Help for SME retailers to start selling online

Deputy chief executive of Enterprise Singapore Ted Tan said: "It is more crucial now for retailers to diversify revenue streams by using e-commerce channels." ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Retailers that are new to e-commerce can have 90 per cent of their costs of selling online covered.

The E-Commerce Booster Package was launched to help small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) retailers which are new to, or have little experience in, e-commerce to diversify their revenue streams beyond the traditional bricks-and-mortar model, Enterprise Singapore (ESG) said yesterday.

This is especially relevant amid the Covid-19 situation, ESG said.

Retailers can sign up with one of four e-commerce platforms - Amazon, Lazada Singapore, Qoo10 or Shopee - and have 90 per cent of qualifying costs waived.

The one-time support is capped at $9,000 and the e-commerce platforms will offset their fees directly.

Qualifying costs refer to the services provided by the platforms, including content development services, product listing and advertising.

The platform providers will work with retailers to curate and list products for up to six months, participate in promotional campaigns, fulfil orders and analyse sales data.

Those looking to expand their reach overseas can also tap ESG's existing Multichannel E-Commerce Platform Programme and list their products on overseas marketplaces with more qualifying costs covered.

Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing wrote on his Facebook page yesterday: "As more people turn to online shopping as a result of the Covid-19 situation, companies that have a strong online presence will have an added competitive advantage.

"We will help all companies that want to build or enhance their online presence to do so."

The ESG booster package will also help SME retailers with their manpower costs.

It will support 90 per cent of the salary costs of three of their employees for three months.

New hires and existing employees who are Singaporeans and permanent residents can qualify.

ESG did not specify the cap for this support.

Retailers can sign up for the E-Commerce Booster Package directly with the e-commerce platforms and solutions providers from now until Sept 30.

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat told the media during a visit to Gardens by the Bay yesterday that the package offers additional support to retailers who have been hurt by travel curbs and safe distancing measures.

"We want to help them implement some of these new solutions during this period for survival, because they can't continue business as usual," he said.

Businesses must rethink how they serve their customers, and those that are better able to adapt to the changing circumstances stand a higher chance of making it through the current situation and emerging stronger, he added.

Asked whether more aid is forthcoming for entertainment venues that have been ordered to suspend operations until at least the end of the month, Mr Chee said that while the Government is prepared to do more if needed, businesses are encouraged to tap the support schemes unveiled last week as part of the $48 billion Resilience Budget.

He urged firms that are unclear about how to benefit from the schemes to approach government agencies and trade associations.

The Straits Times reported that entertainment businesses forced to shut as part of measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus are struggling to retain staff and stay afloat in the absence of revenue.

Some said they felt left out of the supplementary budget, as they do not qualify for the higher wage subsidies offered to the tourism and food service sectors.

Mr Chee said strict measures to limit activity are painful but necessary to keep Singaporeans safe.

"If the situation gets out of control, it's going to be difficult to resume some of these activities any time soon," he said.

• Additional reporting by Tiffany Fumiko Tay

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 03, 2020, with the headline Help for SME retailers to start selling online. Subscribe