Singaporeans overseas purchases nearly double in last year

Photo by cottonbro

YouTrip registered an 84% year-on year increase in online overseas purchases by Singaporean users from July 2020 to June 2021.

This builds on the previous spike in overseas spending recorded by the company in the first half of 2020, reflecting a greater appetite for goods from foreign retailers by locals in this time of disrupted travel.

Cross-border spending makes up a key component of Singapore’s thriving e-commerce market, which is poised to reach US$8 billion in 2025.

The continued closure of borders has also encouraged the frequency of transactions from overseas retail sites. A separate YouTrip survey showed that three in five local consumers purchased from overseas shopping sites at least once a month, and half spent an average of $51 – $150 per transaction.

International marketplaces key drivers of overseas spending 

Global marketplaces continue to be hugely popular among local consumers, with key players from China and the US driving most of the overseas spending from Singaporeans.

According to YouTrip’s data, international marketplaces -Taobao (#1), Amazon (#2), (#3) and eBay (#5) – dominated the list of top 10 overseas websites frequented by Singaporeans in the past 12 months. 

Singaporeans were also not shy about increasing their spending with these online retailers. Transactions more than doubled on Taobao (131%) and (120%) from the year before, and consumers ramped up purchases on eBay, resulting in a 98% increase.

In terms of spending habits, peak transactions were registered in the mid and end of the calendar year, specifically in the months of June, November and December.

These are in line with mega sale events launched by overseas marketplaces during that period, such as the 618 Taobao Festival and Amazon Prime Day in June 2021, as well as the 11.11 Singles’ Day, 12.12 Shopping Madness, Cyber Monday and Black Friday sales in time for the end-of-year shopping season.

Crossing borders to meet more of their everyday needs 

Clothing apparel and footwear emerged as the top category for overseas shopping among Singaporeans. Consumer electronics as well as furniture and household items followed behind, as locals integrated this work-from-home normal into their daily lives. 

Beyond these popular categories, the company’s latest data also showed that Singaporeans were becoming more health-conscious during the pandemic, turning to trusted overseas retailers for products to boost their overall well-being.

Health supplement retailers – iHerb (#4) from the US and Australia’s Chemist Warehouse (#10) – were two credible  sites that Singaporeans frequented to get their dose of nutrition, whereas Lululemon HK (#8) was the go-to overseas brand for their choice of activewear.

Singaporeans have also turned up the gears on their cycling game in the past year. Cycling-related transactions more than doubled in the last 12 months, and cycling enthusiasts were visiting leading specialist bike shops – such as Evans Cycles (#9) from the UK – to pick up their own bike and cycling accessories.

In addition to  fitness, overseas retailers also provided a source of solace for Kpop fans in a time when live concerts are halted. Transactions on Weverse Shop (#6) – the global merchandise store for top idols such as BTS and GFRIEND – saw a staggering triple in growth, as legions of local fans spare no expense to purchase merchandise that will bring them closer to their favourite pop stars.

 Price is king for consumers

When asked about the reasons for purchasing from overseas retailers, around eight in 10 respondents indicated the lower cost of items on foreign sites as the key drawcard. This was followed by a wider variety  of products offered by international brands, and the lack of availability from local retailers pushing consumers to approach overseas alternatives.

“Singaporeans are becoming seasoned shoppers of marketplaces and brands from around the world,” said Caecilia Chu, Co-founder and CEO of YouTrip.

“We’re expecting this overseas spending behaviour to persist when travel resumes, as echoed by nine in 10 of our users who have indicated their preference to continue shopping from foreign retailers after borders reopen. This high consumer demand positions Singapore as a key market for international retailers.”