New digital solution to help manage inventory

UOB expands tool to help restaurateurs keep track of purchases and prices electronically

Mr Russell Yu, managing director of Iki Concepts, is hoping EzyProcure will help ease the process of tallying prices of supplies purchased. A 2016 survey by the Singapore Productivity Centre found that inventory management is one of the top productiv
Mr Russell Yu, managing director of Iki Concepts, is hoping EzyProcure will help ease the process of tallying prices of supplies purchased. A 2016 survey by the Singapore Productivity Centre found that inventory management is one of the top productivity concerns for more than 60 per cent of food and beverage operators. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Checking invoices is a big part of restaurateur Russell Yu's day, and he is hoping that a new digital solution he signed up for last month can ease the process of tallying prices.

Iki Concepts, where Mr Yu, 32, is managing director, receives between 1,200 and 1,400 eggs every two days. The restaurant group has two ramen outlets, a bar and a fine-dining Japanese restaurant.

"Even a price difference of one cent (for each egg) makes a difference," Mr Yu said. "Sometimes, suppliers may not provide us with the most updated costs in advance, so we have to catch it on our end."

Yesterday, United Overseas Bank (UOB) officially expanded its cloud-based solution UOB BizSmart to include a procurement platform called EzyProcure.

The platform aims to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the food and beverage sector buy and keep track of their purchases and prices electronically.

Another upgrade is for buyers to use the bank's virtual payment solution, which provides them with interest-free credit, allowing them to extend their credit cycle for up to 90 days, said a UOB spokesman during a media briefing.

The cashflow data can help restaurateurs obtain bank financing as there is greater visibility on their daily operations, the spokesman added. "With the detailed information, the bank is able to determine the business' creditworthiness more accurately and... extend credit with more certainty."

With the upgrades, buyers can select items from their pre-approved suppliers and choose the delivery date. Suppliers who are also on the app will receive notifications when there are new orders.

When an order is placed, it creates an electronic record that is aimed at easing bookkeeping pressures, said Mr Edmund Louis Nathan, 38, chief executive and founder of Singapore E-Business, which created EzyProcure.

For suppliers who are not on EzyProcure, buyers can manage their suppliers and the items in an ad-hoc suppliers module on the app, and the suppliers will receive their orders through an e-mail, Mr Nathan said.

A 2016 survey by the Singapore Productivity Centre found that inventory management is one of the top productivity concerns for more than 60 per cent of food and beverage operators.

Currently, EzyProcure has 927 buyers and 638 suppliers, with about 80 per cent of them in the food and beverage sector.

UOB serves more than half of the 7,500 buyers and suppliers here, and the bank will encourage them to join BizSmart, said its group business banking head Lawrence Loh.

To get on EzyProcure as part of BizSmart, companies have to pay a one-time set-up fee of $5,000. Companies eligible for the Infocomm Media Development Authority's SMEs Go Digital programme pay $1,500.

Subsequently, buyers and suppliers need to pay a monthly fee of $100 from the third year onwards, said the UOB spokesman, adding that the bank's customers will "enjoy preferential pricing".

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 03, 2018, with the headline New digital solution to help manage inventory. Subscribe