More Singapore consumers are using their smartphones to shop online compared to last year, new figures show.

A study carried out from March to May found the figure was up to 31 per cent from 24 per cent in 2012, putting the Republic ahead of places such as Hong Kong (28 per cent), Malaysia (27 per cent) and Australia (25 per cent).

Research firm Nielsen polled more than 18,700 people in nine Asia Pacific markets. It asked 1,300 respondents here if they had used their handset to make a purchase in the previous month.

More Singaporeans are shopping on their smartphones
More Singaporeans are now shopping on their mobile phones, compared to last year

However, Singapore still falls in third place behind Japan, where almost nine out of 10 respondents shopped online, and South Korea where the total was around two-thirds.

Consumers cited convenience as the main reason for shopping on their mobile device rather than on the computer.

Finance manager Serene Lee, 38, said she frequently buys baby milk powder using a dairy company’s smartphone app.

“It is so convenient and the powder is delivered to my home,” said Ms Lee.

Marketing manager Sylvia Kang, 35, also shops on her mobile phone while on the move. “I don’t have to wait to power up my computer,” she said.

Online retailers backed the survey’s findings.

Deal-a-day site Qoo10 said 40 per cent – or $200,000 – of its daily sales come through its app.

“This figure has been on a steady rise,” said Mr Cho Hyun Wook, its Singapore director.

The Qoo10 app was first launched for the iPhone in November 2011. Another version based on the Android operating system was launched in January last year.

Local online fashion store Zalora said about a quarter of its sales come through mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

This has been achieved in just nine months since it launched its mobile website in January and smartphone app in April.

Zalora South-east Asia managing director Tito Costa expects the majority of its customers to shop via mobile phones within a year.

“I would be surprised if orders via desktops and laptops still form a majority of our sales 12 months from now,” he said.

However pre-school teacher Jasmine Kaur, 28, said she uses her mobile phone only for “window shopping” and prefers to make payments on her computer for goods from a British fashion outlet.

“I would check out via the app, if the app would stop crashing,” said Ms Kaur.

Online payment company PayPal expects mobile spending in Singapore to outstrip traditional computer-based online shopping this year.

The mobile commerce market in Singapore is tipped to grow fivefold to $1.6 billion this year from $328 million in 2011.

Meanwhile, online spending via desktops and laptops is expected to dip from $1 billion in 2011 to $900 million this year as more people switch to shopping on mobile devices.

This article was first run in The Straits Times newspaper on September 14, 2013. For similar stories, go to You will not be able to access the Premium section of The Straits Times website unless you are already a subscriber.