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TELECOM & INTERNET | Contributed Content, Singapore
Published: 15 Nov 12
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Chris Reed

Singapore leads Asia in mobile take up and M commerce

BY CHRIS REED

Singapore is a great place to be if you want to know the future of mobile commerce and marketing. A new survey commissioned by the Mobile Marketing Association of Singapore found some incredible stats on Singaporeans and mobiles:

-       7.8million mobile phones in Singapore, 150% penetration

-       90% of Singapore owns a smartphone

-       43% chose mobile over friends

-       39% chose mobile over pc/laptop

-       60% multitask on mobile while watching TV

-       84% check mobile when they wake up in the middle of the night

Even though some of these stats are actually disturbing, they mean that brands in Singapore (whether multi national brands or SME’s) need to have a mobile marketing application campaign and business strategy. Those that do will reap the rewards.

Qoo10, an online purveyor of all things feminine and fun, has combined impulse shopping and mobile phones. The retailer reported $15 million in mobile sales across the Asia Pac region by mid-October - a year after launching its mobile app - with Singapore as its fastest-growing market.

Of the 700,000 mobile app downloads, Singapore accounted for 64 per cent - or more than 450,000 - of them. That’s one in ten Singaporeans or 1 in 5 females, an incredible ratio.

On the sales front, Singapore contributed $5.5 million of the $15 million in total mobile sales - a 37 per cent slice of a pie shared with Qoo10's markets in Japan, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Malaysia.

The Singapore market might do only 25,000 daily transactions on average, but it spends far above its weight. Taking into the consideration the national populations, Qoo10 Singapore holds the highest ratio of sales to country size.

The Singaporean dedication to shopping manifests itself in the activity on marketplaces and discussions among fellow shoppers. One particular blouse, for instance, generated more than 80,000 photo reviews on its own.

Pinterest has transformed the way that people view shopping items in Singapore and the way that people share what they view and act upon it.

In a recent survey 70% of respondents said that they turn to Pinterest to get inspiration on what to buy, with just 17% saying they used Facebook for that. Their app is one of the most popular in Singapore.

Singapore M commerce is expected to be worth S$3Billion by 2015. Currently half of all online shoppers are mobile shoppers, according to a Forrester survey and that is growing exponentially. Almost a million Singaporeans made a purchase through a mobile device in 2011 according to the survey and that number is growing dramatically in 2012.

Interestingly Singaporeans spent a third more from their tablets than they do on their mobile and they spend on more luxurious items on their tablets such as technology and cars. This suggest that tablet purchases are not on the go and are more thought through.

Where do Singaporeans use their mobile to shop? 40% say home, then 18% say the office followed by the MRT and bus.

Singaporean smartphone users spend most on fashion (as the example of Q0010 above demonstrates) followed by airline tickets and cinema tickets, books, apps and food and drink come next. 

Interestingly Golden Village have just announced that they will be using QR codes to not only buy cinema tickets but allow access to people into films through QR code technology enabled gates. They are rolling out a fully automated mobile controlled cinema at the new City Square GV in December. 

This is partly an answer to manpower shortages and partly a more effective and efficient way of managing cinema goers and cutting queues as well as costs.

I expect other leisure brands are looking at the success of this to see whether they too could replace people with QR codes. That would really put the cat amongst the foreigner preventing employer regulation pigeons! No need to employ anyone if everything is controlled by mobile and QR codes! 

Golden Village are even introducing ipads for remaining staff to control lighting and air conditioning in what is the first use of such QR technology in Asia by a cinema.

QR codes are recognized everywhere  in Singapore. Virtually half of Singaporeans are aware of them (you would have to be blind to miss them on most retail outlets and most posters and print ads) and half of those have used QR codes for at least 8 transactions usually on books, fashion and computer hardware items.   

PayPal’s QR code advertising campaign with SMRT which ran from February to April 2012 drove a 5% customer conversion rate, three times higher than a direct email response rate. 

Showbiz Asia saw huge mobile sales success by offering one for one tickets for Wicked to Singaporean commuters via the same PayPal SMRT QR code campaign which resulted in a five times increase in mobile ticket sales through PayPal as compared to sales for the same period pre campaign.

In a different general survey by Google and Sterling Research in 2012 67% of mobile users are more likely to buy a product or use a service on a mobile optimized site. 79% of these visitors will turn to competitors if your site isn’t mobile friendly.

Ironically 45% of the Fortune 500 companies do not have mobile optimized sites according to the IAB Survey in June this year. This is both an opportunity for their competitors and an opportunity for them to move fast before it's too late.

Other brands in Singapore that are ahead the mobile game include DBS who in a recent global survey were found to have the 4th best banking apps in the world .

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.

Chris Reed

Chris Reed

Chris Reed has 25 years of senior marketing experience on both the client and agency side in the UK and now in Asia Pacific. He is the CEO and founder of Black Marketing.

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Tags: singapore mobile and commerce marketing, chris reed, singapore M commerce

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