The COVID-19 outbreak has had a significant effect on the global economy (not to mention socially and politically as well) and while many countries are recovering from said pandemic, Bill Gates estimates that the world’s richest nations will have the current state of affairs under control by the end of 2021, and 2022 for the developing world. The retail and F&B industries need all the help they can to survive and adapt, and we’re here to do just that with some tips and an in-depth look at the initiatives to embrace digitisation courtesy of the Singaporean government.
Limitations of Brick and Mortar
Over the next year, retail and F&B business must march on despite the setbacks. What setbacks I hear you ask?
For starters, the pandemic necessitated governments around the world setting up regulations and laws to prevent the further spread of infections. As circumstances change, so do the regulations and that businesses have struggled somewhat to be in compliance. Furthermore, most if not all brick and mortar outlets have had their maximum capacity reduced by 20-40%, so that means less customers at any given time. This has caused problems in cash flow and work shift arrangements, among other things.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of issues COVID-19 has caused, but it paints a general picture of the challenges faced by the F&B and retail industries. There are certain strategies to help entrepreneurs cope with the situation, though. As we’ve mentioned before, planning out cash flow, taking a new perspective on business processes and most importantly, leveraging technology is imperative in order to adapt quicker to the changing marketplace.
Going Digital Has Never Been Easier
Various departments of the Singaporean government have offered schemes and assistance such as the SMEs Go Digital to enhance businesses by helping them adopt digital solutions. The GoBusiness scheme that boasts consolidated information on over 100 government assistance schemes and E-Advisor Online Tool was also launched in August 2020.
Just in case there are any doubts that businesses should make the most of tech, here are some stats. In the first quarter of 2020 alone, more than 3,500 companies started digital transformations with the help of Enterprise Singapore. 37% of Singaporean consumers have increased their online shopping since the beginning of the pandemic. Over 10,000 F&B and retail establishments have gone online since April of this year and benefitted from digitising their businesses.
Grow Fast, Grow Digital
Grow Digital is an initiative by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and Enterprise Singapore (ESG) under the SMEs Go Digital programme. Under this initiative, SMEs can participate in pre-approved Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business-to-Consumer (B2C) e-commerce platforms to sell overseas without a need for physical presence.
Through these platforms, SMEs will benefit from:
- Smart matching to connect SME suppliers with potential overseas clients
- Optimised listings on overseas e-marketplaces
- Prompt access to financing offers facilitated via the platforms
- Cross-border e-payment facilities that alleviate currency risks
- Strong partners network such as with logistics companies to facilitate last mile delivery
- Training and support to build competencies for cross-border e-commerce
Eligible SMEs can receive up to 70% funding (or 90% via the Multichannel E-commerce Platform Programme) to participate in the platforms under Grow Digital. Adoption of the Grow Digital solutions does not count toward Productivity Solutions Grant funding utilisation, which is capped at a maximum of S$30,000 per SME per year.
Any business entity registered in Singapore can apply, subject to the follow requisites:
- At least 30% local shareholding; and
- Group annual turnover not exceeding S$100 million per annum based on the most recent audited report, or group employment not exceeding 200 employees
- Additional requirement for the MEP Programme: annual overseas sales not exceeding S$100,000 (online) for each of the three preceding years
For more information on Grow Digital, click here!
Be Resilient Digitally
We talked about the Digital Resilience Bonus (DRB) in a previous article, but basically, the DRB was announced as part of Singapore’s Fortitude Budget by the Deputy Prime Minister, Heng Swee Keat on 26 May 2020. This scheme is aimed to help enterprises emerge stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare them to be more competitive in the new normal. For a start, the DRB is targeted at the F&B and retail sectors.
Businesses will benefit from digital solutions:
- e-Payment (PayNow Corporate) and e-Invoicing enable your business to carry out cashless and paperless transactions, thus reducing the need for physical interactions between buyers and suppliers and being paid faster
- Accounting and HR/payroll solutions like JustPayroll enable your business to be more efficient, support remote working and business continuity
- Digital Ordering for dining in and takeaways enables your patrons to place their own orders and make payments digitally. It sends your patrons’ orders to the kitchen immediately for food preparation, thus improving efficiency and accuracy
- Inventory Management enables automatic synchronisation between your inventory movements and your orders, sales and deliveries, thus avoiding under or over-stocking and eradicating the need for manual stock-taking
- e-Commerce, e-Procurement and Food Delivery Platforms enable your business to have better engagement with your existing customers and allow you to expand your market reach beyond your physical shopfronts
- Data Mining and Analytics enable you to optimise business outcomes (e.g. maximise conversion, optimise product mix, reduce wastage) through analysing consolidated data from multiple sources in an insightful way
F&B and Retail Businesses who adopt online accounting or HR/Payroll solutions will be eligible for Category 1 and receive a grant of $2,500, should they have used the solutions at least once a month. The solutions are pre-approved under the schemes: PSG, Start Digital, Grow Digital and E-Commerce Booster. There are no submissions to make to apply for the DRB, if you are using solutions from any pre-approved vendor between 1 June 2020 and 30 June 2021, they will help you submit your UEN to IMDA. For more information on the DRB, click here!
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