Businesses big and small must go digital: S. Iswaran

The question for businesses today is no longer one of whether they should go digital, but "when and how", Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran said.
The question for businesses today is no longer one of whether they should go digital, but "when and how", Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran said.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

SINGAPORE - Going digital is an endeavour that all businesses must undertake, no matter how small or big they are, Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran said on Friday (Feb 1).

The question for businesses today is no longer one of whether they should go digital, but "when and how", he added.

"It's not just about the tech industries, it's not just about manufacturing. It's also about our heritage districts... and also our heartland areas because all these sectors have to (go digital).

"Digitalisation has a way of democratising the economy, making every business... go well beyond its physical scale to reach distant markets and tap diverse resources."

Mr Iswaran was speaking at the signing of a memorandum of intent that aims to digitise shops in Little India.

An Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) survey of 114 merchants in Little India last year found that 60 per cent had installed digital payment options for customers.

About 45 per cent said they are open to adopting technology.

Technology companies such as Fave and Scash said that they are offering to help merchants in Little India to go digital.

Mobile rewards platform Fave will start a loyalty rewards programme for shoppers in Little India from next month, among other promotions.

Fave's managing director Ng Aik-Phong said the new programme aims to "drive footfall to the neighbourhood by encouraging repeat customers".

Shoppers will earn a digital stamp when they spend a minimum of $10 at a merchant in Little India. Rewards can be claimed at shops in the neighbourhood.

Merchants who use the Scash app can turn their phones into point-of-sales terminals allowing customers to make digital payments.

They can also start online shops on the app by taking photos of the items they want to sell and share them through social networking platforms instead of setting up a website.

A spokesman for Gayatri Indian restaurant on Race Course Road said that the rate of returning customers has increased since it started offering cashless payment options through FavePay.

"With the cashback benefit (which entitles returning customers to a cash discount the next time they visit), merchants like us can expect returning customers without having to spend much on advertising," the spokesman said.

The signatories of the memorandum included the Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SICCI), IMDA, Enterprise Singapore and the Little India Shopkeepers and Heritage Association (LISHA).

Trade association SICCI has about 840 members and LISHA has about 400.