Year-End Trends: Online Consumer Behavior and How Businesses Can Leverage Them to Implement Marketing Strategies in Singapore

It is that time of the year when the shopping frenzy bug bites. The festivities are just around the corner and, as is tradition, people are expected to go on a shopping spree, the effects of the pandemic notwithstanding.


The societal impact of the pandemic in Singapore at year-end

Pre-COVID-19, this used to be the busiest time of the year for Singaporeans in so far as travelling and physical shopping is concerned. It was not unusual for flights to be fully booked, customers to make a beeline to retail stores for products and services during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, or popular spots in Singapore like Orchard Road to be abuzz with activities.

Post-COVID-19 has seen a significant change in consumer behaviour. Small and medium businesses (SMBs) can no longer sit on their laurels. Just as the world has evolved, the consumer has also evolved. This calls for a rethink of marketing strategies if various SMBs are to remain relevant and achieve a competitive advantage.

Gradually, the world is now in the recovery phase of COVID-19. The focus is no longer managing the crisis but putting in place strategies for recovery. Governments across the globe are easing restrictions, reopening up economies, and giving small and medium businesses the much needed reprieve. Singapore is using the Emerging Stronger Taskforce to create new opportunities for the country, businesses, and people.


How to keep up with changing behaviours

As the end of the year approaches, small businesses have to keep up with the ever evolving market, understand consumer behaviour trends, and how to leverage them to achieve a competitive advantage. If you are an SMB, acknowledge the fact that consumers are no longer behaving the same way they did before COVID-19 struck in Singapore.

You are dealing with consumers that have become more socially conscious, tech savvy, biased towards online shopping, and demand more anonymity and transparency. As an SMB, how do you achieve a competitive edge over your competitors in  a market like Singapore? What strategies should you put in place to attract more customers and increase sales?

The answer is in understanding trends in online consumer behaviour and leveraging them to get ahead of your competitors. So let’s shine a spotlight on the post COVID-19 consumer trends and bring you up to speed on how, as an SMB, you can leverage them to increase sales.

1. Acceptance and adoption of digitalization

Pre-COVID-19, customers had the choice to shop physically in retail stores downtown Singapore and other towns or online from the convenience of their homes. They had a choice based on tastes and preferences, incentives (think vouchers and coupon codes), and circumstances.

The onset of Covid-19 saw governments putting in place tougher restrictions, announcement of massive isolation protocols, lockdowns, and a discouragement of physical contact. Life as we knew it was flipped upside down. Dining and gathering of more than two people were banned in all parts of Singapore and businesses had to remain closed to contain the spread of the virus.We could no longer move around freely or hop into a retail store and shop at whim.

More and more people became reliant on the internet for entertainment, information, shopping, and even recreational activities. It wasn’t unusual to work from home, attend virtual interviews, or order food and other stuff through digital apps.

Online shopping went mainstream and with it a surge in e-commerce platforms. People downloaded digital apps in droves not just for online shopping, but also to learn new skills, engage in virtual home workouts, to mention but a few.

Simply put, digitalisation became the norm. People were more accepting and wholesomely adopted digitalisation. Small medium businesses now must deal with a populace that is more comfortable with online shopping and increasingly prefer it to physical shopping.

How to leverage this as an SMB

If, by some reason, you haven’t embraced online selling; you are missing out on a huge chunk of your prospective customer base in Singapore and beyond. The best time to start selling online was yesterday. The second best time is now.

Join the digitalisation bandwagon. Digitise your business by creating an online store on e-commerce platforms like Carousell that cater to small businesses for a quick and easy digital transition. This not only boosts your business visibility and secures a safe spot for your business in the market, but also helps you sell your products and services to a large pool of customers that have fully accepted and adopted digitalisation. The result? Achieving a competitive edge and more sales!

2. Increased Preference for Online Payments

If there is one major shopping trend that COVID-19 has set in motion, it has to be that of an increased preference for online payments. While it was popular pre-COVID-19, the massive campaign for cashless payments at the height of COVID-19 shot its popularity through the roof.

Before COVID-19, online payments in Singapore were largely a choice. With the need to stop the spread of this virus, more and more businesses are adopting cashless online payments. It is convenient and they can make payments from wherever they are using their mobile phones.

How to leverage this as an SMB

Most SMBs have adopted the use of cashless and online payment services. Perhaps what you need to do to stand out from competitors is diversification and optimisation in different areas, such as web pages and social media ads. Don’t just use one online payment method, such as Google Pay. 

You should diversify and optimise such that customers can pay for products and services using online payment options like PayNow, PayLah, GrabPay, Carousell Protection and more. The goal is to attain customer satisfaction and achieve continuous improvement for your target clients and business in Singapore.

3. Increased Desire for Omnipresent Communication

The adoption and acceptance of digitalisation in Singapore has led to an increased desire and demand for omnipresent communication. The shift to online/remote shopping and the convenience that comes with it means that consumers also want their queries, complaints, and whatnot, attended to immediately.

Consumers not only desire for an awesome customer experience but also expect it. A robust customer service backed by digital chatbots across multiple channels is what will set you apart from competitors. 

How to leverage this as an SMB

Communication with your customers in Singapore is key to the success of your SMB. With the increased desire for omnipresent communication, it is essential that your SMB is present across all platforms. Make use of automated chat functions to complement human customer support with the sole aim of ensuring that consumers not only enjoy robust customer service but also get solutions or access to important information instantly. Carousell for Business (CarouBiz) subscribers get access to Quick Reply and Auto Reply, which lets you send text templates you’ve set, or send automated replies when you’re unable to respond immediately.

4. More Conscious Consumption

If there is something that the COVID-19 pandemic has taught Singapore and the universe, it has to be the need for people to be more conscious of what they are consuming. More and more people are now abandoning the conventional way of buying things and are more conscious about their health as well as the environment.

This is something that will continue for the long term and small medium businesses need to ensure that they maintain quality products, not at the expense of the environment. People are now more conscious of what they are buying in Singapore and from whom.

How to leverage this as an SMB

In a survey we conducted, 95% of Carousell millennials in Southeast Asia said that purchasing pre-owned items is more sustainable. As a small and medium business in Singapore, it is in your best interest to focus on quality and customer satisfaction above everything else. Ensure that the products or services you sell to your customers are of exceptional quality, sustainable, and geared towards achieving customer satisfaction and continuous improvement. Consider highlighting how your business upholds sustainable practices and key features of your products that are environmentally friendly or promote sustainability to appeal to modern consumers’ shopping motivations.

To sum it up, staying ahead of your competitors requires you to be innovative. Consumer habits are always changing. You need to understand your customer needs, their behaviours, their expectations, and craft marketing strategies that will propel your small and medium business to greater heights!