Cross-border eCommerce sales in Singapore poised for explosive growth

International expansion key to success in the years ahead, according to Visa study

ONLINE businesses see a world of opportunity for cross-border sales. According to The Visa Global Merchant eCommerce Study, eCommerce leaders globally view international expansion and finding new cross-border customers critical to driving growth, particularly heading into the prime holiday shopping period.

While a vast majority of leaders (87%) surveyed believe expanding cross-border eCommerce is one of their company’s biggest growth opportunities, almost all Singapore business owners (96%) agree that having an international presence is key to their company’s success in the years ahead.

Today, two in three businesses (66%) that sell online have international customers. These sales account for nearly a third (31%) of those business’ revenues. Even with the significant revenue from cross-border sales, more than half (51%) of companies who are selling to international customers need help to optimize their international online sales processes.

In Singapore, almost three in four (72%) eCommerce businesses are already engaging in cross-border sales. On average, these sales account for over a third (35%) of revenue. Unlike any other countries surveyed, 50 per cent of those eCommerce businesses found cultural barriers to be an issue when expanding overseas. The study shows that Singapore business owners feel unsupported in their efforts, with 98 per cent in agreement that business solutions tend to favour larger companies.

End of year holidays mean sales worldwide

The end of year holiday season makes up more than a quarter of annual revenues for almost all Singapore businesses surveyed (94%). This peak period is critical for eCommerce merchants around the world. eCommerce leaders remain bullish about penetrating new markets to remain competitive during this key period.

“In Singapore, eCommerce sales in December last year increased more than 20 per cent compared to the year before. Cross-border eCommerce contributes close to 25 per cent of total eCommerce spend, likely due to many international merchants holding year-end sales during the festive season,” says Kunal Chatterjee, Visa country manager for Singapore & Brunei.

“Cross-border is a major growth opportunity for businesses. However, it is not easy, especially for small businesses. As a global network, Visa wants to ensure that we work with merchants to create frictionless and secure payment experiences for consumers when they shop online,” he adds.

The full study, which will be issued in January 2020, dives into merchant attitudes, behaviours and perceptions of cross-border eCommerce for 10 global markets. Additional key findings include:

Seamless Experience: Whether purchasing goods domestically or internationally, customers want a similar experience. Leaders cite the most important factors as quick delivery (44%), easy checkout (41%) and convenient payment methods (41%).

New Markets: Two in three businesses (66%) that do not sell cross-border plan to do so in the near future, with 90 per cent eyeing the next three years.

Buckle Up: The international expansion journey can be a daunting venture. A vast majority of those who haven’t expanded internationally (87%) haven’t even made attempts to do so. Top challenges cited are accepting and processing foreign transactions (37%) and shipping issues (42%).


20 Dec 2019


Capital Markets

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