Ready to make your first million? Read this guide. J/K, I’m not going to tell you how to get rich quick. But if you’re looking to start your own small business and get some side income in Singapore, you can do so on Carousell, Lazada, Qoo10 and Shopee.
These 4 are the major shopping marketplaces in Singapore that are viable platforms for independent sellers. The best platform depends on the scale of your operations.
Most home businesses will start on Carousell, but it has limitations once you start to scale. You can then transition to Shopee (easy to use, but small user base) or Qoo10 (difficult to use, but there’s a huge audience). Finally, at the top of the ladder is Lazada, the most “professional” seller marketplace of the 4.
Note that this article only covers the basic information for beginners. For more in-depth and anecdotal write-ups and insider tips, peruse first-hand accounts by bloggers SimplyJesMe (comparing all 4 platforms) and The Geek Wallet (Qoo10 only).
Here’s a quick summary of each platform.
|Carousell||Open to everyone
Easy to use
Free to use unless you promote
Have to settle payment & logistics yourself
|Shopee||Free to use (no commission)
Open to everyone
|Must register business to be listed on Shopee Mall (exclusive to top sellers & official brands)
Small reach, new platform
|Qoo10||Open to everyone
Cost-effective and easy to promote your shop
|One-time registration fee of $100 (regular) or $500 (QStore)
Qoo10 takes 12% commission (regular) or 5% (QStore)
Lack of official resources for sellers
Has logistics infrastructure built in (but it costs money)
Good resource centre for sellers
|For registered business only (registration fee $315)
Lazada takes 3% to 9% of your revenue
Selling on Carousell – Snap to Sell
Online marketplace Carousell needs no introduction. It’s probably the biggest among these 4 shopping platforms, which means a massive user base of potential customers. (Even MoneySmart is on Carousell – check us out.)
Then again, it’s not really your typical e-commerce platform. Most sellers are individuals rather than businesses, and anyone can be a seller here. That makes it really easy to start making money, but it also means there’s little distinction between your legitimate online business and some Ah Beng selling car decals.
How to list items on Carousell
Selling on Carousell is the easiest and cheapest compared to the other platforms. Registering for an account is free. And anyone can list items for sale for free too.
Just tap the “+” or “sell” button on the mobile app (or the red “Sell” button on desktop) and you can upload or take up to 4 photos of your item. Fill in the info fields with as much information about the product as possible before you click on the final button to list the item. Don’t worry, you can still edit the listing even after it’s live.
There’s a list of prohibited items here. Beyond those limits, pretty much anything goes on Carousell. People sell cars, property and even bak kwa agent services during Chinese New Year.
Payment and delivery on Carousell
The worst thing about selling on Carousell is that you have to deal via chat and deal with the phenomenon known as “Carouhell“.
The second worst thing is that you need to manually arrange for payment (usually a bank transfer, PayLah or other mobile wallets, or cash) and delivery (mail, courier, meet-up, self-collection). These are time-consuming enough if you’re running a tiny business, but things get downright nightmarish once you scale.
Costs of selling on Carousell
None. Everything mentioned thus far is totally free and Carousell doesn’t take a cut of your sale. That said, if you have a budget, you can purchase “Carousell Coins” and either bump or promote your listing as a surefire way to stand out from the crowd.
Further reading: See Carousell’s selling guide on their blog.
Selling on Shopee with Shopee Seller Centre
Up-and-comer Shopee may not offer the massive reach of its competitors, but it could be worth a try as it’s somewhat like Carousell in terms of seller-friendliness.
It would be a good fit if you are just outgrowing Carousell but don’t want to take the plunge into Lazada or Qoo10 yet. And with bank cards offering aggressive promo codes on Shopee, now might be a good time to ride on that marketing wave.
How to list items on Shopee
Anyone can sell items on Shopee by just registering for an account. Listing items which is very simple and similar to Carousell’s workflow. It can be done through the Shopee app on your phone, even. Note that there’s a list of prohibited items.
If you want to be listed on Shopee Mall (which is for Shopee’s top sellers and official brands), you’ll need to have a registered business in Singapore and be able to provide 15 days return service and free shipping. To sign up, email [email protected] and attach your Business ACRA File in the email.
Payment and delivery on Shopee
Sealing a deal on Shopee is a little complicated as, in addition to the usual “buy now” and “add to cart” functions, there’s also the option for a buyer to chat you up and make an offer. You can choose to accept or reject these offers, just like with Carousell.
Payment is typically made through credit card. Note that Shopee will hang on to the payment until the entire order is fulfilled – the buyer has to acknowledge receipt before you will see the money. Shopee’s default logistics providers are Ninjavan and Singpost, but you can also opt for any other method e.g. self-collection.
Costs of selling on Shopee
Apart from the $315 fee for registering your business with ACRA (if you choose to be listed on Shopee Mall), selling on Shopee is totally free. There’s no registration fee to become a Shopee seller, and more importantly, there’s no commission. So in that sense it’s kind of like Carousell.
However, like with Carousell, you will have to factor in the cost of shipping – which you’ll have to figure out yourself as there’s no logistics infrastructure. Yet.
Selling on Qoo10 with Qoo10 QSM
If you outgrow Shopee and Carousell, you might want to consider setting up a shop on Qoo10 (or Lazada – see below). This online shopping giant has a temptingly large market of users due to its high traffic.
For those who haven’t gotten registered on ACRA, Qoo10 is an option for you as it doesn’t require you to be a registered business. On the flip side of things, the low barrier to entry also means there are a LOT of sellers. So expect stiff competition in this space.
How to list items on Qoo10
You’ll need to register as a Qoo10 seller with either your own account or a new one. You’re forced to buy 10,000 Qcash which effectively means a basic initial fee of $100, but at least you can later use the Q-cash for promotions and such.
Listing items is an awfully tedious affair as Qoo10’s famously messy user interface spills over to the seller back end as well. When you make a sale, Qoo10 will also take a (pretty high!) cut of your revenue too.
One advantage of using Qoo10 is that you can promote your products very easily via sales and daily deals (using the Qcash you bought at the start). These promotions are sort of tacky, but whatever, they seem to deliver results.
Payment and delivery on Qoo10
As with Lazada, users make payment through Qoo10 and the money is funnelled to you after Qoo10 deducts “service fee” (i.e. its cut).
Delivery-wise, similar to how Lazada works with Ninjavan for delivery, with Qoo10 you pretty much have to use Qxpress, which is a bit pricier than Ninjavan. Unlike Lazada, however, Qoo10 doesn’t offer a logistics and delivery solution at the moment.
Costs of selling on Qoo10
Although you “save” a few hundred bucks on not having to register your company, the $100 sign-up fee is a significant startup cost that you’ll have to recoup ASAP. Qoo10 also takes the largest cut of your sales – commission starts at a whopping 12%! However, once you hit a certain scale (high monthly sales volume) you can get Qoo10’s cut reduced to 9%.
Alternatively, you can opt for the QStore option when you sign up. It’s basically an upgraded “membership” for sellers. You have to pay a higher upfront cost of $500 (or more, if you want your own domain) but Qoo10’s commission will be reduced to 5%.
Further reading: The main page for sellers is Qoo10 Sales Manager, but it’s not all that helpful. Google “Qoo10 tutorial” instead as there are lots of unauthorised (but still useful) tutorials and videos out there.
Selling on Lazada with Lazada Seller Center
Lazada has a massive market share in Singapore (and in Southeast Asia) when it comes to online shopping. So you know your home business has made it big on the day you finally register as a Lazada seller.
That’s because Lazada has the most stringent requirements for independent businesses, and it’s also the most professional marketplace (complete with a solid payment and logistics infrastructure) of all 4 options. However, the downside is that it’s a bit more effort-intensive and expensive to sell your stuff on Lazada.
How to list items on Lazada
First, you’ll have to sign up as a seller on Lazada, which is free and almost instantaneous. You are required to have a registered business and have ready stock in Singapore in order to sign up. Lazada will take about 1 week to verify your account so you can start listing items.
Listing items on Lazada is… well, a lot more effort than on Carousell. The good news is the user interface is relatively clean. The bad news is, there are still a lot of fields to fill in. You can see some screenshots of Lazada’s selling back end here.
As with Qoo10, you get the chance to take part in sales and featured deal collections on Lazada. But you need to discount your selling price.
Payment and delivery on Lazada
Customers make payment through Lazada, so no need to faff about with bank transfers and what not, but note that they’ll take a cut of your revenue. For delivery, Lazada sellers will have to use either Singpost or NinjaVan.
If all this is too much hassle for you, you can opt to subscribe to their “Fulfilled by Lazada” service. No, it’s not a term to describe how you feel about your Lazada experience, but a logistics service (warehouse storage, delivery, replenishment) to cut down the logistics manpower needed on your side. But it’ll cost you, obviously. See below for rates.
Costs of selling on Lazada
The biggest start-up cost is registering your business with ACRA, if you haven’t done so already. It’s relatively simple to do and you can complete the procedure online, but it’ll cost $315.
Once you make a sale, be prepared to lose up to 9% (or more, once you factor in GST!) off your deal price because Lazada takes a commission of 1% to 7% (depending on category – it’s reputedly lower for electronics) plus a payment gateway fee of 2%. GST is incurred on these fees too.
For delivery and logistics, the cheap option is to either pay for or pass on the standard delivery fee, from $2.99 per order. If you opt for Fulfilled by Lazada, it’ll cost $3 per cubic metre per day for storage, plus $0.69 to $2.99 handling fee per item, plus GST.
Further reading: Lazada Seller Center compiles all its seller resources including Lazada University, a series of video tutorials.
Would you quit your job to become an online seller? Tell us why or why not in the comments!
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