SINGAPORE - Companies will have to transform their business models fast by embracing digital technology to jump on the online e-commerce bandwagon in order to remain relevant in a rapidly advancing digital economy.
This was among a number of topics covered in a webinar session on Tuesday (Nov 10) for about 800 young Singaporeans.
The main speaker was Mr Ho Suu Wei, who is online payment system company PayPal's South-east Asia government relations director.
Tuesday's session, which also touched on the importance of data protection amid digitalisation, was the second of seven sessions.
The webinar series is the first event to be rolled out as part of the Asia-Ready Exposure Programme (AEP), which was first announced in February by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.
The aim of the programme is to equip young Singaporeans with cross-cultural skills and understand Asean, China and India better.
Mr Heng had said then that more Singaporean students from institutes of higher learning would have the chance to go abroad, setting a target of 70 per cent of them to gain overseas exposure, up from about half of all students from local universities, polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education.
The Asia-Ready webinar series was launched last month by the National Youth Council (NYC), in partnership with the Singapore Institute of International Affairs and Asean Business Youth Association.
It will run till March next year, and give the youth insights into some issues and opportunities in Asia, enhance their appreciation for the region and equip them with relevant knowledge in the evolving socioeconomic climate.
During the dialogue session, Mr Ho said the rise in e-commerce and digital payments has changed the way people live and work.
He added that if merchants are not able to transform their business models fast enough by embracing digital technology to jump on the online e-commerce bandwagon, "they might find themselves in some sort of trouble".
In the past, locations of physical shops were a key business differentiator, he noted.
"If merchants had a strategic location with good human traffic, their businesses were likely to do better... Now, the considerations have changed with e-commerce sites and social media platforms," said Mr Ho.
"If you are familiar with online marketing, distribution and logistics, the world is literally your oyster."
Under the AEP, participants will also take on e-learning modules to learn more about the language and culture of Asean, China and India.
They will have to work on a local project curated by AEP organisers to broaden their exposure to Asia's growing economies, as well as attend facilitated debrief sessions to reflect and share about the AEP experience with their peers.