Singapore e-commerce players face logistics and delivery challenges


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

To seize future opportunities, companies that sell online must rely on an infrastructure that supports their business, said James Root, senior partner and president of Bain Futures, a global think tank of consultancy firm Bain & Company. .

“Ecommerce platforms need two infrastructures: they need great digital payment. The second thing is they need a great supply chain,” he told CNBC. “And it’s both to handle cross-border products entering a market like Singapore, with fast customs clearance and easy paper processing for it.”

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

“Appropriate market capabilities” are also needed, Root said.

“For example, parcel delivery points close to large housing blocks and very good last mile transportation to get products into the hands of consumers at the speeds we are educating our consumers to start to expect now.” , did he declare. elaborated.

When Singapore imposed a ‘circuit breaker’ or partial lockdown at the height of the Covid-19 crisis last year, it laid bare the delivery and logistics challenges that e-commerce businesses face.

An employee collects orders from the shelves of a warehouse at the new SingPost e-commerce regional logistics center in Singapore on November 1, 2016.

ROSLAN RAHMAN | AFP | Getty Images

“At the end of the day, convenience is everything,” said Vaughan Ryan, general manager of Asia-Pacific e-commerce at NielsenIQ. “It’s the convenience of shopping when I want, where I want. And it’s 24/7. It allows consumers, and especially in Singapore, given our digital mind, to shop more often.

Still, he said: “No one moved fast enough.”

“The consumer has been ahead of the speed of what manufacturers and retailers can do – catch up quickly.”

“There is still a lot of room for improvement in the logistics management of all this. Even in the immediate orders of the motion controller in the circuit breaker – the time slots for ordering online were not available. further improved significantly … but there is still a lot of work to be done in this area, ”said Ryan.

Bridging the gap

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

We are the bridge between the virtual world and the physical world: you buy something online and we make sure it is delivered to your door, in a locker, in a convenience store nearby, ”said Lai Chang Wen, CEO and co-founder of Ninja. Van, a courier service in Southeast Asia.

He said Ninja Van has taken to social media to help customers track their goods and improve the delivery process to keep up with changing times.

Ninja Van’s fleet of delivery vans.

Ninja Van

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

“We think it’s a new form of tracking, which kind of fits into the way we use our phones, the way we interact these days, where it’s not too intrusive, no one necessarily calls you, ”he said.

Ninja Van is currently working with e-commerce vendors in the city-state to overcome some of the supply disruptions.

“What we see as an opportunity to come over the next few years is this: we deal with a lot of these online sellers, and they import a lot of their products from overseas – we help them deliver. (correctly) to their customers, ”Lai said.

“Could we also help them with their supply chains? This is something that we are working on quite a bit, on how we link the supply chains of all these online sellers,” he said. added.

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


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