The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly accelerated the shift to eCommerce in Singapore with 74 per cent of consumers shopping more frequently online, according to the Visa Consumer Payment Attitudes Study. One-third of Singaporeans (31%) shopped online for the first time during the pandemic, making purchases via websites or mobile applications. This reflects a wider shift towards digital-first experiences in light of new habits formed during nationwide lockdowns, safe-distancing measures, and personal safety concerns.
With many turning to the internet for their purchases, more than half of Singaporeans (52%) shopped less frequently in physical stores. In contrast, home delivery has seen a significant rise during the pandemic, with seven in 10 Singaporeans (71%) using home delivery more frequently and one in four (25%) using home delivery for the first time.
Almost half of the consumers are also more inclined to shop from large online marketplaces now, while nearly a third are shopping more frequently from local businesses (31%) and home-based businesses (31%). These new shopping preferences might even turn into habits that last beyond the pandemic. One in five Singaporean consumers (20%) expect to continue shopping at large online marketplaces after the pandemic ends, and more than one in 10 Singaporean consumers expect shopping from home-based businesses (14%) and local businesses (10%) to become post-pandemic habits.
“We have observed the increased demand for digital-first experiences, as many Singaporeans turn to safer, more convenient and intuitive shopping experiences, powered by innovation and technology. Since the onset of COVID-19, people have changed the way they shop and pay and these changes are unlikely to reverse, even as a vaccine becomes more widely available. We see more first-timers shopping on eCommerce, more companies going digital and this trend is likely to stay. Visa has been actively helping businesses and organisations of all sizes, adapt to new and lasting consumer habits in digital commerce,” Kunal Chatterjee, Visa Country Manager for Singapore & Brunei, said.
Beyond online websites and mobile applications, there has also been a rise in the use of other digital shopping channels in Singapore. Nearly half of Singaporean consumers (49%) shop more frequently via proximity stores — direct delivery to their homes after ordering by phone — with one in four (25%) doing so for the first time during the pandemic. Meanwhile, two in five Singaporeans (41%) shop more frequently via social media channels, and one in five of them are first time social media shoppers.
Based on the study, many consumers have postponed or reduced spending on international travel (67%), out-of-home entertainment (63%) and luxury items (59%) and fine-dining (57%). Despite being the most affected segment, spending on international travel is likely to have the quickest recovery after the pandemic, with nearly three in five Singaporeans (59%) indicating they will be spending on international travel once borders are lifted.
 The Visa Consumer Payment Attitudes Study was conducted in September 2020 by CLEAR with 1,000 Singaporeans aged 18-65 years of age. This is part of a regional research project conducted in Southeast Asia on over 7,500 consumers across eight markets.