Introduction

E-commerce (electronic commerce or eCommerce) is the buying and selling of goods and services, or the transmitting of funds or data, over an electronic network, primarily the Internet. These business transactions occur either business-to-business, business-to-consumer, consumer-to-consumer or consumer-to-business. The main advantages of e-commerce include its round-the-clock 24/7 availability, its speed of access, a wider selection (and comparison) of goods and services, accessibility, and international reach. Some short-comings of eCommerce include security and privacy issues of making online transactions and also the lack of actually seeing and touching the products before making purchases.

Growth at lightning pace

Market research firm eMarketer projects e-commerce sales will eclipse $3.5 trillion within the next five years. The web will account for 7.3% of global retail sales this year, growing to 12.4% by 2019, eMarketer says. The Asia-Pacific region is growing faster than any other at a rate of 35.2% year over year, with eMarketer projecting $875 billion in online sales in 2015.

The Singapore scene

Besides increasing internet penetration and increasing comfort with internet and mobile payment methods, other factors fuelling Singapore start-ups to adopt the eCommerce approach are the relentlessly rising labour and rental costs. The last decade has witnessed over a dozen local and international eCommerce shops springing up in Singapore. You may want to read this article (written by specommerce) for an overview of the eCommerce situation in Singapore. For the rest of the post, I shall enumerate the top 15 online stores (in no particular order) operating in Singapore. The list does not include online travel sites like Wego or Zuji or hotel booking sites like agoda.com or booking.com.

Amazon

Amazon.com, Inc. is an American electronic commerce and cloud computing company with headquarters in Seattle, Washington. It is the largest Internet-based retailer in the United States. Amazon.com started as an online bookstore, later diversifying to sell DVDs, Blu-rays, CDs, video downloads/streaming, MP3 downloads/streaming, audiobook downloads/streaming, software, video games, electronics, apparel, furniture, food, toys and jewelry. The company also produces consumer electronics—notably, Amazon Kindle e-book readers, Fire tablets, Fire TV and Fire Phone.

Founder:  Jeff Bezos
Country of origin: USA
SimilarWeb Singapore Rank: 15


TaoBao 淘宝

Taobao (淘宝网) is a Chinese website for online shopping similar to eBay and Amazon that is operated in China by Alibaba Group. Founded by Alibaba Group on May 10, 2003, Taobao Marketplace facilitates consumer-to-consumer (C2C) retail by providing a platform for small businesses and individual entrepreneurs to open online stores that mainly cater to consumers in Chinese-speaking regions (Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan) and also abroad.

Founder: Jack Ma
Country of origin: China
Singapore branch: sea.taobao.com
SimilarWeb Singapore Rank: 21


ebay

eBay.com is an online auction and shopping website in which people and businesses buy and sell a broad variety of goods and services worldwide. In addition to its auction-style sales, the website has since expanded to include "Buy It Now" shopping; shopping by UPC, ISBN, or other kind of SKU (via Half.com); online classified advertisements (via Kijiji or eBay Classifieds); online event ticket trading (via StubHub); online money transfers (via PayPal) and other services. The website is free to use for buyers, but sellers are charged fees for listing items and again when those items are sold. The company also makes additional money through its PayPal subsidiary which is used by sellers to collect payment for items sold.

Founder: Pierre Omidyar
Country of origin: USA
Singapore branch: ebay.com.sg
SimilarWeb Singapore Rank: 136


Groupon

Groupon is a global e-commerce marketplace connecting millions of subscribers with local merchants by offering activities, travel, goods and services in more than 45 countries. Groupon was launched in November 2008 in USA. By the end of March 2015, Groupon served more than 500 markets worldwide, nearly 48.1 million active customers and featured more than 425,000 active deals globally.

Founders: Andrew MasonEric LefkofskyBrad Keywell
Country of origin: USA
Singapore branch: groupon.sg
SimilarWeb Singapore Rank: 138


Rakuten

Rakuten, Inc. is a Japanese electronic commerce and Internet company based in Tokyo, Japan. Its B2B2C e-commerce platform Rakuten Ichiba is the largest e-commerce site in Japan and among the world’s largest by sales. In 2005, Rakuten started expanding outside Japan, mainly through acquisitions and joint ventures. Its acquisitions include Buy.com (now Rakuten.com Shopping in the US), Priceminister (France), Ikeda (now Rakuten Brasil), Tradoria (now Rakuten Deutschland), Play.com (UK), Wuaki.tv (Spain), and Kobo Inc. (Canada). In 2014,  Rakuten commenced operations in Singapore, with more than 120 Japanese and local merchants and 40,000 products across categories including fashion, food and electronics. Notable brands currently available at Rakuten in Singapore include Kuriya Fish Market, VANILLABEANS and Kenko.com.

Founders: Hiroshi Mikitani
Country of origin: Japan
Singapore branch: rakuten.com.sg
SimilarWeb Singapore Rank: 722


Qoo10

Giosis, the company behind Qoo10, operates an e-marketplace offering sellers customisable sales strategies and buyers an extensive product portfolio. It is a joint venture established between eBay Inc. and Gmarket Inc. founder, Mr Ku Young Bae, in April 2010. Today, Giosis provides seven localised marketplaces, Qoo10, in five countries – China, Hong Kong, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. It partners esteemed enterprises such as Mecox Lane and Yahoo to enable e-commerce of the best deals in almost every country. Qoo10’s five markets transacted SGD278 million in 2012, almost doubling 2011’s SGD150 million. In Singapore, its daily transactions are about 30,000, translating into monthly sales volume of SDG15 million and annual sales volume of SGD90 million in 2012. More than 1,000 new users are registered on Qoo10 Singapore every day since January 2012.

Founders: Young Bae Ku
Country of origin: South Korea
Singapore branch: qoo10.sg
SimilarWeb Singapore Rank: 10


Carousell

Carousell  is a Singaporean e-commerce company, providing consumer to consumer sales services via a mobile application. It is headquartered in Singapore. Carousell operates within countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, and the United States of America. It is currently available as a mobile app for both Apple and Android devices.  In a review by Vulcan Post, statistics showed that Carousell users created over 8 million listings of new items for sale in categories ranging from fashion to furniture and baby products. To date, Carousell has expanded regionally to three countries, including Malaysia, Indonesia, and Taiwan. 

Founders: Quek Siu Rui, Lucas Ngoo, Marcus Tan
Country of origin: Singapore
SimilarWeb Singapore Rank: 20


Lazada

Lazada Group is a privately owned e-commerce company headquartered in Singapore that was founded by Germany company Rocket Internet in 2011 with the goal of being “the Amazon.com of Southeast Asia.” As of 2014, Lazada Group operated sites in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam and had raised approximately US$647 million over several investment rounds. Its sites launched in March 2012, with a business model of selling inventory to customers from its own warehouses. In 2013 it added a marketplace model that allowed third-party retailers to sell their products through Lazada's site; the marketplace accounted for 65% of its sales by the end of 2014. In May 2014, Lazada launched in Singapore, its sixth country. In November 2014 Temasek Holdings in Singapore led a funding round of $250 million, bringing the total Lazada had raised to approximately $647 million.

Founders: Alexander Samwer, Marc Samwer, Oliver Samwer (Germany)
Country of origin: Singapore
Singapore Branch: lazada.sg
SimilarWeb Singapore Rank: 53


Zalora

If you think the name 'Zalora' sounds conspicuously similar to 'Lazada', you are not alone. In fact, Zalora is wholly owned by the same Germany holding company Rocket Internet that owns Lazada. Founded in 2012, it is touted to be "the fastest growing online fashion retailer in Asia". With over 400 brands across womenswear, menswear, footwear, accessories, beauty and sports, they are quickly becoming the destination for online fashion in the region. And with a good mix of local and international designer brands, they aim to become the one-stop online fashion shop that will cater towards all your needs and preferences. A big chunk, 25 percent, of Zalora’s revenue comes from mobile commerce, and the company says its app is the top lifestyle app in all the countries it serves, and the top app overall for Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Founders: Alexander Samwer, Marc Samwer, Oliver Samwer (Germany)
Country of origin: Singapore
SimilarWeb Singapore Rank: 105


Redmart

Founded in August 2011, RedMart is a online eCommerce site which allows you to buy groceries from and get them delivered straight to your doorsteps. RedMart offers mainly groceries and household essentials including food, beverages, alcohol, baby, health & beauty, household, as well as pet care products. They have over 20,000 products in stock, and are adding more regularly.  They offer these products at everyday low prices with regular sales and promotions.  

Founders: Roger Egan III, Vikram Rupani, Rajesh Lingappa
Country of origin: Singapore
SimilarWeb Singapore Rank: 384


Shopback

ShopBack is a Singaporean-headed e-commerce startup founded in 2014 that utilises the cashback reward program. It allows online shoppers to take a portion of their cash back when they buy products through the service. They also provide discount coupons and voucher codes for online shopping. It is currently affiliated with over 300 merchants from all over the world, including online retail giants Taobao, Zalora, Lazada, Rakuten and Groupon. ShopBack’s founding team was previously from the German holding company Rocket Internet (again!).  The service was founded on the basis of improving the consumer online shopping experience by helping online shoppers save as much as possible. ShopBack is supported by NUS Enterprise.

Founders: Henry Chan, Bryan Chua, Derrick Goh, Joel Leong, Lai Shanru, Samantha Soh
Country of origin: Singapore
SimilarWeb Singapore Rank579


Reebonz

Reebonz is an online platform founded in 2009 for buying and selling luxury products. Modelled around the concept of 'accessible luxury', members can shop on web or mobile for an exciting collection of new and pre-owned luxury merchandise. Visitors are required to log in via Facebook Connect, or register as a member with their email addresses before they can view and shop the sale events. Membership is free. Reebonz targets customers in the Asia-Pacific region, and is one of the most established online luxury sales companies in Southeast Asia consisting of over 300 staff, with business operations in eight countries in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Australia and South Korea.

Founders: Samuel Lim, Daniel Lim, Benjamin Han
Country of origin: Singapore
SimilarWeb Singapore Rank907


HipVan

HipVan is an online store for great designs in home & furnishings, fashion & accessories, art & collectibles, kitchenware, etc. It was first launched in Singapore in April 2013. HipVan currently stocks more than 20,000 products, the company claims, and sees over 150,000 visitors per month on its store. Among its investors are Skype co-founder Toivo Annus, Singapore celebrity Jade Seah, tech entrepreneur Darius Cheung, and Singapore investment firms Silicon Straits and LionRock Capital and Singapore-based venture capital firm Wavemaker.

Founders: Shobhit Datta, Kevin Vo, Deborah Wee, and Danny Tan
Country of origin: Singapore
SimilarWeb Singapore Rank661


HonestBee

HonestBee is an online "same-day" grocery delivery service founded in 2014 in Singapore. This means that you receive your purchases on the same day you order them.  It was supposedly launched as a “social impact business” to provide employment to people who are unable to hold regular jobs, such as stay-at-home parents, caregivers, and students. Honestbee’s part-time shoppers collect groceries from local stores for each customer’s shopping list and then hand the package to its logistics partners, who usually deliver orders about an hour after they are placed. Among the supermarkets served include NTUC Fairprice, Cold Storage, GNC, Mmmm! and Gastronomia. It has recently expanded its operations to Hong Kong and has plans to expand to six other regional countries.

Founders: Isaac Tay, Joel Sng, Jonathan Low
Country of origin: Singapore
SimilarWeb Singapore Rank1871


Luxola

Luxola was launched in Singapore in 2011 and has quickly grown into the destination for beauty in Southeast Asia; carrying about 10,000 beauty products from 300 brands, including Clinique, SK-II and L'Oreal and serving customers across the region including Australia, India and the UAE. Luxola has 120 staff in 12 markets in South-east Asia, Australia, the United Arab Emirates and India. In  2015, the French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH acquired Luxola for a figure believed to be in the tens of millions of dollars. The purchase was  done through LVMH's cosmetics unit Sephora.

Founder: Alexis Horowitz-Burdick (USA)
Country of origin: Singapore
SimilarWeb Singapore Rank992


eCommerce – Top 15 online shops in Singapore

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