Singapore – E-commerce has provided businesses accelerated growth due to convenient access to the market for both sellers and buyers. Export is one of them and according to the latest MSME study by Amazon, MSMEs in Singapore anticipate greater sales growth prospects overseas than at home, with 35% of small businesses against 13% respectively. Currently, close to one-quarter (24%) of MSMEs in the country conduct B2C e-commerce, which of more than 90% use it for export.
The study found that Asia Pacific countries – Malaysia, China, Australia, Indonesia, and Thailand – are seen as the top five e-commerce export markets in five years’ time, or by 2026. About 87% of those surveyed locally in Singapore agreed that e-commerce is critical for their ability to export, with top motivations including the ability to reach overseas customers, access to sales and marketing tools that are available on e-commerce marketplaces, and support for logistics and payments provided by these marketplaces.
So what would hinder companies to realize their export strategies? According to the report, key challenges foreseen by Singaporean MSMEs can be narrowed down to three categories – barriers in cost, regulation, and information and capabilities.
High cross-border shipping costs came out as the most common challenge faced by Singapore MSMEs with 81%. The study notes that while Singapore offers a robust range of grants to support local businesses on their e-commerce export journeys, about one-third of small enterprises (32%) surveyed admitted that they will find further support valuable.
Additionally, over three-fourths (78%) of MSMEs surveyed cited a lack of clarity in import regulations as a key barrier to selling overseas via e-commerce, while only 19% believe that current advisory support on importing regulations is sufficient.
Lowered confidence to compete in the global arena also emerged as a sentiment, where 72% of MSMEs in the country believe they lack the ability to fare well versus other sellers globally. Still within technical issues, 71% admitted that they are unsure of foreign consumers’ demands and preferences.
At large, the study found that the annual value of (B2C) e-commerce exports in Singapore is estimated at S$1.4b in 2021 and could reach S$3.5b in 2026 if MSMEs accelerate their pace of using e-commerce to sell overseas. MSMEs are estimated to contribute 45% of Singapore’s B2C value of e-commerce exports in 2021.