TCM hall morphs from neighbourhood shop to global e-commerce business

Heng Foh Tong vice-president Lee Chin Siong with his father Lee Khee Lian and mother Chye Nyuk Lian at their family-run TCM hall in Bukit Batok. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - Family-run traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) hall Heng Foh Tong saw business improve after going digital, with revenue up 20 per cent and footfall rising 10 per cent at its physical store compared with before the Covid-19 pandemic.

It took steps including setting up an online store and tapping e-commerce platforms such as Shopee and Fave. The shop, located in Bukit Batok, is also on navigation app Waze and business listing app Google My Business.

Mr Lee Chin Siong, 53, vice-president of Heng Foh Tong, said he was sceptical at first about the effectiveness of having an online shop as people usually buy TCM products in person.

"We just wanted to set up a simple website to increase awareness of Heng Foh Tong, but one of the criteria for getting government grants for the website was to develop an e-commerce website," said Mr Lee.

During the circuit breaker in 2020, he saw a boost in the online shop's revenue and realised there was a demand for e-commerce.

The digital presence transformed the Bukit Batok shop into an international business as people from different countries are now able to purchase its products online.

"Some customers travel across the island from places such as Pasir Ris and Seng Kang to see our products. They wouldn't have known about Heng Foh Tong if not for our website," he added.

After introducing new products such as herbal tea and confinement packages, Heng Foh Tong's clientele now includes new mothers as well.

The business also participated in the Visual Merchandising Programme in 2021 and had its shopfront refreshed with new flooring, a new display fridge, racks and ample lighting. It will also be installing a new signboard.

The ongoing programme helps business owners acquire new skills in product placement and digital content creation and to redesign their storefront to attract more customers.

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