SINGAPORE: With both local and regional consumers increasingly buying luxury goods online, homegrown e-retailer Reebonz on Tuesday (May 30) opened an eight-storey e-commerce hub in Tampines to ramp up its cross-border operations and meet the evolving demands of their customers.
“The Reebonz e-commerce hub will be a platform for us to scale across the region in terms of having a centralised distribution centre that will distribute our products across 17 countries around the world,” said Reebonz CEO Samuel Lim. “We’ve invested heavily into warehouse management systems, distribution management systems, being able to integrate the whole operations within one central location - I think that’s important to scale.”
The 200,000-square-foot space, which cost around S$40 million to build, is four times larger than its previous office and distribution centre and now stock more than 500,000 types of products - more than 11 times its previous capacity.
Reebonz also plans to house an incubation hub for local luxury startups and designers in future.
Speaking at the official opening of the hub, Minister of Trade and Industry (Industry) S Iswaran said players like Reebonz serve as “shared platforms that uplift the entire retail sector”.
“Smaller companies might be reluctant to start due to lack of scale or technical skills,” he said. “Others may face challenges in reaching out to new customers and coordinating processes for e-commerce fulfilment.
“Here, players like Reebonz can serve as shared platforms that uplift the entire retail sector. Smaller companies can leverage e-marketplaces like ‘Reebonz Boutiques’ to list their products, which requires less resources than a standalone platform and eases access to global markets.”
He also highlighted how Reebonz’s e-marketplace has emerged as an online incubation space for emerging designers and local entrepreneurs.
“Emerging designers and local entrepreneurs have a simple, less risky space to refine their branding and test new products,” he said. “I urge more local brands to take advantage of such platforms to scale up and enter new markets.”
Since its launch eight years ago, the local brand has expanded its sourcing channels from distributors to individual sellers and boutiques around the world.
The business-to-consumer retailer branched out to a consumer-to-consumer platform and a merchants' marketplace last year, allowing consumers to buy and sell pre-loved items to others and giving consumers access to products from boutiques around the world.
"It definitely helps to have a space where we can tap into the larger clientele base that Reebonz obviously has," said shoe designer Mashizan Masjum, whose eponymous shoe label joined its marketplace platform in April.
“As part of an emerging brand, it can be quite lonely at times as well as you’re trying to make a name for yourself regionally and globally."
Mr Iswaran said that the Government would help local retailers tap growth opportunities on the e-commerce front, as part of the Retail Industry Transformation Map's target to grow e-commerce’s share of total retail receipts from 3 per cent to 10 per cent by 2020.
This includes helping companies to enter foreign markets through e-commerce platforms and prioritising initiatives relating to the digital economy.
"E-commerce is going to be a defining aspect of the retail industry in Singapore, the region and the world,” he said. “So we want to make sure that our companies have the capabilities to embrace this trend, ride on its growth and benefit from it. Which means capabilities in terms of the technology, business model and market access.
“And on the other side, we want to make sure that our people have the skills to participate in the new job functions and careers that are being created."
According to Mr Iswaran, an estimated one in every five sales in the Asia Pacific would be conducted through an e-commerce platform, while an estimated 3.9 million users - or nearly three-quarters of residents in Singapore - will turn to e-commerce by 2020.