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Setting up shop online nowadays is as simple as snapping a picture, setting a price and finding a marketplace.

Personally, I’ve always wanted to operate an online shop, but I’ve never found the motivation or even a good reason to start. I always think of the costs to set up a shop, and stop right there.

Image Credit: Dukes Bazaar.com
Image Credit: Dukes Bazaar.com

Worrying about the logistics about selling to international buyers had me looking for local marketplaces. I’ve set up small stalls at flea markets before, but never tried e-commerce.

A Market for Entrepreneurs

Talking to my sister and a few friends who operated online marketplaces to sell clothes, I soon found out the main problems of their businesses: payments, quality concerns and logistics.

Buyers were scared that the clothes wouldn’t be of quality, or if the package would even arrive. Sellers were also concerned about getting cheated if they didn’t pay to set up a secure payment system.

Image Credit: Shopee Singapore
Image Credit: Shopee Singapore

To solve these problems, Shopee provides logistical as well as business solutions in a single package, bringing down costs and hassle barriers for online shops.

Only one stipulation: Shopee is about growing your business as an entrepreneur rather than about you trying to clear your pre-loved goods.

Calling itself a “social marketplace”, Shopee uses social media features such as hashtags, likes, follows and recommendations to customize your shopping experience. A live chat system means that shoppers and sellers can easily interact with each other like in brick-and-mortar stores.

Owning a Store Rather Than a Haggling Page

The constant haggling I was seeing my sister do looked too troublesome for me. It seemed that buyers were interested in getting the best deal for themselves, and for any listing, people would haggle with the idea they were buying pre-loved goods.

Shopee, however, is nurturing a marketplace environment like E-bay or Amazon. Over 90% of the products on Shopee are brand new and many of their sellers are business owners. I heard from a few of them:

“Transactions take place without the need to communicate between sellers and buyers” Says Yi Hui, owner of Hush.sg. “This is essential for small businesses with limited manpower to grow their business… you can only grow so much if you have to spend 5 minutes on every single transaction finalising the details.”

Image Credit: Shopee Singapore
Image Credit: Shopee Singapore

Sounds handy, especially since what I want is to fire and forget on my end. No need to think about being at a disadvantage as a seller or a buyer as Shopee acts as a middleman with Shopee guarantee, ensuring both parties pay and are paid once they have both fulfilled their ends of the sale.

Thinking About Both Buyers and Sellers

The Shopee UI is built for mobile shopping. Simple but informative, the format which Shopee provides for sellers is extremely effective. Important statistics like shop rating, response rate and seller last seen status are condensed at the storefront, making it very buyer-friendly.

Image Credit: Shopee Singapore app - (L to R) Android interface, iPhone interface
Image Credit: Shopee Singapore app – (L to R) Android interface, iPhone interface

Constant minute-to-minute checks by Shopee’s content listing team and an efficient algorithm are also set in place to ensure product listings are of quality and that they are compliant with the platform’s community guidelines. All this to make your shopping experience an easy, secure and fuss-free one.

Established retail sellers have migrated to Shopee to target mobile shoppers as well. GameproShop@Funan’s Brydan Foo joined up with Shopee as they provided him “a great mutual business relationship where we work[ed] out strategies to achieve more sales and reach out to more customers.”

More than just a marketplace, Shopee also has a program to educate budding entrepreneurs called “Shopee University”, where people can learn exactly how to set up their online store and sell their products effectively via Shopee.

A Bazaar-like Ecosystem

To this end, Shopee encourages sellers to find a particular niche instead of trying to cover a general category. (such as cosmetics, etc.) Interesting niches that people have taken to are importing products that are not available in Singapore, such as Kylie Cosmetics or XiaoMi peripherals like their Fitness Band.

Image Credit: (L to R) Xiaomi Fitness Band and Kylie Liquid Lipstick
Image Credit: (L to R) Xiaomi Fitness Band and Kylie Liquid Lipstick

Particularly interesting are the handmade products available in Shopee as well, with a section called “Design and Crafts” devoted to these products. A Singaporean Etsy seems to be thriving online as products range from card holdersgreeting cards, to lazer-cut signs at reasonable prices.

Image Credit: Ohduct, TipsyTopsy, kcottagestudio
Image Credit: Ohduct, TipsyTopsy, kcottagestudio

The best part about everything I’ve said? Shopee is entirely commission and fees-free for users on both ends. They provide free shipping, and big products are handled by third-party logistics companies like NinjaVan, so you don’t have to worry about anything other than just listing your products!

#Dontsaybojio: The Great Singapore Sale has come to Shopee! Head on in-app or to www.shopee.sg and start shopping crazy deals with great savings!

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