More help to be given to heartland enterprises in push for digitalisation: Low Yen Ling

FRI, JUN 25, 2021 - 4:56 PM



HEARTLAND enterprises can now look forward to gain from a series of new initiatives aimed at helping them digitalise their business, said Minister of State Low Yen Ling at a heartland enterprise seminar on Friday.

To help businesses go digital, Enterprise Singapore (ESG) will be collaborating with Institute of Technical Education College by engaging its students to help heartland business owners create an online presence.

These students will also assist companies in setting up messaging services such as WhatsApp; and a social media presence, which will improve the businesses' discoverability, said Ms Low.

More details on the initiative will be announced at a later date, she added.

Additionally, to help improve footfall traffic and attract more customers to shop in the heartlands, ESG and Heartland Enterprise Centre Singapore (HECS) will also be launching the Heartland Visual Merchandising programme within the next few months.

The new programme, set to benefit up to 300 heartland enterprises, will help business owners acquire new skills in product placement, digital content creation and how to redesign their physical storefront to attract more customers.

This is on top of the Heartlands Go Digital Programme announced in October last year, which aims to encourage enterprises in the heartland to digitalise and adopt e-payments.

Heartland enterprises must plan for the long term and digitalise their businesses in order to continue growing even after Covid-19, Ms Low said in her speech in Mandarin.

She illustrated her point with figures from the Monetary Authority of Singapore, which showed that bank notes issued in 2020 had fallen by 24 per cent from 2019.

"As such, e-payment is here to stay as a relevant digital tool across most sectors and even within the heartlands," said Ms Low.

Reiterating her point was Lim Hock Chee, chief executive officer of supermarket chain Sheng Siong, who said that digitalisation is a team effort that can only be truly efficient if everyone is onboard.

Mr Lim, who was a keynote speaker at the seminar, recounted many areas of his business where automation and digitalisation had helped his business tremendously.

Sheng Siong, for example, employs an automated supply chain procurement system, where goods sold are automatically replenished.

The supermarket also adopts a hybrid self-checkout system, which effectively reduces the workload of a cashier. This reduces costs and alleviates the stress put on an employee, he said.

"The world is always changing, and so must businesses in order to stay relevant," added Mr Lim.

Ms Low ended her speech by calling on businesses to take the initiative in digitalising and innovating.

"The government stands ready to work with committed companies to build capabilities and to support those who wish to embark on the journey to digital transformation. Heartland enterprises can also continue to seek assistance from HECS and SME Centres for business advice and for recommendations on capability development programmes."