Before Lazada and Shopee, many Singaporeans made their purchases online at Qoo10, an e-commerce platform that once reigned in Singapore.
Already in the heyday, the site used to get the most important site as the e-commerce platform that received the most traffic to the website.
However, according to the online shopping aggregator website iPrice, was later dethroned by Lazada in late June 2019.
Here’s a look at Qoo10’s milestones, and how it evolved to become Singapore’s most important e-commerce site before lagging behind new entrants like Shopee and Lazada.
The first days of Qoo10
Qoo10 was founded in 2010 as a subsidiary of Qoo10 Pte. Ltd of Giosis Pte.Ltd. as a joint venture between GMarket founder Ku Young Bae and eBay.
Young Bae he began as an engineer in oil and gas fields, but finally ventured into the e-commerce industry in 2003 to launch the GMarket e-commerce platform in South Korea, as it found that there were no options.
In three years, the group became the fastest growing and most innovative e-commerce company, large enough to be listed on the Nasdaq in the United States.
However, the financial crisis affected and the company was later sold on eBay for about US $ 1.2 billion in 2009. The employer then decided to start Gmarket in Japan and Singapore in 2010, which was later changed to Qoo10 in 2012.
Qoo10 quickly caught the attention of Singapore consumers with products that were previously difficult to connect. Items such as Korean cosmetics and Australian bath towels were easily accessible to Singaporeans.
The company also offered fresh produce and food, long before delivery applications arrived.
According to data from EuromonitorQoo10’s stake in Singapore’s online shopping space quadrupled by 38.2% between 2013 and 2018.
In 2018, Young Bae sold the Japanese Qoo10 business to eBay for an undisclosed sum, which gave the company the finances to expand into Southeast Asia. Since its inception, it has raised US $ 230 million ($ 310 million) from investors.
That year, it also launched a free-to-use e-commerce platform based on QuuBe blockchain to take advantage of the largely non-bank population of Southeast Asia.
In the face of competition
Qoo10 is one of Singapore’s oldest e-commerce platforms, with a three-year lead before its first major competitor enters the market. It gradually faced more intense competition, as new e-commerce sites began to appear in Singapore over the years.
Zalora entered the city-state in 2013, with Lazada the following year. Shopee later entered the market in 2015 and finally Amazon in 2017.
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Despite the arrival of new entrants, Qoo10 comfortably placed first in both desktop and mobile traffic between the third quarter of 2017 and 2019.
This can probably be attributed to the advantage the company had, as Qoo10 had been successfully consolidated in the market before the internet and online shopping revolution took place.
In addition, Qoo10 had introduced several buying models, such as group purchases and auctions, which were new at the time and did not yet offer any other platform.
Group purchases are purchases of consolidated community items which offer consumers the advantage of receiving a discount when multiple people buy the same item, while auctions offer consumers the option to bid for a product.
Because Singaporeans are price conscious buyers, the cost of items plays an important factor when shopping. According to a 2019 article from KrAsia, Qoo10’s daily promotion has led it to gain a competitive edge over Shopee and Lazada when it comes to pricing.
The company also had an efficient cross-border logistics network and a local delivery service that could deliver a package to the customer’s door in just three hours.
How Shopee and Lazada passed Qoo10
Following the launch of Shopee in 2015, it rose rapidly and went from being a new entrant to occupying the crown as the most visited e-commerce platform in Singapore in the second quarter of 2020.
Although both Lazada and Shopee were later introduced to the market, both platforms grew rapidly, ranking first and second in the industry.
They were especially strong when it came to gathering users for their mobile apps and have been constantly competing for monthly active users in their apps since the first quarter of 2018.
Shopee’s success can be largely attributed to its groundbreaking focus on mobile, as it adopted a different strategy at first in launching itself as an app to take advantage of the high mobile penetration rate of Southeast Asia.
The e-commerce giant also predicted that the mobile (not the desktop) would be the main e-commerce battlefield in the future. In addition, app users tend to be more loyal and spend more money per order than web users.
To add to that, both Shopee and Lazada saw great success in the in-app entertainment features.
Lazada launched “Laz Live” in June 2019, which allowed guest vendors and hosts to perform live streaming programs to interact with their users. The same month, Shopee too has released the same feature – Shopee Live: covered the same markets as Lazada and other markets.
In 2019, Lazada managed to gather 5.5 million viewers across the region for “GUESS IT”, a live broadcast program of professional production where popular local personalities invite customers to guess the price of the featured products.
“Brands and sellers not only have more opportunities to attract their customers, but they can also shop while they are entertained. As a result, the platform enjoys more visitors to both the app and the website, “he told Lazada’s spokesman.
Shopee didn’t stop at Shopee Live either. He launched ‘Shopee Quiz’, an interactive gaming program organized by well-known faces of local influencers. To gain more traffic, it gave away Shopee Coins and various products from participating brands, as well as allowing users to invite participants.
Later, he also introduced Shopee Feed, which replicated the “Instagram experience” on Shopee, allowing brands to celebrate gifts and allowing users to comment and “like” posts.
These tactics employed by Shopee and Lazada were key to giving it an edge over Qoo10, providing customers with an incentive to continue visiting the app, while maintaining high engagement percentages.
Although Qoo10 has similar features, it has not been advertised on the same scale as Shopee and Lazada have.
The two e-commerce professionals have also launched marketing campaigns with icons and celebrities much loved by their users.
For example, in 2020, Korean actor Lee Min-ho led the Lazada Shopping 11.11 campaign as its first regional brand ambassador.
Similarly, Shopee’s 9.9 shopping event in 2019 with Cristiano Ronaldo and Baby Shark saw three times as many orders than the previous year.
Last year, the Shopee campaign featured the mascot Phua Chu Kang, with its familiar singular accent while joking with viewers and urging them not to miss the good deals on the campaign’s online and offline channels.
Using these personalities in these viral marketing campaigns is successful in drawing attention to the respective ecommerce platform, while turning ad views into sales.
By contrast, these Qoo10 ads are uncommon, if any.
It will come in fourth place
As of the first quarter of 2021, Qoo10 ranked as the fourth largest e-commerce player in Singapore, based on average quarterly traffic, mobile app ranking, social media followers and number of staff.
As new players entered the market, Qoo10 found that the benefits of its early engines were gradually eroding.
A joint study between Google and Temasek Holdings last year it predicted that SEA’s digital economy will triple in size by 2025, reaching US $ 240 billion. As a key driver of this economy, e-commerce is expected to be valued at US $ 102 billion in gross merchandise also in 2025.
This presents Qoo10 with a wealth of opportunities to expand its e-commerce and market offerings to target Southeast Asia, the fastest-growing Internet region in the world in recent years.
In 2023, mobile commerce in Singapore is expected to become a $ 6.52 billion market. In addition, 75% of Singaporeans aged 18 to 29 use mobile devices to shop online.
Qoo10 can therefore take advantage of its mobile offerings and perhaps follow in the footsteps of Shopee and Lazada to create more interactive features to attract users for longer periods of time.
Because Qoo10 is already known to be a portfolio-tailored platform, it can also take advantage of more sales, auctions and group buying opportunities to reclaim customers.
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