- Singapore ranks 2nd on the World Bank’s ease-of-doing-business index
- It takes only 1.5 hours on average to register a new business in Singapore
- The e-commerce apparel market is estimated to be valued at US$372 million in 2021 and grow at a rate of 8.9% annually due to Covid-19’s impact on online shopping.
With one of the highest per capita GDP in the region, increased focus on digitization by the Singapore Government, and a young affluent population, Singapore is the ideal place to jump in the fashion e-commerce industry. But before you embark on this journey there are few key decisions to be made. Let’s take a look at those.
Identify who you want to sell to – their age, gender, and purpose. Are they youth, teens, children, babies, middle-aged or elderly? Are they male/female? What is their life stage? Are they working professionals or students? These decisions will help you decide the designs, sizes, and styles for your catalogue.
- Understand your customer – their needs, aspirations, purchasing trends
- Take into account demand hikes and drops according to festive seasons, sales, etc.
- Research your existing competition – what works for them and what can you offer as a differentiator.
- Research the quantity and quality of garments you should stock
Do you have sufficient funds to support your business? Create a clear business plan and perform a cash-flow analysis, find your initial costs, operating costs, projected revenues, and overall profits. Be conservative in your calculations and try to estimate the worst scenario along with the average scenario.
If you plan to start from home, you can start with a small initial investment. For a larger set up you need to organize funds. If you plan to fund it from savings you may need to organize your personal and family finances as well. However, if it is loans from investors/ family/ friends or banks, you will need to complete the documentation for it.
To be able to sell products in Singapore you need to first register for incorporation with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). Additionally, you need documentation like the Memorandum and Articles of Association, list of directors, minutes of the first board meeting, and share certifications and register with Singapore tax authorities for complying with the existing tax laws like GST.
Next comes relevant business licenses. A fire license for your premises is a basic mandatory requirement. You will also need an import/export license if you plan to import goods.
We also recommend studying the Singapore Broadcasting Act (SBA), Companies Act and Singapore Code of Advertising Practice to understand other regulatory aspects of online businesses.
Setting up the infrastructure
Finally, once your business is ready on paper, it is time to bring it to reality.
- If you want to start your business from home, the Home-Based Small-Scale business scheme of the Singapore Government allows you to do that.
- To stock your products, you could use extra storage space like self-storage units offered by Work+Store, so that your house remains decluttered.
- But for a larger set-up, lease an industrial space for manufacturing, warehouse space for rent, and small office space.
- At Work+Store, we give e-commerce storage space for rent that is especially suitable for businesses to store and carry out order fulfilment. These units are available in small, medium, and large sizes along with facilities like air conditioning, direct loading, meeting rooms, and 24/7 security.
If you will be selling online, you should decide whether you will exclusively sell through e-commerce platforms, your website, or both. Usually, it is a good idea to sell on both.
For a website you need to:
- Register a domain name and get a hosting service that can provide reliable availability, security, and customer support as a web server.
- Create your website with all the important features like product catalogue, shopping cart, secure payment facility, etc.
- After your website is live, you will need to invest some time and money in getting traffic to it. One of the most common ways today is social media advertising. This includes paid promotions on popular social media sites like Facebook or Instagram that your target audience visits frequently.
- Also, you need to invest in search engine optimization (SEO) to drive more visitors from Google to your website.
To sell from e-commerce platforms you need to
- Research which platform caters to your target customers and where you would like to sell. Check out their seller policies, shipping and fulfillment policy, payment terms, and commissions.
- Registering as a seller and listing your products is a simple online process on all of them. After taking some basic details and verifying your information, the sites allow you to showcase your products, manage inventory and take care of payments and receivables.
Once you are ready to start your own clothing business, all that remains is to start operations. The initial days may prove to be a great learning experience sometimes marked with hiccups. But as you continue to grow, you will realize that fashion e-commerce in Singapore is one of the most dynamic and rewarding industries to work in.