Expanding to Singapore

Amazon cross-border e-commerce launch checklist

Learn how to navigate Amazon Global Selling opportunities in Asia.


Expand to Singapore

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4 steps for successfully launching into Asia and why Singapore should be in your consideration list

Now that you have established an Amazon Store in your home country, be it in the United States, Europe or the United Kingdom, growing your brand in more international Amazon Stores in Asia can sound daunting. Each country has its own rules and regulations and figuring out whether your product is competitive in each country requires some research. We have put together a 4-step checklist to help you diversify your revenue while managing risks.


Size up e-commerce opportunities

To increase your chance of success, research e-commerce growth opportunities across different countries. Asia offers great growth opportunities but the online spending patterns and payment acceptance across the region can be vastly different.
When it comes to Asia, it is a multicultural, multilingual region with varying levels of development. From highly developed nations with high e-commerce penetration to developing nations with varying levels of smart phone penetration. There are countries with high credit and debit card penetration, and countries where digital wallets or cash-on-delivery is the norm. In addition, COVID 19 has also impacted the projected growth rate of e-commerce and the purchasing behaviors of customers. Some common research statistics to look at would be:
(1) GDP per capita by Purchasing Power Parity (just because the absolute GDP per capita is small does not mean it doesn’t go a long way depending on the country)
(2) E-commerce penetration (just because the population is big does not mean everyone shops online)
(3) E-commerce basket size or annual online spending (customers could be purchasing online only in very few categories, or it could constitute a small portion of overall spending)
(4) Credit/Debit card penetration (just because customers shop online does not mean they can pay for the items in the payment method your online store can accept)
(5) Preference for imported goods and COVID behavioral online shopping changes (Local competitors could be strong and COVID spending patterns could affect your product category)

Did you know?

• Singapore has one of the highest GDP per capita (PPP adjusted) in the world (ahead of Qatar, Switzerland and the UAE)¹
• Revenue of the Singapore ecommerce industry is expected to exceed USD 4.6 billion dollars by 2025²
• The average basket size across South East Asia has increased by 23% despite COVID and Singapore shows one of the biggest improvements with a growth of 51%³
Download our Expand to South East Asia with Amazon Singapore guide to help in your research.


Research local laws, regulations and customs requirements

Thanks to Free Trade Agreements in various countries in Asia, tariffs can be low. But the ease and efficiency of imports and product restrictions/certifications in each country can vary greatly.
Importing goods to Asia generally involves import tariffs (where applicable), and applicable value-added taxes, or consumption taxes (e.g. Goods and Services Tax). This will have an impact on costs of doing business and pricing of products. Local laws and regulations relating to which products are controlled goods, and which require special licenses should be researched beforehand. Ensure you have done thorough research on:
(1) Existing Free Trade Agreements between your home country and end destination. Please ensure you comply with Country of Origin requirements to enjoy preferential treatment for your goods.
(2) Applicable import taxes (VAT, GST or other consumption taxes) and import duties (tariffs, excise duties etc)
(3) List of controlled goods and the import requirements for these controlled items
(4) List of local competent authorities who can authorize licenses, permits, certificates, documentation and pre-import approvals
(5) Whether an Importer of Record (IOR) is needed for import licenses declaration and customs clearance. You might want to engage a third party service provider that could render such assistance
(6) Whether a new registered business entity should be set up
(7) Whether local tax registrations and filings are required
(8) Whether there are local tax rules that mandate the marketplace operators to collect indirect taxes on your sales of goods

Did you know?

Known for its ease of doing business, Singapore has been ranked #2 worldwide by the World Bank⁴ , #1 in terms of customs clearance⁵, #1 in Aisa for IP protetcion⁶. And SG is also the most connected city in Aisa with 26 FTAs including the US-SG FTA, China-SG FTA, EU-SG FTA which makes the import of most goods to Singapore tariff free⁷.

Importer of Record

An importer of record (IOR) is required by Amazon to sell in Singapore. The IOR is the entity responsible for paying import duties and taxes, ensuring that your imports comply with local laws and regulations. Note that neither Amaonz nor its fulfillment centers can save as the IOR for FBA shipments.
Connect with our Amazon Service Provider Network to get advice on customs, taxes and relevant import services to Singapore.


Understand local online shoppers’ preferences

Is red an auspicious color for Lunar New Year? Are your supplements Halal certified for Muslim customers? Are Western holidays such as Christmas or Halloween popular? Asian customers’ tastes, and key drivers for shopping online can be different from Western customers.
Asia is a diverse region of cultures, religions, languages. Due to increasing Western consumption influences and Korean K-wave influences, Asian customers are increasingly spoilt for choice with a wide selection of imports. Ensuring quality, trust, and fast delivery will be the key to unlock their hearts and wallets. Understanding local insights, local cultures, local languages, and whether your product is competitive in another country can be tough. Some insights to gather below will help you sell like a local:
(1) Local language preferences: While English is the dominant language in countries like Singapore, localized languages would be important in other Asian countries such as Japan.
(2) Local cultural nuances: If you are a seller that caters to Chinese festive decor and customs, selling to countries with a large Chinese population or one that practices Chinese customs or celebrates common holidays such as Lunar New Year would be advantageous. Similarly, Western holidays and trends are shaping purchasing behaviors in many Asian countries – make sure to research them beforehand. Leveraging a wider range of shopping events globally can help you diversify revenue and peak seasons outside your home country.
(3) Drivers of online shopping: Does free delivery matter or fast delivery? How to drive more sales during key shopping events?
(4) Competitor research: What is the usual pricing and availability of imports locally? How do they promote during peak seasons?
(5) Top trending Amazon products: Get the latest research on top trending Amazon products in the country and attend local events/webinars to network with other Amazon Sellers and gain more insights to the local Amazon Store.

Did you know?

Singapore is a melting pot of West and East, with English being a national language in Singapore. Singapore has four major races, namely, Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian, living in harmony. Due to the presence of many multinational company headquarters in Singapore, a vibrant expat community from around the world also lives here. Singapore customers are familiar with Western products, brands, movies, trends (pumpkin spiced lattes and spin studios/classes are popular here too!) and celebrate typical Western holidays such as Christmas and Halloween as well as Chinese ones such as Lunar New Year. Double digit shopping events such as 11/11 are also common.

Based on IPSOS research of Singapore online shoppers, we've summarized key findings that will help you navigate the Singapore e-commerce scene like a local.
Check out our E-commerce Guide to Shoppers in Singapore and start selling like a local.


Calculate initial investment into new international stores

Amazon selling fees, referral fees and FBA fees vary across different countries. Do consider relevant taxes, importation fees and IP registration fees too in your assessment of initial investments. Marketing investments to increase initial traffic to your Amazon store should also be considered.
Amazon currently operates 3 Stores in Asia: Japan, Singapore and India. Using Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) can greatly help to reduce cross-border fulfilment operational concerns. Use the FBA fee calculator and FBA revenue calculator to help you decide the right fulfillment choice for your end customers.
Once you’ve decided on a few ASINs to test pilot in a new country, do consider using Sponsored Products, Vouchers and Deals to increase traffic to your Amazon Store. The advantage of listing in more countries is being able to leverage different peak shopping seasons around the world, and finding new customers to diversify revenue.
While it may seem like a lot of homework and effort to launch into Amazon Stores half way across the world, this can help diversify your revenue and help your brand grow in Asia. Asia is one of the most promising e-commerce regions. The World Economic Forum projects that worldwide, e-commerce is expected to grow at an average of 47% in the next five years. The Asian market is expected to grow at 51%, with Europe and North America growing by 42% and 35% respectively⁸.
Test piloting in a new country is more like a marathon than a short sprint. Experiment and be ready to grow with the emerging middle class in the region.

Did you know?

Amazon Singapore currently has promotional deals for new sellers that can help reduce the initial cost of investment:
• Monthly subscription fee (SGD 29.95) for the Professional Selling Plan is waived till 31 Dec 2022*
• Free storage & Free Removals with the Fulfillment By Amazon New Selection Program till 31 Dec 2021**
• Deals and Coupon waiver for all deal types via Fulfillment by Amazon till 31 Dec 2021
(*) Terms & Conditions for Professional Selling Plan promotion
(**) Terms & Conditions for FBA New Selection Program (Seller Central login required)
1. World Bank GDP per capita by PPP comparisons, 2019-2020
2. Statista’s Singapore e-commerce revenue, 2021
3. iPrice 2020: https://iprice.sg/trends/insights/the-impacts-of-covid-19-on-e-commerce-in-southeast-asia-in-h1-2020
4. The World Bank, 2020: https://www.doingbusiness.org/en/data/exploreeconomies/singapore
5. Singapore Economic Development Board, 2020 https://www.edb.gov.sg/en/our-industries/logistics-and-supply-chain-management.html
6. The World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report, 2019
7. Enterprise Singapore, 2021 https://www.enterprisesg.gov.sg/non-financial-assistance/for-singapore-companies/free-trade-agreements/ftas/singapore-ftas#:~:text=Comprising%20about%2030%25%20of%20global,boost%20trade%20and%20investment%20flows
8. World Economic Forum, 2021: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/09/e-commerce-fast-growth-online-sales-china-europe-america/
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