In the Hot Seat: Mumpreneurs of Harnes Singapore
Starting a business is challenging, especially if you’re a resource-strapped mum.
As businesses operate in the new normal, digitalisation is the key to ensuring resilience and continued revenue growth in an uncertain environment. The Singapore Government has also recognised the importance of this effort, with Ted Tan, Deputy Chief Executive at Enterprise Singapore, recently saying:1 “More than ever, digitalisation has become a must-have capability for businesses.”
A recent survey of SMEs across Asia Pacific found that SME digitalisation could add up to S$32.9 billion to Singapore’s GDP and could “significantly” impact the country’s recovery2.
More and more SMEs are taking the digital plunge to ensure the survival of their businesses and embracing the transformative power of digital imperatives. In this article, we feature the stories of some SMEs who have successfully digitalised their business to capture new opportunities.
For businesses in the F&B sector, the speed of embracing digitalisation is critical to success. This has been made more apparent because of the pandemic – the businesses that had already built out some digital capabilities fared better than those that were later to the game.
White Restaurant, which has five outlets in Singapore, is a prime example. Its management had the foresight in February to realise that the COVID-19 storm was about to hit, and acted swiftly to set up online delivery capabilities, including centralised order-processing in addition to digital marketing. As a result, its sales during the circuit breaker period remained resilient, at about 70 per cent of pre-pandemic levels3.
Kochi Japan Fair
The travel and tourism sector has been one of the industries most affected by the pandemic. According to the OECD, “Depending on the duration of the crisis, revised scenarios indicate that the potential shock could range between a 60-80 per cent decline in the international tourism economy in 2020.”4
Three Singapore-based travel agencies, Pegasus Travel, Royal Wings Travel and Travel Creator – alumni of The FinLab’s 2018 Business Transformation Programme – used the forced downtime to prepare themselves for future success.
Putting what they learned in the programme to good use, they are now working on automating their back-end processes and upskilling their staff in skills such as how to develop and execute tours effectively. They also collaborated to host the Kochi Japan travel fair online, allowing them to reach a broader market than they could have done individually. When travel restrictions are lifted, they will be prepared to capitalise on the development quickly.
Recognising the importance of digitalisation, Layere, an online business that focuses on home-baked goods, plans to improve the interactivity of its website as well as expand its social media marketing.
The SME has already made some headway thanks to ProjectFOC – a collaboration between The FinLab and OFFEO, an animated online video maker. The aim of this project is to help affected retail and F&B businesses with their marketing efforts by giving them a free OFFEO subscription.
Through ProjectFOC, Layere created several animated videos that boosted its business outreach and resulted in increased engagement with its social media postings. This is just the beginning for Layere, which plans to expand into a “private home-dining experience” model.
The FinLab, an innovation accelerator by UOB, was created to help businesses on their digitalisation journey. Their latest initiative, the PROPEL Programme, was launched in August 2020 to give ASEAN SMEs a comprehensive yet easy-to-follow “roadmap” for digitalising their businesses.
Through a simple six-step framework, SMEs learn which digitalisation areas they should prioritise via a simple 15-minute test. They are able to then pick and implement specific tech solutions for their business.
One way that SMEs can help their businesses take an immediate “digital leap” forward is by adopting UOB BizSmart. It is an integrated, cloud-based platform that allows SMEs to seamlessly manage their core processes – from sales and invoicing to payroll and accounting – in real-time. It is the perfect way for SMEs to start their digital transformation journey and an ideal complement to The FinLab’s Propel Programme.
At UOB, we strive to ensure our SME clients have access to all the resources they need to succeed in the digital future. Visit The FinLab’s Propel programme page here to register and sign up for a BizSmart Free Trial here.