Singapore businesses adopt e-commerce plans as Covid disrupts businesses
Singaporean businesses are increasingly putting their businesses online to deal with the disruption Covid-19 has brought to their physical operations.
Even small and medium-sized businesses, which were previously less inclined to operate online, had to rethink their strategies when the pandemic struck.
“Before Covid, there might have been a bit of hesitation, to adopt some of these e-commerce strategies. They’ll say, no, it’s taking too long. It takes a lot of resources, a lot of investment,” Selena Ling , chief economist at OCBC bank, told CNBC.
“But I think what has really changed in terms of the state of mind, over the last 12 to 15 months, is that it’s a ‘do or die’ type approach,” he said. she adds.
To slow the spread of the virus at the height of the pandemic last year, the Singapore government imposed a ‘circuit breaker’ – or partial lockdown, forcing most people to stay and work from home. As a result, many retailers and manufacturers were unable to open their physical stores, Ling said.
“A lot of companies, even the smallest ones, have had to turn to this digital model. And I think a lot of the political support has also been directed towards trying to help small businesses adopt a digital strategy.” , she said.
James Chang, CEO of Lazada Singapore, echoed his feeling that the pandemic has pushed many domestic brands and small online players to adapt to the changes.
“In fact, (the) pandemic has really led to a lot of e-commerce adoptions. In three different areas – one is that a lot of brands have gone online and a lot of SMEs have started their business online,” he said, referring to small and medium enterprises. medium-sized enterprises. “Buyer adoption has really accelerated.”
Southeast Asia’s leading online retailer Lazada is currently helping SMEs grow their e-commerce presence in the city-state.
“For an entrepreneur to start a retail business, the cost of entry has been very high. If we can break down the barrier to entry, we believe that we can really foster and energize a much more vibrant entrepreneurial scene, which can be the fundamental pillar in getting more SMEs to do business, ”Chang said.
The Singapore government has also provided a lot of support to advance digital agendas for domestic businesses since the outbreak of Covid-19.
“I think Singapore has really supported businesses large and small, especially during macroeconomic changes such as Covid. The local government has been very supportive of wage subsidies, helping to retrain and resize,” said Henry Chan, co-founder and CEO of local e-commerce company ShopBack.
In addition, Singapore’s e-commerce finance environment has improved dramatically over the past 10 years, which has helped start-ups raise capital and grow their businesses, according to an analyst.
“I think one of the great things Singapore has done is to create a very attractive funding environment for young start-ups,” said James Root, senior partner and president of Bain Futures, a global think tank. the consulting firm Bain & Company. “Ten years ago that wasn’t necessarily the case. You would be hard pressed to find more than one or two venture capital firms.”
Today, there are many who are able to provide financing in the early stages of these ventures, he said.
“And this growth capital is vital for companies that have overcome the early round-table challenges in their early days and are looking to expand into new categories, into new markets,” Root added.