Guide to Starting an e-Commerce or Digital Business in Singapore

starting ecommerce business

With COVID-19 and the ever increasing costs of maintaining a business, several business owners in Singapore are now taking their businesses online. After all, it is easy to set up shop online, while reducing overhead costs such as rental space. However, not all business owners are familiar with starting an online business. An online business is more than starting a website. It requires extensive planning, monetary investments, commitment and dedication. In this article, we share with you the steps to successfully starting up an e-commerce or online business in Singapore.

Step 1: Research

The minute you go online, you let go of the normal hours of a conventional job. You will have to respond to customers whenever they need you. Before starting on e-commerce, ensure that you have a good business plan that can cater to what your customers need, i.e. your target market. To do this, conduct market research, which will determine your business’ potential. Decide on a few Google keywords to use, and compare the volume of searches between the terms, by geographic locales, and even by how local or global events may affect search popularity.


Step 2: Plan

The next step will be to put your plan on paper, which will guide you for your business venture. This working plan is a blueprint that should include:

  • What you are selling and your suppliers
  • Who you are selling to
  • What you need to spend on and
  • How you are funding your business (cash flow analysis)
  • Who your competitors are
  • How you plan to offer better products or services

Before starting your online business in Singapore, ensure that you are familiar with the various registration processes and tax and legal obligations in Singapore. If you are uncertain of these rules and regulations, consider engaging a corporate services partner.


Step 3: Secure business funds

From registering your business to building your website, the costs can rack up and will make an impact on your cash flow especially if you have limited resources. For financial assistance, consider the following options:

Taking a bank loan is the most straightforward way, though it is not always easy to get full funding unless you have a large collateral to put up. The alternative is to offer some of your company’s shares to investors in exchange for their money. Another way is to tap on the several government schemes and initiatives that make it easy for start-ups and businesses from specific industries to access government funding.


Step 4: Incorporate your business

If you have secured your funds, the next thing to do is to incorporate your business. Business incorporation is a process that requires you to decide on your business structure. Depending on the company structure you choose, it will have a direct impact on your tax and legal obligations. Most entrepreneurs in Singapore choose to incorporate a private limited company due to its various advantages. For expertise on choosing a company structure and company incorporation, consider engaging a professional corporate services provider such as Corporate Services Singapore to help you navigate through regulatory requirements.


Step 5: Build a website

The next step will rely heavily on the type of service or product you are planning to sell online. Pick a website domain name that truly represents your identity and one that will be easily remembered. You will need to get your website hosted on a hosting site that ensures good security and bandwidth. Next, design your website and ensure that it works well to attract returning customers. Your website should also be well-integrated with various payment methods, especially digital ones.


Step 6: Marketing plan

The next step is to spend time developing a marketing plan to raise awareness for your products and services. The best way to draw more traffic to your website is to create good content. Online marketing can also include social media advertising. Social media is also a great way to start understanding the conversations around your business idea. Using the language of your target customers will help drive quality traffic to your site, build a loyal customer base, and increase conversions.

Step 7: Bookkeeping and accounting

Bookkeeping is something that you either have to learn or outsource when running a business. Each day, keep your receipts – which may include receipts when placing an order with your supplier, or buying digital ads. To enjoy the full tax benefit of claiming legitimate business expenses, you need to be able to support them with these receipts. Aside from revenue and expenses, manage your cash flow. Look at your business’ progress and make sense of the data you have compiled by building financial statements.


Step 8: Taxation

Your tax obligations will vary depending on your business’ company structure. If you are self-employed (i.e. you opted to form a sole proprietorship or partnership), you will have to report your business income in your personal income tax return. If you choose to set up a private limited company, it is considered a separate tax entity and will be taxed independently. If you feel burdened by these tax terminologies, get help from a professional accounting services provider such as Corporate Services Singapore to maximise tax deductions.


Engage a One-Stop Corporate Solutions Provider

To simplify your setting up process in Singapore and be effective at governance, consider engaging a one-stop professional corporate services provider that can provide you with all the corporate support you need.

At Corporate Services Singapore, we provide a comprehensive range of services from incorporation to keeping and maintaining statutory books and registers. Besides leaving you with more time and resources to focus on your online business, this ensures that your business never misses a submission or statutory filing.

At Corporate Services Singapore, we help entrepreneurs build their dream e-commerce businesses. Whether you are looking for assistance on company incorporation, accounting or taxation, give us a call at 6602 8286 or email us at to get started today.

Posted in Company Incorporation.