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Should you sell online on Shopee, Lazada, Facebook or Shopify? Here's a 5 min comparison guide to help you get started

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, businesses have moved to selling online and consumers have turned to e-commerce ...


Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, businesses have moved to selling online and consumers have turned to e-commerce platforms like Shopee, Lazada and even Facebook to cope in the midst of lockdowns. Whether you are a B2C or B2B business, the advantages of joining an online marketplace are clear.

In the e-Conomy SEA 2020 report by Google, Temasek and Bain and Co, the internet economy is projected to be worth over US$300 billion by 2025. In addition, the number of consumers who bought groceries online doubled in 2020 and this looks set to continue, with 8 in 10 sharing that they intend to continue buying online even after the pandemic. 

Read on to find out how you can enter the e-commerce space with an online platform that is best suited for you. 

Featured image_e-commerce platform comparison (23 Apr)

Comparing the features of Shopee, Lazada, Facebook Shop and Shopify

1. User base

Platform User base
Shopee Marketplace Web visits in March 2021 (in millions):
  • Singapore: 11.91 
  • Malaysia: 48.29
  • Thailand: 51.60
  • Indonesia: 130.23
(Source: SimilarWeb)
Lazada Marketplace Web visits in March 2021 (in millions):
  • Singapore: 7.89 
  • Malaysia: 13.71
  • Thailand: 35.48
  • Indonesia: 32.41
(Source: SimilarWeb)
Facebook Shop 2.74 billion active monthly users worldwide in 2021

Estimated active users by country (in millions):
  • Singapore: 4.88
  • Malaysia: 25.95
  • Thailand: 54.57
  • Indonesia: 140
(Source: Statista)
Shopify Traffic varies from shop to shop

2. Ease of use (Product listing)

Platform Ease of use (Product listing)
Shopee Marketplace Beginner friendly user interface; list items directly using Seller Assistant (app) or Seller Centre (web)
Lazada Marketplace New sellers may take some time to get used to the site functionality; separate seller app and site required to list items
Facebook Shop Beginner friendly user interface; list items using Commerce Manager on your business page either:
  • manually,
  • in bulk using Excel; or
  • import data from your website using Facebook pixel
Shopify Free professional templates available, however highly-customised themes may require a developer; list items directly on Product page

3. Fees

Platform Fees
Shopee Marketplace
  • Transaction fees of 2%
  • Optional service fees ranges from 2% - 5%
Lazada Marketplace Transaction fees of 2%
Facebook Shop Free
Shopify
  • Payment fees of 0.5-2%
  • Monthly subscription fees of from US$29
  • Add-on Cost of Shopify Apps

4. Payment cycle

Platform Payment cycle
Shopee Marketplace Earnings credited into Seller Wallet once a transaction is completed, and can be withdrawn into seller’s bank account
Lazada Marketplace Payment released every Monday for preceding week’s sales, into seller’s bank account
Facebook Shop Depends on seller’s choice of payment gateway; Facebook Shop does not support in-app transactions
Shopify If using Shopify Payments, earnings are credited daily into seller’s bank account

5. Shipping and delivery

Platform Shipping and delivery
Shopee Marketplace Integrated logistics partners for SG and MY, including:
Shipping fees vary for sellers; fixed price for customers.
Lazada Marketplace Integrated logistics partners for SG and MY, including:
Shipping fees vary for sellers; fixed rates for sellers (SG only).
Facebook Shop Managed by seller
Shopify Integrated logistics partners with Shopify Fulfillment Network; or local couriers like Ninja Van and Aramex through the EasyShip app

6. Seller support

Platform Seller support
Shopee Marketplace Offers help through:
  • Seller Education Hub
  • Phone
  • Email
Lazada Marketplace Offers help through:
  • Lazada Seller Centre
  • 24/7 virtual assistant
  • Live chat services
Facebook Shop Offers help through:
  • Facebook Help Centre
Shopify Offers help through:
  • Shopify Help Centre
  • 24/7 phone support
  • Live chat services

 

Different strokes for different folks - ultimately, the best platform is one that meets your needs

For brand owners: 

  • If branding and reputation is critical, go for Shopify - Shopify is a good choice as it not only offers brands more flexibility in the look and feel of their online store, but also greater control on store features and service standards to create a consistent customer experience.

  • If you are looking to increase website traffic, link your online store to Facebook Shop - this allows you to reach a wider pool audience on social media. It is relatively easy to set up a Facebook Shop, which can be integrated with Messenger and scaled to Instagram as well. It is free and more importantly, an extra touchpoint for customers to engage with your brand. 

  • If you want to scale, consider joining Shopee Mall or LazMall - Shopee Mall and LazMall are essentially “premium upgrades” on the Shopee and Lazada marketplaces which are reserved for brand owners and authorised distributors. This allows you to demonstrate that your brand is trusted and authentic, in turn helping you gain additional exposure and drive sales.

For manufacturers looking to sell directly to consumers:

  • Consider high volume marketplaces and focus on being a differentiator - marketplaces such as Lazada or Shopee are good low cost options that will allow you to test the market. However, marketplaces are saturated with sellers, so consider selling high demand items that are different from what others are offering. Be prepared to invest in marketing to get a jump start and stand out from the competition. Besides in-app advertisements, participating in sales events or free shipping and cashback programs are also good ways to get noticed.

For small business owners:

  • If you are looking to start a small online business, marketplaces like Lazada and Shopee are great options. Having said that, avoid jumping into it and expecting immediate success. Research about the existing businesses across platforms, who your competitors and audiences are, as well as consumers’ needs and buying behavior, in order to determine what the opportunities are and how you can seize it.

shopify-homepage-unsplash-cropped(Photo by Roberto Cortese on Unsplash)

 

Consider the platforms as complementary instead of separate channels

To summarise it all, here are the three main takeaways: 

  1. Start from your business objective. Ultimately it is not about a singular choice, but putting together a package of one or more platforms to best achieve your goals. 
  2. Leverage on the marketplace ecosystem. Use the smaller initial investment to test new markets and buyer demands before committing to heavier resource options.
  3. Benchmark your competitors and see where they are - they should give you inspirations on how to approach all distribution channels.

When you are ready to proceed, conduct your own market sizing and look for reliable suppliers that you can work with. Trustana links you up with pre-screened suppliers and enables you to go-to-market quickly with the availability of local stock. 

If you need advice and assistance on operations, marketing or customer service, you may also consider engaging service providers such as Aladdin and AsiaECS to help you through the initial phase.

 

 

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