More than 2,000 SMEs, heartland retailers to benefit from new e-commerce solution

The initiative aims to help SMEs deal with challenges in the retail landscape amid the Covid-19 pandemic. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - A new mobile commerce solution will help more than 2,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) set up their own virtual store and have access to a wide network of customers.

The initiative, which aims to help SMEs such as heartland merchants deal with challenges in the retail landscape amid the Covid-19 pandemic, was announced by Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat during a webinar on Monday (May 11).

Jointly developed by Nanyang Polytechnic's Singapore Institute of Retail Studies (NYP-SIRS), payment services group Nets and tech firm SCash, the initiative is supported by Alibaba Cloud, a subsidiary of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.

The mobile phone-based solution is expected to benefit traditional merchants who do not have the know-how to move their business online while their physical operations are affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.

Once the virtual store has been set up, customers are able to make orders through a URL or by scanning a QR code at the physical store.

After customers make their first purchase, retailers can engage with them through the likes of loyalty rewards or discount vouchers.

Nets is waiving service fees upon sign-up, while SCash is not charging merchants the monthly service fee until the end of the year.

NYP-SIRS is also providing a one-day workshop to help merchants sustain their business operation after the virtual store has been set up.

Ms Megan Ong, director of NYP-SIRS, said the coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on physical shops, while digital orders have increased during this period, which emphasises the need to help SMEs transition to digital solutions.

The workshop conducted by the institute will be tailored to the needs of SMEs of different trade backgrounds, she added.

On May 6, Enterprise Singapore announced an expansion to its e-commerce booster package to support SME retailers in strengthening their digital marketing capabilities for e-commerce.

The package includes a one-off 90 per cent support for digital marketing advisory services for three months, which include capabilities to analyse digital business models and assets.

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