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Fri, Mar 28, 2014
Digital Life, The Straits Times
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Online retail scene booming
by Irene Tham


Launch date: June 2010

Offers: Fashion, beauty, IT and food products

Cost of delivery: Varies

When it comes to building its business, Qoo10 Singapore is banking on mobile devices to bring in the bucks.

Recently, it tied up with brick-and-mortar retailers to offer exclusive deals on its mobile app.

Through the Qoo10 app, Manhattan Fish Market is offering a set of two Fish 'n Chips and two Grilled Glory Dory for $15.96 (which works out to $3.99 a dish).

In the first three weeks, it sold 30,000 sets, Qoo10 said. The offer ends on Friday.

A new promotion lets customers exchange two Qoo10 loyalty stamps for an e-ticket that offers them free trial kits from The Face Shop.

They use the app to redeem the kits from the store's branches at VivoCity and Plaza Singapura. The company said when it last made a similar offer, 1,000 kits were given out within a day.

Qoo10 uses downloads of its app to attract potential customers, said its country manager for Singapore, Mr Cho Hyun Wook.

"Many Singaporeans use their smartphones when travelling to work and going home, which presents a huge opportunity for mobile commerce," he said.

Mr Cho said 40 per cent of its local traffic comes via the app and the rest from its website. It plans to boost mobile traffic to 60 per cent this year.

Qoo10 started here as a joint venture. Gmarket Korea's founder, Mr Ku Young Bae, and e-commerce giant eBay invested a combined US$20 million (S$25 million) to launch it in 2010. It now also operates in Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, Japan and Indonesia.

The site is popular for its timed sales and fashion products. The company said Singapore accounted for more than 40 per cent of its sales last year. Sales here hit $150 million last year and Qoo10 hopes to double the figure this year.


Launch date: Last month

Offers: Computing devices and peripherals

Cost of delivery: Free till end of this month and possibly beyond that

Black Friday bargains from United States online stores may have forced some local brick-and-mortar retailers to sit on the bench in the past.

But Singapore-based mobile handset store Planet Telecoms, which started operating more than a decade ago, now wants to emulate US e-tailer Amazon.

So last month, it launched its own e-store, eplanetworld, offering not just mobile handsets but a larger range of consumer electronic goods, including tablets, laptops, earphones and wireless routers.

It hopes to combine its retail savvy with a new online foray to reach out to local consumers who are increasingly Web savvy.

Today's buyers may do their browsing at brick-and-mortar shops, then go online to get the best deals, said Mr Raymond Lum, vice- president of business development at Planet Telecoms' Singapore parent, TeleChoice International, a systems integrator that is listed on the Singapore Exchange.

There are plans, he said, to exploit cross-channel promotions such as e-coupons for redemption at the physical stores. Planet Telecoms customers may also get online discounts, he said.

At present, eplanetworld offers more than 1,000 products from 60 brands, including Asus, Samsung, Nakamichi and Yamaha.

The e-store's value comes from having an unlimited virtual shelf space. Brand owners can showcase their full range of products, said Mr Lum.

The e-store can even list the products of new or lesser-known brand owners, he said, adding that this is now a luxury in physical stores because of high rents.


www.streetdeal.sgLaunch date: October 2010

Offers: Discount coupons for beauty services; discounted fashion apparel, beauty products and electronics

Cost of delivery: Varies

When it comes to discounts here, shoppers no longer need to hunt for them. They just go to

The site offers discount coupons for services such as beauty treatments at a fraction of the usual price. It also sells beauty, fashion and electronic products at a discount.

StreetDeal opened for business in October 2010 here and has since expanded into Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Singapore is still its biggest market. StreetDeal said buyers here accounted for 62 per cent of last year's $11 million in sales.

It said a growing proportion, about 70 per cent now, comes from product sales on its site, with the rest from the sale of discount coupons for brick-and-mortar retail partners.

StreetDeal is boosting its e-commerce retail, selling more products than it does discount coupons. Product sales are "much more scalable", said co-founder and chief executive Gregory Costamagna.

So the company is placing more emphasis on product fulfilment.

In the past, retailers who sold products through StreetDeal were left to deliver the purchases.

Five months ago, StreetDeal set up a warehouse and outsourced delivery to a company called Aramex.

"In the past, it used to take weeks or even months to get your product, but now, it takes only two days on average," said Mr Costamagna, who co-founded StreetDeal's holding company Asia Deal Group with French business partner Olivier Michel.

He said its mobile app and mobile website account for 20 per cent of its sales last year. StreetDeal is hoping to boost this to 50 per cent this year.

Sosoon date: Last month

Offers: Household appliances, baby and mother products, and beauty products

Cost of delivery: $5.50 per order; free for purchases of $40 or more

Delivery within 24 hours. This is what Sosoon promises customers. It achieves this about 99 per cent of the time, claims Mr Robert Van Lith, general manager of Uitox, the parent company of Sosoon.

If it cannot make good on this promise, it compensates shoppers with $10 shopping credits.

Sosoon supplements a regular fleet from courier service Ta-Q-Bin with its own vehicle. Its own drivers will deliver on weekends or when a delivery misses the regular Ta-Q-Bin delivery cycle.

"In e-commerce, you are able to buy a product online instantly, but you have to wait days to experience it physically," said Mr Van Lith.

"We are plugging that gap. The compact size of Singapore is also perfect for our unique proposition," he added.

He said he expects revenue this year to hit $20 million based on current sales. He claims that it is on track to exceed a million dollars a month in sales within six months.

"We are also seeing 10 to 20 vendors a week approach us to list their produces on our site and place inventory in our warehouse," he said.

Sosoon's founder, Taiwanese businessman Vincent Xie, was with one of Taiwan's largest shopping stores, PCHome Shopping, before quitting in 2012 after he set up its e-commerce business.

He then set up e-commerce businesses under Uitox in Taiwan, China and Singapore.

Sosoon's best-selling items are diapers, cosmetics and home electronics. It is "on track" to offer a full range of grocery products by the middle of this year.

Other shopping sites here

Launch date: January
Offers: Electronics, fashion and beauty products
Cost of delivery: Delivery is free for purchases of $40 or more. Charges vary for purchases under $40

Launch date: March 2009
Offers: Luxury products
Cost of delivery: Free local and international delivery

Launch date: Early 2012
Offers: Fashion apparel
Cost of delivery: Delivery is free for purchases of $40 or more. Charges vary for purchases under $40


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