Helping SMEs grow their online business
Singtel, DBS to help SMEs digitalise their operations
Over 60 years ago, Thye Shan Medical Hall was a thriving business serving early migrants in Chinatown.
The third-generation family business now faces the urgent challenge of reaching young customers unfamiliar with traditional Chinese medicine and used to online retail.
They are one of 5,000 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that Singtel and DBS hope to help with digitalising their operations, said both companies yesterday.
Singtel and DBS have also partnered with e-commerce retailer Lazada Singapore to create Singapore's first e-marketplace for SMEs.
The movement - named 99%SME as SMEs make up 99 per cent of all businesses here - was launched three years ago to help SMEs grow their in-store and online business.
More than 2,600 SMEs were enlisted to the 99%SME website last year. They were also provided with free training in e-commerce and cashless payment tools.
Currently, there are 400 businesses which are selling their products on the 99%SME e-marketplace.
SMEs which are not ready for e-commerce can still get listed on the website for free, to have customers directed to their physical store.
Mr Bill Chang, chief executive officer at Singtel, said SMEs cannot be left out of digitalisation, and although these firms acknowledge technology as a game-changer, its potential has not been fully harnessed.
Mr Thomas Chen, 28, whose grandfather started Thye Shan Medical Hall, told The New Paper that they face challenges such as manpower and skills when it comes to going online.
They partnered Nanyang Polytechnic in April to learn about e-commerce, retail analytics and digital marketing solutions.
SMEs which sign up for this receive government subsidies of up to 90 per cent.
Mr Chen, who joined the family business a year ago, said they hope to list some of their products on the 99%SME website and have their own e-commerce site eventually.
He said: "When we opened a store in Takashimaya a few years ago, we reached out to a new demographic of customers. But outreach is (still) limited because youngsters are used to shopping online instead of going to physical stores."