Understanding Local Shoppers Online Shopping Behaviors & Expectations During & Post Covid-19


This study was conducted by Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) in collaboration with Singapore Retailers Association (SRA) between 19 July and 22 August 2020.

With the use of an online questionnaire, a total of 1,083 responses were received. Eventually, 985 usable ones were analysed, including 60 that were completed via interviews (with the observation of safety measures).

The respondents were predominantly female (58.6%) and below 30 years old (45.2 %).

Shopping Patterns

Among the 985 respondents, 88.0% shopped online during the circuit breaker period while 11.0% did not.

Statistical tests revealed that gender and age did affect whether respondents shopped or did not shop. However, income did not affect online shopping decision; i.e., respondents from different income levels were equally likely to shop online.

Rather unexpectedly among the non-shoppers, the number who were above 50 years old (37.6%) was similar to the number who were below 30 years old (34.2%).

Despite most respondents (66.7%) shopping online more often, many (40.5 %) shopped only once in a few weeks. The minority (4.6%) who shopped almost daily were typically females below 30 years old.

The top two reasons for shopping online during circuit breaker were the need for the items (71.7%) and the availability of promotional deals (64.5%). As many as 42.1% also shopped out of boredom.

For those who did not shop, 53% indicated they already had all that they needed at home while 49.6% preferred shopping at physical stores. Up to 10.3% (almost all above 50 years old) admitted that they did not know how to shop online.

Majority (66.9%) shopped on both local and overseas shops. A small group (16.9%) chose only local shops. An even smaller group (4.5%) selected only overseas shops.

The ‘local’ element was mentioned at least 39 times, embedded in various reasons such as local availability, support of local businesses, and being more inclined to trust local quality.

The top purchased categories were F&B, fashion & apparel, grocery, healthy & beauty and lifestyle products.  F&B was also the top category that was shopped online for the first time (33.5%).

Shoppers had a sense of direction about the choices of shops and categories - they shopped with clarity instead of browsing aimlessly.

Most respondents (81.2%) spent less than $100 for each online transaction. Only 2.3% spent above $500 per transaction, usually for product categories such as education / entertainment, health & beauty, lifestyle and hobby.

When circuit breaker ended, only 9.4% have continued to shop more often. Another 47.8% maintained their shopping frequency while 42.8% had begun to shop online less often.

Shopping Experiences

During the circuit breaker period, the top aspects that respondents were most satisfied with included: easy-to-use website, variety and availability of products.

On the other hand, the top aspects that could be enhanced were known delivery time, exchange / refund and response from customer service.

Expectations & Future Behaviours

With or without circuit breaker, the top aspects that are generally important to shoppers consist of:

  • Price (86.4%).
  • Availability (68.8%).
  • Known delivery time (62.8%).
  • Variety (60.0%).
  • Reviews from other users (58.5%).

Enticements that could motivate more online shopping include:

  • Lower price (74.0%) in the form of cash discount, promotions, vouchers, cash-back and points system, alongside flash sales, hourly sales or bestseller lists.
  • Loyalty rewards (45.4%) such as early preview or subscription plan.
  • Unique products (44.7%) if the items are limited editions, cannot be found in physical stores, and e-retailers take the time to tell the shoppers more.
  • Easier exchange / refund (37.1%) via more efficient procedures.
  • Better customer service (30.7%) that is proactive to improve the level of support and assurance, beyond just recovery for service breakdown.
  • Reminders from merchants (10.8%) that are clear and direct communication, not spams.

Non-shoppers during the circuit breaker period indicated that they will also be enticed to shop more if there are lower prices, loyalty rewards and unique products. In addition, 12.8% of them seemed open to adopting online shopping if they are trained to do so.

Please feel free to reach out to Elise at should you have any queries related to the above survey study!


Organiser:  Singapore Retailers Association and Singapore Institute of Technology

Contact Person:  Elise Lee

Tel:  63600182

Fax:  0