Lazada launches in its home ground of S'pore

Lazada launches in its home ground of S'pore
Max Bittner, chief executive officer of Lazada, an e-commerce company.

SINGAPORE - E-commerce site Lazada has launched in Singapore, two years after setting up its headquarters here. The dotcom already operates in five other ASEAN countries.

According to a recent study by PayPal, Singapore's e-commerce spend is expected to reach US$4.4 billion (S$5.5 billion) by 2015.

BizIT first reported in February that Lazada was planning to launch here by Q2, with CEO Max Bittner saying in an interview then that the company hopes to be the Amazon.com of Singapore, and wants to move in before its US counterpart does.

Right now, Amazon.com ships to Singapore, but offers free shipping only on some items costing over US$125, and shipping takes 10-14 days on average.

Lazada has set up shipping partnerships with SingPost and logistics player Ta-Q-Bin, and offers free shipping on items, with delivery times of about a day or two.

Speaking at Lazada's launch event last week, Mr Bittner said he hopes that completing the fulfilment piece of the puzzle will pull customers over to Lazada as a top destination, the way US residents see Amazon.com.

Destination site

The company's head honcho said that despite Singapore's relatively mature e-commerce audience, there still isn't a "destination site" such as an Amazon.com, where people head to obtain most consumer goods such as household goods or electronics.

For now, popular sites such as Qoo10.sg and sister site Zalora offer a different experience, he said.

Zalora carries fashion items only, and although Qoo10.sg carries a wider range of goods, the decentralised marketplace acts more like a listing for various sellers' individual shops.

There is no cross-selling of goods, or a central catalogue of items on the site like that found on Amazon.com, and buyers on sites like Qoo10.sg can browse only within individual stores designed by each seller.

Lazada was set up in February 2012, and today operates in Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia.

While it has had its HQ in Singapore from day one, the company has taken this long to launch here because the company was keener on penetrating the region's emerging markets, to catch the growing wave of users coming online.

"It's very different doing e-commerce in developing markets versus developed markets," noted Mr Bittner, on the difference in strategies needed to operate in Singapore compared with its neighbours.

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