Singapore - Country Commercial Guide
Selling Factors and Techniques

Identifies common practices to be aware of when selling in this market, e.g., whether all sales material need to be in the local language.

Last published date: 2020-09-16

Price, quality and service are the main selling factors in Singapore.  Prospective exporters to Singapore should be aware that competition is strong and that buyers expect good after-sales service.  Selling techniques vary according to the industry or the product involved, but they are comparable to the techniques used in any other sophisticated market.

Trade Promotion & Advertising

There are many specialized trade magazines in Singapore and scores of trade fairs that can be used to promote U.S. goods and services.  The major English-language daily newspapers are The Straits Times and The Business Times.  The major Chinese daily is Lianhe Zaobao.  Leads for local advertising and promotional service agencies can be found via the Singapore Yellowpages.  Major trade fair organizers include Informa, Reed Exhibition Services, Experia Events, and Koelnmesse.

Pricing

Pricing is very competitive.  Major department stores and retail chains offer fixed-price merchandise, while the smaller shops expect buyers to bargain.  Hard bargaining is common in the commercial and industrial sectors as well, where buyers usually want a discount, and vendors inflate their initial offers accordingly.  Credit terms of 30-60-90 days are common.  Buyers will often retain 10% of the sales price for major electronic equipment purchases until the vendor has installed the machine, and it is performing according to specifications.

Typical Product Pricing Structures: Depending on the type of product, importer mark-ups range from 20-40%, while retail mark-ups are often more than 100%.  Industrial goods are brought in by stocking distributors, who add on at least 20% before sale to end-users, or by agents whose commissions generally run about 7-10%.  These mark-ups are approximate, and will vary widely, depending on the product and the contractual relationship in question.

Sales Service/Customer Support

Good sales and customer support are vital in Singapore.  The market is so price competitive that client-focused sales support or customer service can make a big difference.  Singapore distributors respond well to training on new products, and if properly supported by the U.S. manufacturer will do a good job cultivating old customers and developing new ones.

Local Professional Services

Legal Services: A list of service providers can be found at The Law Society of Singapore website.

Accounting and Tax Services: A list of service providers can be found at the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants website.

Principle Business Associations

Singapore Business Federation:

The Singapore Business Federation (SBF) is the apex business chamber that champions the interests of the Singapore business community in trade, investment, and industrial relations.  It represents 21,500 companies, as well as key local and foreign business chambers, that contribute significantly to the Singapore economy.

Its formation was to foster a more comprehensive organization and representation of the business community’s interests in Singapore and abroad.

As the apex business chamber, SBF presents a strong collective voice that:

  • Acts as a bridge between the business community and government in Singapore to create and enhance an environment conductive to business.
  • Represents the business community in bilateral, regional, and multilateral fora for the purposes of promoting trade expansion and business networking in Singapore and abroad
  • Helps companies build competitiveness and resilience through capacity building initiatives and services

As a “Business Voice and Value Creator”, SBF is committed to advocating key issues that impact the Singapore business community, helping enterprises develop capabilities and venture overseas.

American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore:

The American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore (AmCham) is the leading international business association in Singapore, with over 5,000 members representing more than 600 companies.  American companies’ direct investment in Singapore exceeds US$243.7 billion.  Its mission is to promote the interests of AmCham members in Singapore and the region by providing insights, advocacy and connections through its programing and publications.  AmCham represents its members at the highest levels of government in Singapore and Washington, and advocates on policy issues concerning them.

Limitations on Selling US Products and Services

The business limitations are confined primarily to the professional services such as the legal, accounting and tax services, and engineering and architectural services.  Details can be found in the “Investment Climate Statement”.