In LIFESTYLE

The Boom Of E-Commerce

I read a recent article by The Strait Times on Saturday 9 June 2012 and it addressed that traditional parcel post has got a boost in revenue due to growing trend towards online shopping and growth in e-commerce websites and Blogshops. The Singpost Head of Postal Services even exclaimed that Blogshops and online shopping changed everything and the increase in parcel shipment is seen all year round. Singpost is also introducing new measures to cash in on the internet shopping boom. In 2 months time, Singpost plans to launch an SMS service to both online shops and their customers after the parcel has been delivered.

I applaud this move because as a new online retail owner, parcels that are delivered should reach the correct customers and right on time. Therefore, partnering effective and efficient delivery services would help online retail shops maintain a high level of customer service to clients. Lost parcels and claims will create a bad image and result in tarnished reputation for the online shops and customers will not go back to the online shops to buy products again.  Hence speedy and accurate delivery service is of utmost importance to the success of an online shop,  apart from selling premier and fine quality goods.

It irks me quite a lot when I receive Advice Notices from Singpost declaring that the postman has delivered your article but no one is at home to receive it. I have my helper at home all day and I always get these Delivery Advice Notices. I can’t help but feel that Singpost delivery service postmen do not put enough effort to try to contact the recipient. It is easy to just write a note and dump it into the mailbox of the recipient. It does not matter whether the sender or recipient wishes that the Registered Article reaches the addressee on time and in a good condition. I am always peeved and annoyed whenever I have to call Singpost or go to their website to re-direct the Registered Article again. My kind husband would usually take the brunt of my rile and drive to the nearest Singpost offiice to collect my Registered Article.

I do not have such a problem with International Delivery Partners like DHL. If they are not able to get to your door at the stated timings, they would give the recipient a phone call to ask if the sender or recipient is at home and if they can proceed to collect or deliver the parcels respectively. This is the kind of attitude and service that we should get from Singpost and the recently Ta Q Bin. I got a call from Ta Q Bin today alleging that they have been trying to deliver an item to me since 11 June 2012. They explained that their delivery men have tried to intercom my apartment many times but no one picked up. From 11 June until 18 June, it is a good 7 calendar days. Why do you call me only after 7 calendar days to report such an issue. What if I need the article urgently?

Even before I start delivery of my items, I am so disappointed and appalled with Ta Q Bin’s service level. I rather pay a premium to delivery partners so that I know my parcel is delivered to my customer on time and in good condition. If Singpost wants to cash in on this new cow, they should first train and improve their courier service personnel and postmen before they think of new ideas to cash in and milk the cow. Their postmen should be equipped with handy barcode scanners and mobile phones so that they can reach the sender or recipient anytime anywhere. They should not rely on the fact they have a monopoly in Singapore because other delivery services will want to milk this fat cow too.

A surge in online shopping allowed Australian Post to double its profit in 2010 to 2011, despite losing more than $90 million  on letter delivery services as people have progressed to sending emails, e-vites and e-cards instead of using paper stationery. Hongkong Post has also reported a boom in parcel delivery as many people are buying things from Chinese distributors. A Paypal study showed that Singapore’s online commerce market grew from $1.1 billion to $1.4 billion and projected to hit $4.4 billion by 2015.

The boom of e-commerce in Asia markets have taken many listed companies by surprise. Many are frantically finding good e-commerce companies to set up websites for their businesses and are pumping in monies to carry out digital online advertising. This goes to show that the traditional retail sector is slowly and surely fading away and overtaken by online shopping. We no longer only chat on cyberspace, we shop, we eat and we also date in cyberspace. The trend to move to cyberspace will not negate as even professionals like doctors and lawyers are providing medical and legal advice on cyberspace.

The boom in e-commerce has also drawn the attention of Rocket Internet, a German online startup incubator founded in Berlin in 2007 by the Samwer Brothers. They have cloned other business models and replicated them successfully elsewhere. They currently operate the e-commerce retail companies Zalando in Germany, Locondo in Japan, The Iconic and Zanui in Australia. Their other ventures include Citydeal, which was purchased by Groupon for US$126M, Wimdu which profited by US$90M and Alando, which was bought by eBay for US$50M.

In November 2011 the company launched ZALORA Singapore, an online retailer of fashion and shoes based in eastern Singapore, which primarily targets 18-35 year old men and women. It is part of larger ZALORA Asia Group that also has a presence in Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam and Indonesia since late 2011. ZALORA Singapore currently has over 300 employees. ZALORA Singapore is currently available only to those living in Singapore.

In Singapore, Rocket Internet Gmbh has also set up FoodPanda, a separate venture that delivers food via orders through its website.  It works by allowing users browse through menus of partner restaurants near the user’s postal code, order the food, and pay via cash on delivery.

In May 2012, the company also launched Home24 Singapore, the one stop online furniture shop that specialises in home decor, indoor and outdoor furniture and furnishing. Rocket Internet is trying to conquer the internet world not only in USA, Europe but also in Asia, especially in China and India where e-commerce sales could hit trillions in dollars.

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