COVID-19 pushes Singaporeans to digital-first shopping

Photo by Bruce Mars

Three in every four consumers in Singapore are shopping more frequently online, showing how the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly accelerated the shift to e-commerce there, according to the Visa Consumer Payment Attitudes Study. 

One-third of Singaporeans (31%) shopped online for the first time during the pandemic, making purchases via websites or mobile applications. 

This reflects a wider shift towards digital-first experiences in light of new habits formed during nationwide lockdowns, safe-distancing measures, and personal safety concerns.

With many turning to the internet for their purchases, more than half (52%) of Singaporeans shopped less frequently in physical stores. 

In contrast, home delivery has seen a significant rise during the pandemic, with seven in 10 (71%)Singaporeans using home delivery more frequently and one in four (25%) using home delivery for the first time.

Almost half of the consumers are also more inclined to shop from large online marketplaces now, while nearly a third are shopping more frequently from local businesses (31%) and home-based businesses (31%). 

These new shopping preferences might even turn into habits that last beyond the pandemic. One in five Singaporean consumers (20%) expect to continue shopping at large online marketplaces after the pandemic ends, and more than one in 10 Singaporean consumers expect shopping from home-based businesses (14%) and local businesses (10%) to become post-pandemic habits.

“We have observed the increased demand for digital-first experiences, as many Singaporeans turn to safer, more convenient and intuitive shopping experiences, powered by innovation and technology,” said Kunal Chatterjee, Visa country manager for Singapore and Brunei.

“We see more first-timers shopping on eCommerce, more companies going digital and this trend is likely to stay,” said Chatterjee. “Visa has been actively helping businesses and organisations of all sizes, adapt to new and lasting consumer habits in digital commerce.”

Also, nearly half of Singaporean consumers (49%) shop more frequently via proximity stores — direct delivery to their homes after ordering by phone — with one in four (25%) doing so for the first time during the pandemic. 

Meanwhile, two in five Singaporeans (41%) shop more frequently via social media channels, and one in five of them are first time social media shoppers.