Heartland merchants offered help with digital push

Heartland merchants offered help with digital push
Older hawkers like Miss Jasmine Rose's middle-aged uncle who runs Penang Delights at the S11 coffee shop in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8, are more set in their ways and reluctant to adopt digital solutions offered by the new initiative.
PHOTO: Jasmine Rose

Her women's fashion store in Clementi, Mymitmat, has suffered a 90 per cent drop in sales ever since it had to close because of the circuit breaker.

Even though she has already listed some of her store's products online, Ms Michelle Tang hopes she can create a bigger online presence for her store while her shopfront remains shut for the foreseeable future.

"Having more online listings on different platforms will help. It might not match up to our in-store sales because customers prefer to see and feel the apparel before they purchase them, but it is better than nothing," Ms Tang, 37, told The New Paper.

Heartland merchants like her can now get help from tech firms to digitalise their businesses through a new initiative launched by Enterprise Singapore, the Infocomm Media Development Authority, and the Heartland Enterprise Centre, Singapore (HECS).

The initiative aims to partner more than 400 merchants in three precincts - Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, and Clementi estates - with digital platforms ConnectUpz, DEI and Fave. It will then be rolled out to 10 precincts by the end of the year.

This comes on the back of other measures unveiled by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat in Parliament on Tuesday to support the digital transformation of businesses.

More than $500 million will be set aside for that purpose.

Announcing the new scheme at the Singapore Heartland Enterprise Seminar yesterday, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat called on merchants to embrace digital platforms in order to sustain their businesses.

He said digitalising their businesses will also allow them to prepare for the new normal after the pandemic.

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Mr Yeo Hiang Meng, president of the Federation of Merchants' Associations, Singapore and managing director of HECS, urged retailers and food and beverage outlets to work with the Government and adopt technology to improve workflow and grow their business.

Merchants will receive guidance from the three tech firms - ConnectUpz, DEI and Fave - on a range of digital solutions, including loyalty programmes, online stores, and e-payment methods, at discounted rates. Those keen can sign up through the HECS website.

Ms Tang, however, has reservations about e-commerce.

"Having your own website doesn't mean there will be traffic, especially when there are more established online retailers out there," she said.

Entrepreneur Jasmine Rose said her middle-aged uncle, who runs a food stall in Ang Mo Kio, has not heeded her calls to use e-payment options as he has poor eyesight and does not understand English.

Ms Rose, 33, who recently started Hawker Champions SG to deliver food from hawker stalls at Chomp Chomp Food Centre without charging commission, said: "The new initiative might work for younger hawkers and retailers. But the older ones are more set in their ways and won't be keen."

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This article was first published in The New Paper. Permission required for reproduction.

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