SME Loans

Why Now Is the Best Time for Singaporean SMEs To Embrace Tech

The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly influenced the way companies operate due to the sudden changes in consumer behaviour and economic decline. Small companies that have gotten hit harder should consider a few changes to weather the storm.

Unlike multinational companies (MNC), who typically have deep pockets that help them weather the storm, small companies have had to get creative to survive the current economic climate. One such way they’ve done this is by embracing technologies and digital transformation to service customers who are demanding fast, intuitive, and seamless services. For businesses that want to hop on the digital bandwagon, we discuss two ways on how to get started and why now is the best time to do so.

1. Gain Competitive Advantage With Digital Marketing

First, like any type of marketing, the purpose of digital marketing is to connect a business to its potential customers. With an increasing number of people turning their attention online for product search and reviews, running a business without an online presence can be a big mistake. Some of the most common digital marketing strategies that businesses can adopt to reach their target audience include creating a well-executed website that is search engine optimised (SEO), providing regular updates on social media platforms (such as Instagram, Youtube or Facebook), and sharing online materials (such as videos, blogs, and eBooks).

The goal of SEO and social media optimatisation is to help increase visibility to your company. Good SEO will help you you rank higher on Google, which increases the number of people who see your company and visit your website. Social media marketing does the same thing, but also helps you interact with current and potential customers on a more personal level.

2. Create an E-Commerce Presence to Boost Sales

Reportedly, the global ecommerce expenses reached S$4.73 trillion in 2019, and it will be no surprise if this number continues to trend upwards since the Covid-19 pandemic is keeping many home-bound and shopping online seems to be the most viable solution.

For small retailers that want to survive the uncertainty of this pandemic, embracing e-commerce to diversify revenue streams is a quick fix that is unavoidable. Since the Circuit Breaker, many local retailers have partnered up with online malls such as Lazada and Shopee to ensure business continuity. Many restaurants and hawkers have also quickly tied up with food delivery platforms like FoodPanda, GrabFood and Deliveroo to reach customers who are choosing to dine at home.

This table shows a few e-commerce websites that SMEs can join to sell their goods as well as fees and commissions they'll owe to the platform

Additionally, with several grants that are offered by the Singapore government to help small businesses "Go Digital", many SMEs are choosing to establish their own e-commerce shops to market their products and process orders.

Embracing Digital Initiatives Can Help With Government Grants

As an effort to help small business make the most of digital technologies to improve operations and generate new revenue, the Singapore government is offering several grant packages:

E-Commerce Booster Package

The E-commerce Booster Package is a comprehensive package that comprises three programmes designed to help small businesses that are new to, or have little experience in, e-commerce to diversify their revenue streams and enhance digital marketing capabilities and increase brand awareness. Eligible retailers are also entitled to 90 percent of cost funding (up to S$9,000).

The programmes provide a variety of support for local retailers who are targeting the local and overseas markets. Besides subsidies, these programmes also match-make retailers to solution providers who can help to open up new channels for business expansion. Additionally, retailers can also apply for the Digital Marketing Programme to work with an approved digital marketing partner to execute at least one digital marketing campaign and receive a one-time funding of up to 90 percent of the qualifying manpower costs for three months.

Productivity Solution Grant (PSG)

The PSG covers sector-specific solutions for businesses in the retail, food, logistics, precision engineering, construction, and landscaping industries. It also supports initiatives that are related to customer management, data analytics, financial management and inventory tracking. The grant allows companies to receive up to 80 percent of funding support for eligible costs, including pre-scoped solutions like online collaboration tools (such as laptops and Microsoft Office 365), virtual meeting and telephony tools, queue management systems and temperature screening solutions.

Start Digital Pack

This grant was introduced to help small businesses that are new to using digital technology to start their digital journey with the right foundational digital tools. Eligible businesses can take up two digital solutions that run for at least 18 months and the grant will cover the costs for a minimum of six months. The digital solutions that are eligible for this grant include accounting, human resource (HR) management and payroll, digital marketing, digital transactions and cybersecurity.

You'll Also Be Eligible To Receive Bonuses

Another reason to adopt digital initiatives is because Singapore's government is offering cash bonuses to companies that embrace digital solutions. The Digital Resilience Bonus provides additional support to the Food Services and Retail sectors seeking to upgrade their digital capabilities to quickly adapt to Covid-19 safe management practices. This bonus allows eligible businesses to receive pay-out of up to S$10,000 when they adopt the pre-defined categories of digital solutions on top of baseline solutions.

This table shows the digital bonuses retail and food industry SMEs can get by implementing certain types of digital solutions

Stepping up the Digital Efforts

There is no better time to step up the digital effort than now. With the current economic climate and incentives from the government to upgrade, small businesses in Singapore should heed the call for innovation and swiftly embrace the need for digital transformation. While the momentary effort to change may take some getting used to, the strategic move is bound to improve revenue, brand equity and productivity by multifold. If you need additional revenue to set up a digital space, you can consider taking out an SME loan. These are loans specifically created to help you fund your small business needs and can be useful whether you need a large loan or a smaller loan that needs to be disbursed immediately.