’ll definitely have heard of these online marketplaces such as Lazada, Shopee, Qoo10, and Amazon.
- Free to sign up and have products listed.
- Easy to upload product photos and set up a storefront
- Some level of technical support
What are the downsides of selling through these online marketplaces?
- These platforms are not seller-focused. Their priority is serving the customers.
- You can’t easily sell to users outside Singapore
- technical and design limitations.
- you don’t build your brand easily
- competitor products are advertised right on your page all the time
Free online marketplaces like Carousell or Facebook Marketplace
In last place, you have free online marketplace platforms like Carousell and Facebook.
If you want to start selling quickly on a website that is completely free, this is your option.
Free marketplaces like Carousell and Facebook Marketplace let you list your products on the platform without any fees. Almost anyone is free to create an account and start listing products for sale.
- no set up fees, no monthly fees, can sell almost any products, even used items
- no transaction fees if you choose to use your own payment methods like cash or funds transfer
Downsides of selling on free marketplace like Facebook marketplace:
- poor ecommerce customer experience
- no control over who sees your posts, and no way to target the right customers
- competition can be intense because anyone is able to list products for sale on the platform
- quality control can be very bad, and your high quality products could be listed alongside everyday people selling used goods, various questionable competitors and even fake goods.
- logistics can also be a nightmare, as there isn’t an in-built system to track orders or stock.
How to choose the right ecommerce platform for your business
Here’s a hard truth. There is no easy way to decide which is best for you without knowing anything about your business and your goals. There are thousands of scenarios that can lead you to making a choice.
However, here are some questions you can ask yourself, and then make an informed choice by comparing the pros and cons of the different platforms.
- What type of products or services that you want to sell?
- Where do you think your target customers are hang out out online?
- Is your product a physical item? Or is it a digital product like an ebook?
- Do you want an ecommerce website that is just an online catalog? I.e. without a checkout function.
- Do you need to provide a lot of customer service?
- How much time am you willing to spend trying to learn how to get the most of the platform?
- What are the price range of your products?
- Do you have a developer to help you with setting up the website?
- Do you have a developer to help with maintenance?
- How much technical support do you need?
- Is scalability of your business important to you?
- What kinds of marketing channels do you plan to use to drive traffic?
Which eCommerce platform is best for small businesses in Singapore?
For small businesses in Singapore who prefer to start selling quickly, and prefer to design the website themselves, choosing a SaaS ecommerce platform or a website builder would be recommended.
For small businesses who want to scale, control their marketing and blogging, and want more customization options, choose open source platforms like Woocommerce.
What is the cheapest eCommerce platform?
You can’t really beat free ecommerce marketplace when it comes to being cheap. Since these are also free ecommerce websites, if you really need to start selling online without any budget, you can use online marketplaces like Carousell and Facebook Marketplace.
How do you decide which ecommerce platform is most suitable for your business?
Choosing the right ecommerce platform for your business can be a daunting decision. You need to think about what products you intend to sell, who your target audience are, how much control you want in marketing, and whether or not you plan on scaling up quickly.
If those thoughts have overwhelmed you and don’t know where to start then we’re here to help.
Talk to our digital strategists today so that they can guide you through finding the right solution with ease.