Singapore e-commerce gamers face challenges in logistics and supply

Consumers are flocking to shop online as people want to avoid crowds due to the pandemic, but getting the goods into the buyer’s hands can be a challenge.

To capitalize on future opportunities, companies selling online must build on an infrastructure to support their business, said James Root, senior partner and chairman of Bain Futures, a global think tank at consulting firm Bain & Company.

“Ecommerce platforms need two infrastructures: They need a great digital payment. Second, they need a great supply chain, ”he told CNBC. “And both to manage cross-border products that come into a market like Singapore, to have fast customs clearance and easy paper processing for them.”

Ultimately, convenience is king … It’s the convenience of shopping when I want, where I want. And it’s 24/7.

“Adequate market skills” are also required, said Root.

“For example, parcel delivery locations near the large apartment blocks and very good transport on the last mile to get products into the hands of consumers at the speed we are teaching our consumers to expect now,” he says elaborated.

When Singapore imposed a “breaker” or partial lockdown at the height of the Covid-19 crisis last year, it exposed the delivery and logistics challenges e-commerce companies are facing.

On November 1, 2016, an employee picks up orders from the shelves of a warehouse in the newly opened SingPost Regional eCommerce Logistics Hub in Singapore.

ROSLAN RAHMAN | AFP | Getty Images

“Ultimately, convenience is king,” said Vaughan Ryan, managing director of E-Commerce Asia Pacific at NielsenIQ. “It’s the convenience of shopping when I want, where I want. And it’s available 24/7. This allows consumers to shop more often, especially in Singapore because we’re so digital.”

Still, he said, “Nobody moved fast enough.”

“The consumer has been ahead of the pace manufacturers and retailers can do – and is fast catching up.”

“There is still a lot of room for improvement in the logistical control of the whole thing. Even with the immediate movement control orders in the circuit breaker, the time windows for the actual online order were not available. That has improved a lot … There is a lot to be done in this area, “emphasized Ryan.

Closing the gap

Ninja Van, based in Singapore, is one of the fastest growing last mile logistics companies in Southeast Asia.

We connect the virtual world and the physical world – you buy something online and we make sure it is delivered to your doorstep, in a locker or in a nearby supermarket, “said Lai Chang Wen, CEO and Co-Founder of Ninja Van, a courier company in Southeast Asia.

He said Ninja Van turned to social media to help customers track their goods and improve the delivery process to cope with the changing times.

Ninja Van’s fleet of delivery trucks.

Ninja Van

“What we think is more important today is… the ability for us to interact with you through your favorite chat messenger. Whether Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, you choose it, you subscribe – and we give you real-time updates on where your driver is. “

“We think this is a new form of tracking that fits in with the way we use our phones, how we interact these days, where it’s not too intrusive and no one is necessarily calling you,” he said.

Ninja Van is currently working with ecommerce sellers in the city-state to bring out some of the supply-related disorders.

“What we see as an opportunity over the next few years is, we’re dealing with a lot of these e-commerce sellers, and they import a lot of their goods from overseas – we help them deliver (properly) to their customers,” said Lai .

“Could we help them with their supply chains too? We’re pretty much working on how to bridge the supply chains of all these ecommerce sellers, ”he added.

– Correction: This story has been updated to accurately reflect that Vaughan is Ryan from NielsenIQ.