Top 5 Singapore Business Directories in 2020
A business directory primarily organises and indexes business/company information before presenting it to the users in listing form.
Fundamentally, a useful business directory possesses vital attributes such as localisation of content, good depth and breadth of company coverage, quality user UI/UX, among other features which we will examine further.
Here is the list of top 5 Singapore business directories:
1. The Grid
Beyond a directory, The Grid is a tech-driven company intelligence platform that covers the universe of 500,000 live companies in Singapore, across 1,000+ industries. It has an enterprise-grade filter function that allows you to discover a comprehensive yet refined list of companies by combining a wide range of parameters. The parameters include company size, headquarter, company age, company type, industry, products/services, building name, postal code etc.
The Grid strikes the right balance by collating information from government agencies, publicly available information such as the internet as well as crowd intelligence (submissions from businesses themselves). Leveraging on data science, The Grid shows company profiles with actionable data such as critical decision-makers, contact details, competitors, market presence, spending power etc.
The Grid is excellent for B2B use, such as sales prospecting, lead generation, vendor sourcing, market research and strategic planning.Visit Website →
2. Yellow Pages
Yellow Pages is synonymous with business directory due to its publication of the iconic thick phone book. Of course, as part of its restructuring process, Yellow Pages have ceased producing print directories, and its core business is now real estate.
Rebranded as “YP”, the digital version of the directory is still available for the public. Built upon its long history of operation since 1968, YP has a database of 150,000 companies featuring on its website. It remains one of the most visited websites for Singapore company searches, covering 20+ main categories such as Agriculture & Livestock, Beauty, Health & Medical, Fashion & Textile, Marine, Oil & Gas and Packing & Logistics.
Interestingly, beyond being a business directory, YP now offers a wide range of digital solutions, including Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Search Engine Marketing, Web Design, Social Media Marketing.Visit Website →
After more than 20 years in operation, Streetdirectory is another veteran in the business directory domain.
Its positioning is more consumer-centric (Trip Advisoresque) as opposed to B2B. As a result, its business listing coverage appears to have a stronger emphasis on consumer businesses like Restaurant, Travel, Education, Home Services, Lifestyle etc. It is also one of the few operators out there that offers building directory.
Streetdirectory is recognised for its location-based features, determined to make geographic data a centrepiece of its product strategy. Apart from an interactive map-based search engine, it also has a mobile app that helps users to check directions, business arrival timings, live traffic cams, taxi rates etc., in many respects, it shares similar traits as Google Map.Visit Website →
4. SGP Business
SGP Business started in 2015, and it is a minimalist directory with a pretty exhaustive listing of Singapore companies. With more than 150 categories being covered, not only can users discover businesses within traditional verticals such as Car Dealers, Corporate Branding, Electrical Services, Hardware Stores, the directory is also useful to locate players within some of the newer segments such as Co-working Space, Cryptocurrencies, e-Commerce Fulfilment Company, and Fintech.
While there is no fancy interface (very much text-based), the website is very well thought of where the content and data are interlinked, seamlessly navigating users through different pages of business information.
Apart from Singapore, SGP Business also has a network of other online directories that list businesses in countries such as Australia, Canada, UK and Hong Kong.Visit Website →
5. Times Business Directory
Times Business Directory is a leader in publishing niche industry directories. It has a strong B2B focus, covering more than 600 categories/industries, including Agriculture, Freight, Banking & Finance, Chemicals, Electronics.
In total, the directory has aggregated over 9,000 company profiles, including SME, MNC and public listed companies. While its company database may not be exhaustive as others, Times makes it up by offering excellent depth of information. Beyond the usual contact details, the listing may touch on particulars such as Clientele, Awards/Qualification, Products & Services and Brand.
You may request to list your business on the directory by submitting an online form. However, it is stated your submission is subject to qualification and approval, which provides an extra layer of assurance over the integrity of the data and listing.
Times Business Directory is run by Marshall Cavendish Business Information, a member of Times Publishing Group, one of Asia’s largest publishing and printing conglomerates.Visit Website →
Another noteworthy directory is The Greenbook, operated by Promedia Directories Pte Ltd. At the time of writing, we initially included The Greenbook in a “Top 6” list, however, we were unable to get access to its website despite multiple attempts, so we are not entirely sure if the directory is still active. The Greenbook is a local directory with a long history (close to 30 years of operation). Its listing is geared towards the coverage of Industrial and Commercial businesses. While its user interface may not look the most modern, it is packed with useful information such as the detailed listing of the companies’ products, countries of operations etc.
Here are some of the key factors that define a good Singapore business directory:
The keyword “Singapore” suggests that “localisation” is arguably the most important criterion when it comes to determining the best Singapore business directories. Unfortunately, directories that boast about global coverage typically prove to be much less useful in a local context (e.g. lead generation). While sites like Yelp and Thumbstack are very popular in the US, their coverage of Singapore companies is poor. The top 5 players mentioned above all operate in Singapore, which gives them an edge in terms of grasping local nuances.
According to the official stats published by ACRA (Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority), Singapore has a universe of 500,000+ live entities, mainly made up of 340,000+ companies, 130,000+ sole proprietors and 30,000 of other entity types (e.g. partnerships).
Any directories that claim to cover more than half a million Singapore companies either have duplicate records in their databases or an outdated listing where they fail to update companies that have been struck-off/deregistered.
Conversely, any directories with a significantly lower coverage may indicate that their company database is not comprehensive enough. It is usually a common problem for directories that solely rely on voluntary submissions from businesses.
As users/visitors are getting more tech-savvy and demanding, merely presenting basic information such as address and phone number of a business may no longer be enough. Such information can be easily found through a business’s website; in most cases, a simple Google search will suffice.
A useful business directory functions more like a company database/intelligence platform these days, delivering rich company data and actionable insights that fit the users’ needs. Aggregating information of a specific company from different sources is a good start so that a user does not have to spend too much time scouring.
Directories are going through digital disruption, with the emergence of new technologies. Operators that tap on Web Crawling, ETL (Extract-Transform-Load), NLP (Natural Language Processing) and Machine Learning can develop an edge, enabling users to refine their search and generate a relevant list of target companies with advanced yet user-friendly functionality.
As we discussed above, gone are the days when people rely on business directories to lookup an address or a general phone number of a specific company. Many users mainly use company databases/directories for “discovery” purposes, helping them to identify businesses that fit certain profiles and that they otherwise wouldn’t know. It is where directories with good search engines can deliver value.
Other useful online resources can provide you with a list of companies in a specific domain/industry
Singapore Food Manufacturers’ Association
As the name suggests, the directory is maintained by The Singapore Food Manufacturers’ Association (SFMA), a professional trade association with more than 40 years of history. Its member directory is open to the public, where you can look up information of the 400 members. Users could also search for a company by various food categories such as Bird’s Nest, Bakkwa, Halal Food (reiterate the importance of localisation).Visit Website →
BCA (Building and Construction Authority)
With more than 20 years of operation, The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) is a statutory board under the Ministry of National Development. The company profile within the directory is relatively brief; however, the directory encompasses several search criteria that are Construction-specific, such as license type, work heads and construction categories.Visit Website →
Tech In Asia
Tech In Asia is a media company that focuses on the news coverage of tech start-ups in Asia. It is also well known for its tech conferences and events across Asia. Given the nature of tech start-ups, Tech In Asia’s directory has a stronger emphasis on funding data, where you can filter companies by their funding stages.Visit Website →
E27, operated by Optimatic Pte Ltd, is another popular SG-based media company that immerses itself in the startup community. Apart from publishing news, e27 is active in organising conferences and events too, with Echelon being its flagship event. Both e27 and Tech In Asia have similar directories in terms of functionality as well as the coverage of Singapore’s start-ups (approx. 5,000 companies).Visit Website →
Financial Institutions (e.g. Banks, Funds, Insurance):
MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore)
MAS is essentially the regulatory body within Singapore’s financial industry. Similar to BCA, the company profiles within MAS’s directory is rather brief. However, the financial institutions can be broken down into a detailed list of licence types such as Registered Fund Management Company, Wholesale Bank, Merchant Bank, Registered Insurance Broker, Reinsurer (General), Money-changing Licensee and many others. About 3,000 financial institutions can be found on the website.Visit Website →
Facebook and LinkedIn, though predominantly recognised as global social media platforms, have excellent databases of local business records and company info. In fact, we foresee a trend where more business directories would be moving away from the traditional model by incorporating some degree of social media elements to improve the stickiness of the users and depth of info.
If you are going through an exercise of generating a comprehensive list of companies in Singapore and determined not to miss out any major local business directories, here are some listing-driven websites that could be helpful:
Other Singapore Business Directories
The list is updated as of April 2020.
Disclaimer: as we have not done any detailed analysis on these listings, we can’t vouch for their quality.
1. Compiling a list of companies in Singapore for B2B lead generation and prospect/customer discovery
Lead generation is essential for any business, regardless if they are well established or a start-up. A comprehensive Singapore company database will be a great starting point. With Account-Based-Marketing (ABM) gaining prominence, you will be able to build a target list of companies based on specific segmental info and Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).
Statistically speaking, only 22% of the companies are satisfied with their sales conversation rates. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as many of them actually adopt a “spray-and-pray” approach. While we salute your effort to cold call every single company from an alphabetical listing of “A-Z”, that’s unlikely to yield a high ROI considering the time cost, not to mention the mental burnout. A quality and refined list of companies is an essential part of lead generation, as it enables you to focus your sales effort and reach out to the relevant targets. At a superficial level, many sales/marketing personnel use criteria such as Industry, Headcount for target screening and list building. As we embrace the new age of marketing, attention is now shifted to leveraging signals (e.g. corporate spending power) and event-driven indicators (e.g. recent funding) for better prospecting to generate higher ROI.
A random or ad-hoc lead generation approach would be more time consuming and less fruitful. As such, it is worth checking that you have the best tool/resource before you start your lead generation exercise.
2. Compiling a list of companies in Singapore for vendor/supplier sourcing
All businesses will require vendors/suppliers to some extent. It may be for raw materials, general office supplies, software or other corporate services/solutions. Managing costs is a crucial part of running any business, so it is advisable to do your research on the suppliers and know your options to avoid any buyer’s remorse. Remember, you are looking for the best or most appropriate products, which may not necessarily be the cheapest. Knowing where to search can be tricky, especially if it is something that is either new or rarely purchased. Staggeringly, companies are spending 45% of their time on independent research during the procurement process, and the hours are rising each year. It is where a business directory in Singapore can come incredibly useful.
As with lead generation, it is worth taking the time to check that you have the best list of companies in Singapore available and explore your options. You should know precisely what you are looking for so you can make like for like comparisons, but it may also give you an indication of some not so apparent suppliers who might turn out to be the best.
Some people argue that one should rely on “word of mouth” for vendor sourcing/selection. While we agree that referrals from trusted parties are valuable, you should also be cautious about the possibility of biases due to the small sample size of referrals. Individual experience may differ significantly from one another. Having the right information available to you at the outset is essential and will once again save a lot of time and potentially money.
3. Profiling of the company
There are many reasons why you may wish to run a profile on another organisation.
For example, you may be looking to do business with a potential vendor/supplier. Information may be scarce, especially when your counterpart is an SME without a strong web presence. This makes due diligence and research more challenging. While many directories could only share superficial info about these SMEs, the good ones offer insights such as the company size, legitimacy (official registration), credentials, operation status, related news etc.
We are seeing an interesting trend where more and more millennials are involved in B2B purchasing decisions (73%, according to Forrester). These digital natives are much more research-driven. They want control over information, and they are typically sceptical about vendor’s sales pitch and representation. As a result, they are always looking for independent sources for vendor profiling and research; that’s where a good company database can be valuable.
On the other hand, if you are carrying out the function of sales/marketing, company profiling is essential too. As a start, it helps you to qualify leads by weeding out poor fits. Ironically, more than half of the initial prospects are deemed wrong fits eventually.
Getting hold of the contact information of key decision-makers is equally crucial. Speaking to employees who are not decision-makers or someone in the wrong department is unlikely to wield anything productive, and the chances of the right person calling you back are also relatively slim. You must get in contact with the right person the first time, and a comprehensive business directory can be your most crucial tool.
4. Improving your business’s brand awareness and visibility
Every company must promote itself, and this involves increasing its brand awareness. You may have the most impressive website in your industry, but if no one ever sees it, it is almost useless. Engaging in a bidding war with your competitors for Google Ads? You may very well end up with a bleeding pocket.
A top business directory in Singapore will inevitably have far higher volumes of traffic than a single website. It is therefore vital that you have a strong presence on these sites as in effect, these listings will act as signposts and roads to your website. Speaking of lead generation, this can be a cost-effective channel for inbound leads.
In addition, by merely having a presence on the site, you are building people’s awareness of your brand subconsciously. The visitor may be searching for something entirely different but notice your brand. While they may not act upon this immediately, it may be something that they refer back.
The top directories in Singapore will rank highly on Google and not just for one sector, but a wide range of industries. If your business is listed in the directory, then it will immediately be evident to the person searching.
5. Link building to improve your SEO
In the modern business environment, it is essential that you not only have a website but have a website which performs well. As we touched upon, this means ranking highly on the leading search engines, predominantly Google. Some companies can help you with your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), which is essentially getting your website to rank higher. One of the fundamental techniques that they use is building high quality, relevant links, and one of the most effective ways is via a reputable business directory.
You should list your business on several leading business directories in Singapore as this will have two-fold benefits. Firstly, you will be building high-quality links to your site from an established index – something which will be viewed favourably by Google, but secondly, you will have got a practical and incredibly useful listing which will be available to other businesses. It is something which will help your organic SEO, something which will have long-term benefits and provide natural signposts to your site.
However, we should stress that you should only link your website to quality directories as low-quality links can have a detrimental effect on the performance of your site. Make sure you conduct adequate research.
Some people argue that a business directory is a “sunset” solution. Well, that depends. Technically speaking, Booking.com is a listing of hotels, you wouldn’t call it “sunset”, would you? In fact, Google itself is a directory of web pages, and LinkedIn is a directory of working professionals.
“Substance” is more important than “form”. In this digital age, we anticipate business directories to embrace technology, evolve and reinvent themselves. They will continue to play an essential role in the world of business, just that it may not be in the form that you associate it with traditionally.