Mr Gan Thiam Poh: To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry (a) whether the Ministry tracks the amount of expenditure made by Singapore residents at overseas e-commerce platforms; (b) if so, what is the trend and percentage of the total expenditure by Singapore residents on these overseas e-commerce platforms as compared to purchases made offline locally; and (c) what measures have been taken to support local businesses in the competition against these overseas e-commerce platforms.
Oral Answer (to be attributed to Minister of State for Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling)
1. The proportion of online retail sales has increased over the past few years, from about 5.8 per cent in 2019 to about 13.1 per cent in 2022. This includes only sales done through retailers registered with the Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). MTI does not track the expenditure made by Singapore residents on overseas e-commerce platforms.
2. The retail industry has changed significantly with digitalisation and the growth of e-commerce platforms. With the shift to online retail, our enterprises can leverage e-commerce platforms to access new customers locally and overseas. We have implemented a range of initiatives to help our businesses adapt and compete. Enterprise Singapore supports companies in building their capabilities in data analytics and order fulfilment, getting on board e-commerce platforms such as Amazon and Qoo10, and developing omnichannel sales strategies. With the help of e-commerce solution providers, we also support enterprises in selling their products on multiple overseas e-marketplaces so that they can expand their customer base. For example, Enterprise Singapore provided targeted branding and strategy support to homegrown company Castlery’s in their expansion into the US market in 2019. Today, Castlery’s international orders account for more than 70 per cent of its revenue, compared to about 20 per cent before the COVID-19 pandemic.
3. In the global marketplace, it becomes even more important for businesses to differentiate their products and position themselves to serve customers better. For example, Enterprise Singapore supported homegrown company Skin Inc in developing a mobile app that provides customers with personalised diagnoses of their skin condition and recommendations of customised products.
4. The Government will continue to work with enterprises to adapt and innovate for greater e-commerce potential.