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A Guide to Start Digital for Singapore SMEs

A Guide to Start Digital for Singapore SMEs

Introduction

The SMEs Go Digital programme was developed to help SMEs embrace digital transformation and maximise growth with the help of digital technologies. As part of this programme, support such as enhanced government grants, the Digital Resilience Bonus, SME Digital Tech Hub, Start Digital Packs and more have been introduced.

Spearheaded by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), the Start Digital programme was launched in January 2019 and encourages SMEs to adopt digital business processes with comprehensive and low-cost digital solutions. The Start Digital Packs have since gained traction and support from banks, regulators, and SMEs in Singapore.

What is the Start Digital Pack?

A Start Digital Pack is an affordable and fully customisable digital business solutions package created under the government’s SMEs Go Digital programme. Recognised by most corporate service providers in Singapore, the easy-to-adopt and easy-to-deploy programmes and tools included in the package are designed specifically to address the needs of small and medium enterprises that are just starting up or transitioning to the digital scheme. An organisation can pick up the tools or systems they need to get a head start in digitalisation, building a stronger foundation for sustainable business growth.

What are the Benefits of the Start Digital Pack for SMEs?

Aside from the benefits of digitalisation, the Start Digital Pack provides SMEs with the following advantages:

Low Price – The Start Digital Pack includes standard business solutions available in the market but are offered at a much lower price. SMEs can take advantage of rebates and/or free months of access when they sign up. **Freebies will depend on the contract and will differ amongst different partners and providers.

Comprehensive Business Solutions – The Start Digital Pack offers a complete set of business solutions for all business needs. The pack includes programmes and tools on business Accounting and Bookkeeping, HR and Payroll, Digital Marketing, Digital Transactions, Sales and Inventory, Cybersecurity, and others.

Customisable Package – SMEs can pick and choose the programmes they need and leave out those that aren’t relevant to their business. Having the right solutions working for their organisation will help entrepreneurs streamline their processes, and focus more on satisfying their customers and growing the business.

Easy Transition to the Digital World – SMEs adopting the Start Digital Packs will also enjoy professional help and guidance that will ease their entry to digitalisation. Corporate service providers in Singapore can provide an array of relevant tech solutions and training to help businesses digitalise their operations.

Who can apply for a Start Digital Pack?

To qualify for the programme, the business must meet the following criteria:

  • Singapore registered and incorporated
  • At least 30% ownership is held by a Singapore citizen or permanent resident
  • Not more than $100 million in annual sales turnover, or not more than 200 employees

How can I apply for a Start Digital Pack for my business?

Qualified businesses can apply for a Start Digital Pack with any Start Digital Partner. Some of the already approved partners and vendors of the SMEs Go Digital Programme include DBS, OCBC, Maybank, UOB, Singtel, and M1. To apply, simply choose the partner (some partners may require the applicant to have an active account with them), customise your package, and then submit the registration form. When choosing the most suitable partner for your business, it is best to learn more about what the partner is offering and the details of the pack – the rates, the apps available and any help they are willing to extend to their clients.

Start Digital Pack Partners

OCBC and DBS banks are two of the first partners who join the Start Digital programme with great business solutions to offer:

OCBC – The OCBC Start Digital Pack has many digital business applications including accounting, marketing, HR, sales and procurement solutions. Its fully customisable solutions dashboard features are also integrated with e-commerce applications like Google Analytics, Mailchimp and Shopify. The dashboard is free to SMEs with OCBC accounts when they apply for a Start Digital Pack and subscribe to at least two solutions. The package also comes with a choice of two free apps upon sign up: Xero, Quickbooks, Mailchimp, or Shopify, for the first 12 months. Cash rebates are also offered in certain applications. To apply, simply send your account declaration and verification to your bank, choose the apps to purchase and start enjoying the benefits of digitalisation. 

DBS – An application for a DBS Start Digital Pack can be made online, with no need for qualified SMEs to physically go to the bank. Application is easily completed within 5 minutes and approval can be expected within 3 business days, when the client’s portal is ready for use. Open to new and existing customers, DBS offers web-based business tools that are designed to streamline processes, increase profitability and enhance business growth. DBS offers up to 18 months of free subscription to their featured solutions upon signing up with their Start Digital Packs.

Solutions under the Start Digital Pack

Start Digital offers a wide range of business solutions for users to choose from. Xero and Financio are two of the most popular business solutions amongst accounting firms in Singapore and Malaysia.

Xero – Xero is a top cloud-based accounting software with business tools integrations that include invoicing, time-tracking, reporting, payments, banking, HR and payroll, inventory, CRM, and bill/expenses management. The user-friendly accounting platform is popular for its groundbreaking and user-focused innovations. Our team at Mighty Glory Corporate Solutions, a certified Xero Advisor, can help you set up your Xero account for your corporate needs, walk you through implementation, and manage your account for you.

Financio – Financio is an all-round business solutions platform specially designed for small and medium businesses. Amongst its key integrations are business apps in invoicing, banking, HR and payroll, collaboration and reporting. Financio also features Lazada, one of the leading eCommerce platforms. The headache of manual stock counts is removed through the seamless synchronizing of price rates and inventory of your eCommerce business with Financio. As one of the pioneer Financio Advisors, we can help you set up your Financio account according to your business needs, implement its use, and manage it so that you can focus on other business priorities.

Conclusion

Connect with us today to know more about the Start Digital Pack! Our team can assist you to choose your partner, help you build your solutions package, and implement the solutions for your business needs. We look forward to helping you achieve your business goals with efficient and holistic solutions.

Differences Between A Business Name And A Trading Name

Differences Between A Business Name And A Trading Name

Introduction

Choosing between a business name and a trading name can be a daunting task. If you’re new to doing business in Singapore, you’re probably wondering which is cheaper or more effective for your brand.

Well, it depends.  Both business names and trading names have benefits and drawbacks, so each is suited to specific scenarios, as we shall learn in this article.

What Is A Business Name?

A business name is your enterprise’s legal name. It’s the official designation of the entity or individual that owns the company. It’s also the name you’ll put on government forms and business paperwork.

A business’s legal name may differ depending on its business structure. If the business entity is registered as a sole proprietorship, you may use the owner’s full name, i.e. Alan Khoo & Co. However, you can also use creative names like 8Eight8 Advisory Services, and so on.

Under a general partnership, an amalgam of the partners’ last names in the business’s legal name is quite common in Singapore. Private limited and exempt private limited companies usually have the suffix “Private Limited” or “Pte Ltd” in their legal names during the name application.

Unlike the other business entities, most legal names for corporations and limited liability companies do not include the names of their shareholders (or members). However, some countries will require these companies to include the term “Corporation” or “LLC” in their legal name, like New Technologies LLC.

Choosing and registering a business name

Your name is one of the first things prospective clients or customers will notice about your organization. It connects your prospects to your products and services. A good business name may not be all that’s required to make your business profitable, but it is a critical first step in that direction.

All companies incorporated in Singapore must have their names approved by ACRA. The process is a relatively simple online procedure that takes less than an hour on the Bizfile portal, provided that the applicant follows all relevant rules and regulations.

The Bizfile service will check your chosen name against its database to ensure that it hasn’t been taken. If it doesn’t find any matches, it will let you move on to the next step in the registration process – choosing a suffix.

Your suffix denotes your business structure, for example, PTE means you’re registering a Private Limited company; LLP means it’s a Limited Liability Partnership, and so on. You will need to choose the option that best suits your enterprise.

Note: Your preferred business name may be referred to the separate government agency for verification if it contains regulated business designations like legal, finance, school, or broker. This may extend the approval process to a few weeks.

If you’re planning on registering a company in Singapore, Mighty Glory Corporate Solutions is here to help.  Besides checking and reserving a company name for you, we will prepare all other critical documents needed to register your business.

What Is A Trading Name?

If you prefer to operate under a different identification from your company’s legal name, you may use a trading name instead.

A trading name does not require additional legal phrases or words (like LLC, Corp, and so on). For instance, a business’ trading name is Pinehurst, but their legal business name is Pinehurst LLC. An enterprise may choose to have their business name and trading name be the same.

Trading names are seldom displayed together with the business legal names since they are the names that the public sees but legal names are still required to be printed on majority of the documents for statutory purposes. Usually, business owners use trading names instead of their legal business names to assist in product branding that may help in attracting more customers.

Another common reason that businesses use trading names if they’re part of larger companies. A corporation may own several different companies that are independently managed. The corporation is registered under a formal business name, each sub-company gets a unique trading name to set it apart from the others.

The rules for registering a trading name vary between different countries. Some will require separate fees and applications for each trade name that are registered. You might want to check with your jurisdiction for more information regarding the trade name registration.

There are no filing requirements for trading names in Singapore. However, the applicants are required to disclose the underlying business registered name and unique entity number.

Using A Business Name Vs. A Trading Name

In most cases, a business will have both a legal name and trading name.  The legal one, as described above, must appear on all government forms and legal documents. The trading name usually appears on signages and advertisements. Whether you choose to use a trading name instead of a legal name is up to the business owner or the board of directors. Using a trading name comes with both disadvantages and disadvantages, as described below.

Benefits of using a trade name

  • It can be inexpensive to register a trade name. (In fact, there are hardly any requirements for it in Singapore).
  • It may give your enterprise more credibility
  • It enables you to differentiate your products

Disadvantages of using a trading name

  • You won’t have the exclusive rights to the name if you don’t apply for a trademark.
  • Your trademark will only be recognized in the jurisdiction where you registered.

Choosing Between A Legal Business Name And A Trading Name

Choosing between business name or trading name is an important decision, as it will affect your company in several ways. If you’re considering using a trading name instead of your business name, there are several factors that you will need to consider.

Your customers

Adopting a trading name after starting a business for a few years could be a wise choice, but it will likely confuse your existing customers. Be ready to address questions about why you’re using trade names and clearly communicate that your business will remain the same despite the change in name.

Your reputation

As a business owner, you have probably put a lot of effort into building a strong, reputable brand. If your customers can no longer recognize your brand due to a name change, adopting a trading name could diminish any rapport you’ve established over the years. Consequently, you should carefully assess whether the benefits of taking on a trade name are worth the potential disadvantages.

The cost

Before you start trading under a different name, you’ll need to ensure you have the resources to have it displayed everywhere it needs to be. This might require getting new signage, stationery, and/or editing your website and social media pages to show your new name. These changes come aren’t free, and the costs could be high.

You’ll need to carefully evaluate if you can afford to invest the money and time required to implement these changes. If your business is struggling to cover bills and other expenses, it may be unwise to invest in name changes until your revenues are more stable.

Legal protection

Once you register a trade name, other companies won’t be able to use it. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s fully legally protected. To do that, you will need a trademark. It allows you to:

  • Prosecute anyone legally who uses your name without your consent
  • Use the trademark symbol
  • License and sell your name

Conclusion

Trading names and business names are suited to specific situations. If your company has several product lines, adopting trading names will help you differentiate your offerings in the eyes of your customers.  On the other hand, if you’re offering a single product/service and have already built a reputation, adopting a trading name may hurt your brand.

Double Tax Agreement Between Singapore and China

Double Tax Agreement Between Singapore and China

Introduction

This article aims to provide guidance on practical operational considerations to enjoy the tax treaty benefits and other tax matters relevant to Singapore entities.

Singapore Income Tax Regime and Implications on Dividends, Interest and Royalties Received by Singapore Entities

Singapore adopts a territorial tax system. Only income that are accrued or derived from Singapore or received in Singapore from outside Singapore may be subject to tax in Singapore. Generally, expenditures are deductible against taxable income if they were incurred wholly and exclusively for the production of income and not prohibited by Section 15 of the Income Tax Act.

Singapore does not impose tax on capital gains. Hence expenses incurred in the production of capital gains are not deductible against taxable income for tax purposes.

Singapore imposes 0% withholding tax on dividends paid by Singapore tax resident company. Singapore, however, imposes withholding tax on certain payment of a specified nature made to non-residents companies. These payments include interest, commission, fee or other payment in connection with any loan or indebtedness and royalties. The respective withholding tax rates are 15% and 10%. Technical assistance, service fees or management fees made to non-tax residents of Singapore will also require the payer to withhold the tax due and have it paid to the Comptroller before 15th day of the immediate second month following from the date of payment or its accrual, whichever is earlier, unless the services are rendered wholly outside Singapore.

The income derived and earned by Singapore entities from companies in China are not taxable in Singapore if they are not received in Singapore. Section 10(25) of the Income Tax Act provides that the following amount would be regarded as “income received in Singapore from outside Singapore” if any amount from any income derived from outside Singapore is:

• Either remitted to, transmitted or brought into Singapore;
• Applied in or towards the satisfaction of any debt incurred in respect of trade or business carried on in Singapore; and
• Applied to purchase any movable property brought into Singapore.

Tax exemption may be granted to a Singapore tax resident company on its foreign-sourced dividend income received in Singapore under Section 13(8) of the Act if the following conditions are met:

• At the time the dividend income is received in Singapore, the headline corporate tax rate of the foreign jurisdiction from which the dividend income is received is at least 15%;
• The dividend income had been subjected to tax in the foreign jurisdiction from which they were received; and
• The Comptroller is satisfied that the tax exemption would be beneficial to the Singapore tax resident.

The corporate tax rate for China is more than 15% and China imposes withholding tax on dividends, interest and royalty payments to non-tax residents under its domestic legislations. In this respect, the above conditions shall be considered as met where dividend income from China is concerned. Companies may wish to obtain information from the local tax advisor on this.

The above Section 13(8) tax exemption is only applicable to Singapore tax resident companies. To be regarded as Singapore tax residents, control and management of the companies’ businesses must be exercised in Singapore. Control and management refer to companies’ policy level decision making on strategic matters and business plans. It is a question of fact. Typically, the control and management of a company’s business are vested in its board of directors (“BOD”) and the place of residence is where the directors meet for strategic business discussions or hold their board meeting.

In the event that Singapore entities are not eligible for tax exemption on foreign dividends remitted to Singapore, foreign tax credit is claimable against Singapore tax payable on the same income.

Claiming of Reduced Withholding Tax Rates under DTAs

Dividends, interest and royalties from companies in China are subject to local withholding tax of 10% under its local domestic legislations. The rate may be reduced to 5%, 7% for dividends and interest respectively under the provisions of Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement (“DTA”) entered into between Singapore and China on satisfying certain conditions. This is as summarised:

Payer country Domestic Withholding Tax (Dividends / Interest / Royalties) DTA Withholding Tax        (Dividends / Interest / Royalties) Savings
China 10% 5% / 7% / 10% 5% / 3% / 0%

 

 • 5% reduced rate applies to the gross amount of the dividends if the beneficial owner (recipient) is a business that owns directly at least 25% of the share capital of the enterprise (payer) paying the dividends.

• In all other cases, the gross amount of dividends are taxed at a rate of 10%.

• 7% reduced rate will be levied on the gross income derived from interests received by any bank or financial institution.

• In all other cases, the gross amount interest are taxed at a rate of 10%.

• The tax charged shall not exceed 10% on the gross amount of royalties.

In the cases of business profits and income from immovable property, companies will be taxed in their home jurisdictions. Exception is when companies perform the activities or carry on businesses through permanent establishments in China or Singapore. This provision in the Singapore – China double tax treaty also applies to income derived from agricultural and forestry-related activities.

The term “permanent establishment” is defined as a fixated place of business through which the business of an entity is wholly or partly carried on. It includes a place of management, a branch, an office, a factory, a workshop, construction site, mine, oil or gas well, a quarry or any other place of extraction of natural resources of a Chinese company in Singapore.

Operations carried on by Singapore companies in China are also deemed permanent establishments. It is mandatory that for a company to be considered a permanent establishment, it must carry out its activities continually for a period of more than 6 months in China or Singapore. Where an establishment provides services and employs headcounts in the other jurisdiction, the minimum period required should aggregate more than 6 months within any twelve-month period.

To avail for the reduced withholding tax rates under the DTA, Singapore entities may be required to obtain Certificates of Residence (“COR”) from the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (“IRAS”) for submission by the companies in China to the China Tax Authority.

IRAS has stringent substance requirements for companies claiming DTA benefits. This is to avoid treaty abuse strategies that undermine tax sovereignty such as claiming treaty benefits in cases where these benefits were not intended to be granted, thus depriving countries of tax revenues. These measures were endorsed and implemented by IRAS within the inclusive framework for the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project proposed by the OECD.

A COR may be issued if the foreign-owned companies are able to meet the following conditions:

a. Majority of the BOD meetings for discussion on strategic business matters are held in Singapore, with documentary evidence and support of minutes of meetings; and
b. The company has a valid and commercial purpose for setting up office in Singapore.

The shareholding test for a foreign-owned company is such that 50% or more of its shares capital are held by foreign entities / individual shareholders.


If the company is a foreign-owned investment holding company, then at least one of the following conditions must be satisfied:

• Have presence of related entities in Singapore that are tax residents and carry on business activities in Singapore; or
• Receive administrative support services from a Singapore related entity; or
• Have at least 1 director residing in Singapore who holds an executive position. This director must not be a nominee director; or
• Have at least 1 key employee holding important positions such as CEO, CFO, COO based and residing in Singapore.

The above-mentioned conditions would not be met by Singapore entities if they derive only passive income such as dividend or interest. For COR to be issued by IRAS, Singapore entities may wish to consider implementation of the following:

• Valid reasons and documentation for setting up office in Singapore. The reasons shall primarily be commercially driven and tax benefits shall not be the main reason.

• Carry on other business activities apart from investment holding or receive administrative support services from a Singapore related entity. These business activities include the provision of consultancy and management services to related companies; and

• Have at least 1 key employee or director who hold an executive position based in Singapore.

• BOD meetings for deciding strategic matters of the company are held in Singapore with proper documentation.

Conclusion

Minutes of Directors’ meetings are different from Directors’ resolutions. Directors’ resolutions are passed on writing by directors but minutes of BOD meeting is a record of the list of attendees of BOD meeting, location where the meeting was held and the agenda discussed.

We trust the above meet the requirements of the treaty benefits between Singapore and China. Please let us know if you require any clarification or advice at welcome@mightyglory.sg.

Why Outsourced Accounting Services in Singapore Are Worth to Consider?

Why Outsourced Accounting Services in Singapore Are Worth to Consider?

Many start-ups and small business owners in Singapore are outsourcing their accounting duties to other firms. It might seem counter-intuitive: Why would a small business entrust another firm with their finances? However, there is wisdom in this practice. Outsourced accounting services might seem like an unnecessary expense, but the costs of hiring and maintaining an in-house accountant are far more.

There are many benefits to outsourced accounting services, especially in Singapore. The expertise and professionalism that comes with accounting firms make them reliable and trustworthy. In this article, we shall look at some of the positive outcomes of outsourced accounting services in Singapore.

When to Consider Outsourcing Your Accounting Duties?

Small businesses need to consider outsourcing their accounting function before hiring an in-house accountant. Here are some of the scenarios when outsourced accounting services work best:

  • A small business that doesn’t need an in-house accountant.
  • A company fails to find a suitable accountant at an affordable cost.
  • A growing business with the need for accounting services to meet changing financial needs.
  • Temporary assistance due to manpower constraint, for example, when the staff in charge is away for personal reason.

Benefits of Outsourced Accounting Services

Outsourced accounting service providers exhibit professionalism and expertise in financial matters. They offer a wide range of services, including bookkeeping, daily administrative support, payroll-related, managing accounts payable and accounts receivable, filing income tax returns, ECI (or Estimated Chargeable Income), and preparing other reports for special reasons. On the other hand, hiring an in-house accountant can lead to less accuracy and maybe even losses when it comes to misinterpretation of any financial laws.

Here are some of the benefits of outsourcing accounting services in Singapore:

No Need to Hire Full-time Accountant

Small business enterprises may not need to hire a full-time accountant for their firm. They deal with a limited volume of work, which means they can do without a fully paid accountant. That is why hiring outsourcing accounting services is a more feasible approach. With outsourcing, a firm can review their finances and periodically plan for the future, while freeing up time to create new business strategies.

Cost Savings

Setting up a company in Singapore and maintaining it require a lot of work – not to mention that it is very costly. Outsourcing might seem like an expensive venture, but you’d be surprised to learn that outsourcing saves a lot of money in the long run. Outsourced accounting services reduce expenses, usually attributed to a full-time employee. It removes the need to pay the salaries, bonuses, pension or levies, and other benefits for an accountant. With outsourcing, you only pay for accounting services, nothing extra. You get better quality services for less money than it would take to hire and maintain a full-time employee. There is no loss in productivity that usually affects employees in a company.

Expertise

Outsourced accounting services provide the option of hiring professional accountants with high levels of expertise at an affordable price. Small businesses in Singapore can benefit from a team of highly qualified accountants who provide integrity and deliver work on time. Accounting services make sure to cope in a competitive market by continually improving their qualifications and skills. These are all readily available to companies should they choose to outsource their accountants. Moreover, external auditors do a better job of reducing errors in their work – considering that they may lose a contract if they mess up.

Accuracy

When it comes to outsourced accounting services, the margin of error reduces significantly. Accounting firms will usually utilize accounting automation software to save time. Using accounting software reduces the amount of time spent in preparing tax returns, tracking expenses, and producing financial reports. In addition to saving time, automation reduces the number of human errors. Using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) result in a high level of accuracy.

Scalability

When it comes to outsourced accounting services, one of the most significant benefits lies in the ease with which the business can expand without requiring any additional employees. Most accounting firms in Singapore can accommodate small to large corporate sizes when it comes to accounting services. If a business gets a sudden growth in its finances, there will be no requirement to hire extra accountants. The outsourced accounting service will step up to the job without any lags.

Conclusion

Taking accounting into your own hands may not be the most feasible option in the current Singapore’s economic climate. Businesses and start-ups are popping up all over the country, and starting up a business is no easy feat. Consider the following: registering a business, preparing all the documentations required under the Companies Act, getting licenses and permits, and registering for Goods and Services Tax (GST). These are time-consuming tasks that cannot be done by a single individual. That is why outsourced accounting services are so prevalent in Singapore today.

Connect with us today to get a suitable package under our accounting services for your business in Singapore.

Challenges that e-Commerce Brings to Retailers: 7 Tips on Navigating Change

Challenges that e-Commerce Brings to Retailers: 7 Tips on Navigating Change

Introduction

On 30 October 2020, one of Singapore’s biggest names in retail announced its closure. Robinsons will be closing its last two stores in Singapore: its flagship store at The Heeren, and its 85,000 sq ft department store in Raffles City Shopping Centre. Robinsons Singapore has long been a fixture in the city, being in operation for 162 years. More than a business, the well-loved brand has been a huge part of Singapore, creating traditions and evolving through the times with the society it serves. The announcement sent shockwaves around the city, but it was imminent for retail giant Robinsons, which has seen over six years of operational losses.

End of an Era

The first Robinsons store opened in 1858, functioning mainly as a grocery store. By 1957, it has established prominence and became renowned all through the Far East. The conglomerate also stood through unfortunate disasters – its Raffles Chambers store was bombed during World War II, and the store was razed by a massive fire in 1972, with nine people left dead in the blaze.

In the 2000s, the company started to expand and restructure. A new $30 million store opened in Raffles City and from 2006 to 2008, the company went through changes in ownership, with Indonesia’s Lippo Group, and the Al-Futtaim Group of Dubai holding stakes in the company. In 2013, the new flagship store at The Heeren was opened.

In a bid to boost its decreasing sales, Robinsons launched its e-commerce platform in 2016. However, the shrinking demand for retail renting and the shift of shopping preferences from brick-and-mortar stores to virtual continued to plague the company. The COVID-19 epidemic and its economic repercussions proved to be the nail in the coffin for Robinsons. The former shopping giant in Singapore is closing down.

Why is e-Commerce the Biggest Challenge for Traditional Retailers?

Although many were saddened by it, the closure of Robinsons did not come as a total surprise. Physical retailers from all over the world are closing down. Giant brands like Walmart, JCPenney, Neiman Marcus, Forever 21, and Sears have all closed shops. The convenience and accessibility of online shopping have caused a massive shift in buying behaviours and a fast-dropping demand for brick-and-mortar shops, shopping malls, and department stores.

The changing retail landscape removed stores and physical outlets from the equation. eCommerce opened a new dimension in shopping, one that is preferred by most consumers today. Here are five major advantages of e-Commerce that are plaguing department store retailers:

1. Online platforms are cheaper

Setting up and maintaining an online store is a lot cheaper than a brick-and-mortar outlet. The costs of building a website and an online store are just a fraction of the costs of constructing, decorating, and putting together a brick-and-mortar shop. Overhead costs are also lowered as less staff are required to man an online shop, compared to a physical one. No rent, electricity, and water bills!

2. Sellers can set up their own shops

Anyone can easily set up their own online shop or hire an outsourcing firm in Singapore to build one for them. This convenience gives the sellers an option to go directly to their customers, thus effectively lowering costs and increasing profitability. The low barriers for new retailers to set up virtual stores further decreased the need for sellers to rent retail spaces in physical departmental stores.

3. Shopping is more convenient

Convenience and accessibility of online shopping tipped buyers and customers to favour the virtual stores. Multiple payment options give buyers the flexibility and ease of shopping. The remote and cashless transactions afforded by e-Commerce resolved many shopping problems during the pandemic with its lockdowns and travel restrictions.

4. Operations are streamlined

No more restocking of shelves, cash handling, keeping the store neat and tidy, price tagging, holiday staffing, and tiresome inventory monitoring. With e-Commerce, everything is automated, thus, operations are fast, simple, and efficient.

5. Round-the-clock operations and worldwide reach

As consumers flock online, shopping becomes something that can be done around the clock as there are no fixed operating hours for online stores. You continue selling while you and your staff are asleep, at a meeting, or on vacation. You are also maximising your reach as you can now sell to anyone around the world.

How can Retailers Overcome the Threats of e-Commerce?

The overwhelming edge that e-Commerce offers to consumers is proving to be a threat to retailers – one that has reduced many big names and retail brands to bankruptcy. As many welcomed the convenience and accessibility of shopping online, not all retailers are adaptive enough to accommodate the change. Thus, many of them are rapidly losing customers and losing the business.

Change is always a tumultuous stage. But, oftentimes, it is the only option we have if we are to survive the evolution and stay in business. Here are some tips that could help business organisations weather the threats of e-Commerce and the massive disruption it has brought to the business industry.

1. Embrace change

The best way to overcome the threat of e-Commerce is to embrace it. Recognise its advantages and apply them to your organisation. Launching an online store will significantly widen your client base, give your current customers more options, and increase revenue. Expand your reach and operations by establishing an online presence, on top of your brick-and-mortar stores.

Take advantage of government grants such as the Digital Resilience Bonus, where you can receive up to $10,000 for adopting digital solutions in accounting, HR/payroll, inventory management, data analytics, e-Commerce, e-Procurement, food ordering and delivery. Enterprise Singapore (ESG) also provides a 90% support on qualifying costs (capped at $9,000) for retailers looking to list their products for sale online via one of four e-Commerce platforms providers: Amazon, Shopee, Qoo10 and Lazada Singapore. For those unfamiliar with the grant applications, support can be found in SME Centres, or you can opt to work with a corporate service provider in Singapore with proven experience in helping businesses go digital effectively.

2. Highlight your brand

What makes your store or shop unique? What brings people in? Is it the family-friendly ambience of the store? The trendy and fashionable selection of goods? Is it the little extras in the services you offer? Remind people of why they love your store. Highlight your brand and provide the special shopping experience that only you can provide, whether it’s online or offline.

3. Improve your response time

Whether you add a virtual store to your mix or not, it is important to strengthen your customer engagement. e-Commerce has spoilt shoppers with the expectation of instant gratification. People are no longer willing to wait. Prioritise your customer service responsiveness, whether is it answering queries, addressing complaints, and delivering goods. Make sure you provide your customers with what they need, as soon as possible. Empower your customer service team by allocating more human resources to provide personalised support to your customers, while outsourcing administrative tasks such as by engaging accounting firms in Singapore to streamline other parts of your business operations.

Platform responsiveness is also important – Recapture your sales lost to slow or unresponsive webpages by doing regular checks on your site speed and optimising webpage loading times. Work with an outsourced web agency or business consultant who can help to accelerate your business digitalisation.

4. Study your competitors

In the changing business climate, take a closer look at how your competitors are doing. They are your best sources of information and guidance on how to navigate this crucial stage. For the old-timers that have retained their stature, what changes have they adopted? What practices have they retained? For the newcomers, what are they doing right? What is their edge? For those who failed – where did they fail? Learn from these lessons and make use of data and statistics to inform your business strategy and decisions.

5. Bank on customer loyalty

You can alienate loyal customers by changing or not changing at all. The key to securing their loyalty is to know your customers. Conducting a survey or doing interviews will give you a good idea of how they stand on accepting changes. Age, location, social standing, and income range of your target audience are just some of the factors to consider when deciding whether or not to make the change.

6. Invest in a secure platform

Online security is fundamental to any virtual store or website. Ensuring the security of your customers’ information is also a company compliance requirement in Singapore. People are aware and are just too afraid of scams, frauds, and other cybercrimes that are pervasive on the internet. If you are making the move to e-Commerce, make sure that you are building a secure environment for you and your customers, be it via ensuring personal data protection, or using trusted and secure payment gateways.

7. Innovate your marketing plan

The internet has evolved from a connectivity tool into a place where people socialise, communicate, work, and shop. Your current marketing strategy may no longer be the most efficient to reach your target market. Television viewing is on the decline, newspapers are all but phased out, and local radio stations are no longer the primary music source of the masses. Study where you can reach your customers at the present, reassess if your marketing strategies still apply, and make the necessary changes.

Conclusion

Need support to take on the challenges of the digital age for your business? We offer comprehensive business and accounting services in Singapore. Connect with us today to discuss more of your company compliance requirements in Singapore. We look forward to helping you identify your business needs and providing you with efficient and holistic solutions.

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