Singapore is one of the fastest-growing economies in terms of ecommerce. Many changes in 2021 have impacted the ecommerce and digital marketing industry, paving the way for business owners to shift from physical to online retailing.
Digital transformation has become more widespread than ever for the past two years, and it is not surprising. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the way enterprises conduct operations. As a result, many businesses have decided to transform digitally through digital channels such as ecommerce and digital strategies, including SEO, to increase their profits.
Online sales have skyrocketed. Many consumers prefer to buy their products online since it is safer and more convenient. According to Straits Times, 74% of consumers have purchased more since the Covid-19 began. This shift in customer behaviour is an opportunity for small businesses to grow.
If you want to ensure your business and income will not be adversely affected by the changes in regulations, perhaps ecommerce is the ideal solution for that. Here is why ecommerce is beneficial for small businesses.
The Importance of Ecommerce For Small Businesses
Out of all the different enterprises and companies, small businesses have suffered the most because of the pandemic. Even though the current economy is already improving, you cannot deny the negative impact that the Covid-19 outbreak has left on small businesses.
Small businesses can rely on ecommerce and SEO strategies in Singapore to sustain their needs and increase profits. By setting up an online business, you can:
Moreover, owning a physical storefront is expensive. Aside from paying for your establishment, you also have to consider your employees’ salaries and benefits, electricity bills, inventory, and space. With ecommerce, there is no need to worry about all of that. If you decide to transform your small business digitally to ecommerce, you can reduce your operational costs. There is also less risk involved by starting a business online, so it is a good way for new entrants to test the market.
ALSO READ: 16 Top Ecommerce Marketing Trends In Singapore for 2022
When it comes to running an online business, you have two choices: selling on an online marketplace or an ecommerce platform Both of these choices are slightly different from each other and offer unique pros and cons.
Find out the advantages and disadvantages of using an ecommerce platform and online marketplace to know which one is best for your small business.
What Is An Ecommerce Platform?
An ecommerce platform in Singapore is a solution that provides online retailers with various tools and options for managing their business. Because of its wide range of features, using an ecommerce platform is a highly recommended choice for running an online business. Small business owners can either use it as an extended part of their physical storefront or conduct their entire operations online.
Why is it a good idea to utilise an ecommerce platform for your small business?
Managing an online business may be difficult if you do not use the correct ecommerce platform. If this is the situation for your online store, find an ecommerce platform with simple web design and features that will make managing your business operations easier.
LEARN MORE: 14 Essential Web Design Features In Your Ecommerce Website
You can choose from a variety of ecommerce platforms to build your ecommerce website, all of which offer unique features. Here are some of the most popular ecommerce platforms that you can use to manage your online business and increase your search engine rankings with ecommerce SEO.
Examples Of Ecommerce Platforms
If you are already using WordPress, perhaps you might want to choose WooCommerce as your ecommerce platform. WooCommerce started as a plugin for WordPress in 2011. It quickly became a fan-favourite platform for online retailers due to its selection of customisation options.
The best part is that WooCommerce is free to use.aYou can pick any WordPress theme to display an unlimited number of products and items on your website. You can also optimise your ecommerce website to rank higher on search results and improve your web visibility.
Furthermore, WooCommerce boasts hundreds of extensions and thousands of plugins. These give you the freedom to personalise your website and represent your brand image in the most suitable way possible.
If you are interested in using WooCommerce as your ecommerce platform, here are its pros and cons:
Founded in 2006, Shopify is now one of the world’s leading ecommerce platforms. Currently, it has more than 3.88 million live websites running on Shopify, which is a testament to the brand’s reputation when it comes to ecommerce.
Shopify is a standalone ecommerce platform with a wide range of features including social media integrations, reporting, analytics, and ecommerce SEO. Its simplicity of usage makes Shopify a great starting point for beginners who wish to dive into ecommerce. Shopify also offers countless beautiful themes that let you customise your website in any way you want.
READ MORE: A Guide To Using Shopify In Singapore
In summary, the pros and cons of using Shopify as your ecommerce platform are:
BigCommerce provides online retailers with efficient software solutions, including store creation, SEO, and cybersecurity. You can set up an online store and sell your products without worrying about web hosting since BigCommerce runs its servers.
Also, BigCommerce is a software as a service (SaaS) platform, meaning you cannot own the software. Instead, you must pay a monthly subscription to use BigCommerce. Listed below are the prices of the plans the ecommerce platform is offering.
Nonetheless, BigCommerce is perfect for both beginners and tech-savvy experts. You can contact their customer support if you need help building your online store.
LEARN MORE: SaaS eCommerce Platforms: Are They Suitable For Your Online Business?
Here are the pros and cons of BigCommerce:
Squarespace was founded in 2003 at the University of Maryland, and since then, the company has grown to more than a thousand professionals. This award-winning company offers some of the best website building and blogging tools on the market. With their help, you can also build a mobile-friendly online store.
Choosing Squarespace for your online store is a wise choice. For approximately S$55 a month, you can build an advanced online store, complete with the best ecommerce features. Other than that, Squarespace is easy to use.
Building a unique online presence is challenging, especially if you lack the necessary tools. The good news is that WiX has almost everything you need to create your very own online store in any way you want. From blogging and online bookings to designer-made templates and custom domains, you can get the complete package by using WiX for ecommerce.
The best part is Wix is SEO-friendly. You can edit your pages’ title tags and meta descriptions to ensure customers discover your products on search results easily. WiX even offers a dashboard that lets you manage your Google My Business (GMB) profile so you can improve your online presence locally.
Here are the pros and cons of this ecommerce platform:
The Pros And Cons Of Ecommerce Platforms
Pro #1: You Have Full Control Over Your Ecommerce Website
Everything is under your control. You can customise and optimise your ecommerce website for SEO in Singapore in any way that is best for your business.
Having a variety of options is essential for running a thriving ecommerce business. For example, one of the many objectives of customising your online store is to improve user experience, which will in turn lead to an increase in conversion rate and website dwell time, as well as reduction in bounce rate.
Furthermore, with total control over your ecommerce website, you can build an online store that is truly unique and different compared to other ecommerce websites. You can focus on building your brand identity to establish your credibility.
Pro #2: There Is No Competition On The Same Platform
Your ecommerce platform is only yours to use. That means no one else can sell on your website. Use this to your advantage by showcasing your best products without competing against other sellers on your online store. Focus on increasing your search engine rankings through SEO so potential customers can visit your website.
Pro #3: Use Built-In Payment Systems
Most ecommerce platforms have built-in payment systems that allow you to manage your customers’ transactions. Depending on your platform of choice, you can select from various payment options, such as:
- Credit/Debit card payment
- Bank transfer
Besides the fact that everyone has a preferred payment method, each country has different forms of payment. Consider using an ecommerce platform that offers a wide range of built-in payment systems. Doing so opens up the opportunities for more transactions without the barrier of payment options.
Pro #4: Benefit From A Variety Of Features
Ecommerce platforms offer different ways to let you manage your online store. Sign up or subscribe to your preferred ecommerce platform, and you can benefit from a plethora of options that will help you attract customers, display your products, and improve your SEO rankings.
When it comes to variety, each ecommerce platform is unique. For example, Shopify has 24/7 customer services, while Wix boasts free templates. On the other hand, WordPress has thousands of plugins, while BigCommerce has application integration.
Pro #5: Ecommerce Platforms Are SEO-Friendly
Most ecommerce platforms are SEO-friendly, specifically Shopify, WooCommerce, and BigCommerce. Whether you choose WooCommerce or Shopify, try using the built-in SEO features to improve your ecommerce website’s online presence. By optimising your ecommerce website for SEO, more people can find what they are looking for on your online store through search engines like Google.
Con #1: It Can Be Expensive
Gaining access to an ecommerce platform can sometimes be expensive, especially if you require advanced features. Even though some ecommerce platforms are free, most of their high-tier versions are unavailable unless you pay for an upgrade.
Con #2: Using An Ecommerce Platform Can Be Difficult
Ecommerce platforms like Shopify are beginner-friendly, but some of the advanced features may require some time to master, others may even require technical coding skills that require a professional’s help.
Con #3: Stand Out Among A Sea Of Ecommerce Stores
Creating an online store is just the beginning. The hard part is utilising digital marketing strategies in Singapore to attract customers and grow your business. You must drive traffic to your ecommerce website so more people can discover your products whenever they use Google and social media.
Con #4: SEO Is Also Challenging
The goal of SEO services is to create quality content, build backlinks, and optimise your website to increase your rankings on search engines. Achieving the said goal can be challenging. You have to consider your online reputation, user experience, mobile responsiveness, and many other factors when optimising your website for SEO.
Good thing that ecommerce platforms like Shopify usually have built-in SEO features that will help you. Also, you can outsource your SEO services in Singapore if you need assistance. A digital agency of choice can assist you in acquiring traffic to your ecommerce website so customers could find your products on search results.
What Is An Online Marketplace?
An online marketplace is where various retailers can set up their businesses and sell their products on the same platform. It is provided by a marketplace operator that processes the transactions between consumers and wholesalers or retailers.
Unlike ecommerce platforms, online marketplaces consist of various sellers, ranging from wholesalers and retailers to privately owned businesses. Also, using a marketplace to sell your products is much easier than building an ecommerce website.
If creating an online store proves to be troublesome, then try establishing your business in a marketplace instead. Here are some examples of marketplaces where you can sell your products.
Examples Of Online Marketplaces
Lazada is one of Southeast Asia’s most popular online marketplaces. Here, you can buy a wide selection of products, from fashion and electronics to healthcare and kitchenware. If you’re looking for something online, Lazada probably has it.
As an online marketplace, Lazada is a highly recommended place to establish your business. Lazada also has more than 10 million monthly web visits. You can quickly connect with millions of potential customers simply through ecommerce SEO and by using Lazada as your preferred marketplace.
Shopee first launched in Singapore in 2015 before expanding to other countries, such as Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Columbia, Brazil, Mexico, and the Philippines.
Shopee built its reputation as a leading online marketplace by becoming a mobile-centric, app-based platform above all else. This method made it easy for Shopee to differentiate itself from other marketplaces, including Lazada. Shopee’s mobile-friendly interface makes it an excellent choice for your business if you want to attract mobile users.
With a large amount of monthly web traffic, Shopee is an ideal place to improve your online presence on an online marketplace. Shopee’s search engine considers SEO and your store performance key factors when displaying your products to customers.
Formerly known as GMarket, Qoo10 is an online marketplace that operates across various countries in Asia. Its services are well-optimised for small and medium businesses, making Qoo10 a good venue for ecommerce.
Qoo10 has won awards in the past, including “Best Online Retailer” in 2015 and 2016. Other than being credible and trustworthy, Qoo10 also boasts free listings. That means you can list as many products as possible. Qoo10 will only charge after a sale is made.
eBay is an American-based marketplace that focuses on business-to-consumer (B2C) and consumer-to-consumer (C2C) transactions. As one of the oldest online marketplaces, eBay has provided consumers with user-friendly ways to purchase and sell for more than two decades.
Its global reach is unmatched; eBay has over 159 million active buyers and 19 million sellers worldwide. You can sell your products internationally to customers who are willing to pay for the extra shipping fee.
Compared to other online marketplaces, Amazon is the oldest one out there. Founded by Jeff Bezos in 1994, Amazon has established itself as a tech giant in the information technology (IT) industry in the United States (US), right next to Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple.
Like eBay, Amazon is perfect for connecting with international audiences. Amazon expanded its online presence to multiple countries, with Singapore being the first in Southeast Asia to have its own Amazon marketplace in 2017.
The Pros And Cons Of Online Marketplaces
Pro #1: Existing Customers On Online Marketplaces
Ecommerce sites such as Lazada, Shopee, and Qoo10 are where many Singaporeans love to shop for quality products. By using a well-known online marketplace, you can immediately engage with an existing customer base. Doing so is much easier than building a website and increasing your search engine rankings with SEO strategies to attract customers.
Pro #2: Online Marketplaces Promote Themselves
Online marketplaces already promote themselves through effective digital marketing in Singapore, benefitting retailers, wholesalers, and small businesses in the process. Of course, you still have to invest in digital marketing to sell your products, but doing so is much easier, thanks to your online marketplace that already promotes itself.
Pro #3: It Is Cheaper
If budget is an issue, you may want to consider selling your products on an online marketplace. It is more affordable to set up a small business in a marketplace than an ecommerce platform as there is no need to upkeep your own ecommerce website. While some marketplaces require membership fees, most charge by commission so business owners are only required to make payment after they have made a sale.
Pro #4: Established Marketplaces Make it Easier To Gain Your Customer’s Trust
Customers will most likely trust your business if you are on a reputable online marketplace. Since ecommerce sites like Lazada and Shopee have already established their reputation as leading brands in Singapore, you will find it easier to gain your customer’s trust if you decide to sell your products in their marketplace.
Pro #5: Compare Prices With Other Online Businesses
Comparing prices from other businesses is essential because it helps you make better and more reasonable deals. The good news is that in an online marketplace, you can compare prices anytime. Look for other products similar to yours, then check their prices and see how much they fare. In doing so, you can help customers find better deals and prices at your online store.
Con #1: Branding Is Difficult
Without a company website or personal online store, it will be hard to establish your brand. Your customisation options are limited, and customers associate their purchases with the online marketplace, not the seller. For these reasons, improving your brand image in a marketplace can be difficult.
Con #2: Online Marketplaces Can Change Their Prices Anytime
To use a third-party marketplace for your small business, you first need to pay for membership or commission. While the cost might not be too expensive, online marketplaces can still change their prices anytime. They can charge you for a higher price whenever they need, which might become problematic if the price hike is too high.
Con #3: Lack Of Control And Freedom
Online marketplaces are more restrictive than ecommerce platforms. You do not have total control over the design and promotional mechanics of your online store. The restrictions imposed by your online marketplace will severely limit your options.
Con #4: Many Other Businesses Are Selling Similar Products
Whichever online marketplace you choose, expect fierce competition. Thousands of other businesses are implementing effective ecommerce SEO strategies in Singapore to rank higher on online marketplaces. You will need to compete against countless similar products, so step up your digital marketing efforts to rank higher and attract more customers.
Ecommerce Platform Vs Online Marketplace: Which Is Better?
Now that you know the pros and cons of ecommerce platforms and marketplaces, the next step is to choose which one is right for your small business SEO strategy. First, let’s take a quick recap of the differences between the two.
The Difference Between Ecommerce Platforms And Marketplaces
There’s no denying that ecommerce platforms are much more expensive than online marketplaces. Sure, you can use a free-to-use platform, but its best features and benefits require payment. You will probably have to invest more money in your ecommerce platform if you wish to maximise your online store to the fullest.
As for an online marketplace, you can sign up for a membership and pay a commission each time someone purchases your product. This method is much more affordable than creating an online store by yourself.
Using an ecommerce platform can be complicated. You must allocate a hefty amount of time and money when building your online store from the ground up. Apart from that, you need to increase your search engine rankings with SEO strategies, which could take a lot of time before your website appears on top of search results.
On the other hand, You can sell your products quickly if you set up your small business in an online marketplace. Your marketplace operator will let you pay for their third-party services, and you can go straight to selling your products once your online store is up and running.
Having a reputable ecommerce website can enhance the credibility of your business. Plus, you can design your website with total control and freedom, customising it to match with your brand image.
Online marketplaces are generally established, but the presence of unreliable sellers on the platform might affect the trust of buyers. Thus, good reviews are of utmost importance for sellers on online marketplaces.
The Final Verdict
Ecommerce platforms and marketplaces both have unique advantages that can help your small business grow. If you want total control over your entire operation, including your SEO and web design strategy, then an ecommerce platform is the right pick for you. But if you prefer to get straight down to business right away, perhaps using an online marketplace is the quickest way to go.
If you can choose both, then why not?
There is always the option to choose both if you want to get the best of both worlds. You can create an online store using an ecommerce platform while selling your products in a marketplace to boost brand recognition and awareness.
For example, whenever someone buys a product on your chosen online marketplace, you could send a “thank you” note that contains a link to your ecommerce website. This digital marketing strategy will help you drive more traffic to your website, boosting your SEO rankings to improve in the process. Try using promo codes and discounts so customers could get motivated to visit your ecommerce website and purchase your products.
Setting up an online store for your small business isn’t easy. If you need help, contact our ecommerce SEO agency at 6391-0930.