Orchard Road is arguably Singapore’s most iconic and famous shopping street. However, in recent years, the shopping district has been losing its lustre to both young and old Singaporean shoppers. Just walk along Orchard Road and you’ll observe that several malls such as Far East Plaza and Mandarin Gallery are quiet with few shoppers in sight.
The reality is that Singaporean shoppers have been increasingly drawn to online shopping websites and suburban neighbourhood malls instead of the premier shopping belt. Online shopping websites in particular are especially popular with millennials shoppers in Singapore. Aged 16 to 34, millennials are digital natives comfortable with technology and always up for any digital experience.
Just last year, digital and social media agency We Are Social reported that more than half of all Singaporeans had made purchases online (59%). And out of these online shoppers, three in five of them prefer to shop online using their smartphones.
Among all the different online shopping categories sought-after by millennials, fashion retail is especially substantial in Singapore. Out of all Singaporeans, millennials are reported to have the highest proportion of new clothing. 30% of them said that at least half of the clothes they owned in 2017 were purchased in that year alone.
While there is no distinctive fashion trend in Singapore that young people follow, one thing in common between the millennials is that they are comfortable with shopping online for their clothes and making digital transactions.
And this is how millennials shop online in Singapore:
1. International fashion websites
When looking to be inspired by international fashion trends, many turn to fashion e-retailers such as Zalora and ASOS. These e-retailers stock well-known international brands such as Topshop, Mango, Nike, Under Armour, River Island and more. In addition, brands like Zalora and ASOS also offer their own dedicated line of wardrobe must-haves and beauty products. You can read more about these sites here.
2. Local fashion boutiques
For trendy clothing options that are the front-runners of local fashion, many millennials look towards independent online boutiques such as Dressabelle, Love, Bonito, The Closet Lover and Sufyaa. Many of these fashion boutiques started as humble blogshops or Facebook pages, but over the years, have gained a steady following. They are favoured by the millennial crowd for offering clothes with sizes and styles well-suited for the Asian frame. Check out some of the local fashion boutiques here.
3. Taobao or ezbuy
Millennials on a tight budget, and those who live for “cheap thrills” swear by shopping on Taobao, China’s largest online marketplace. This platform is the answer to cheap and affordable clothing for many young people, providing an alternative to fast fashion from international high street chains. But given the language barrier (Taobao operates in the Chinese language), Taobao can sometimes be hard to navigate. This is where third-party e-commerce agent ezbuy comes into the picture, as it is the delivery agent of choice for many millennials in Singapore. A large number of shoppers rely on ezbuy’s services to source for their purchases from Taobao.
The practice of buying and selling second-hand clothes is common among millennials in Singapore. In fact, many young people do so on Carousell, a homegrown mobile application that functions as a virtual flea market. Millennials update and expand their wardrobes often, but to do that they need both the space and money. As such, many sellers on Carousell list their “pre-loved” fashion items on the platform, to attract potential buyers. Evidently, the sharing economy is well-received among millennials, who are in it extra cash, to declutter their personal space, or to be exert their environmental consciousness.
In Singapore, millennials are quickly becoming the most influential demographic in the retail sector, representing the largest group of shoppers both online and offline. And for many of them, the idea of a retail therapy is no longer just about a shopping spree in an air conditioned mall. Instead, it is likely to involve a full online shopping experience checking out virtual cart loads of stuff from online websites and mobile applications.
By Prisca Lim, ASEAN Correspondent from Singapore