Small businesses play a crucial role in the modern-day economy. An estimated 65% of new job opportunities are created by small businesses, which means they drive the economy from various angles.
According to recent statistics, about 60% of people in Singapore now turn to online stores when they want to shop. Many people are even conducting their research at a physical store but end up making the final purchase online. An estimated 24% of local shoppers only prefer online shopping today.
With these statistics in mind, while also taking recent global developments into account, the time for digitalization among businesses is more crucial than ever. The Singapore Government has already devised a plan to help small businesses in the country gain an online presence in order to provide growth for the local economy.
Digitalization of Business Process
The standard operation process for local businesses in Singapore, as well as other global regions, is to serve the consumer at a physical location. The company would have consultants available at the office that can provide assistance to the consumer. The consumer is expected to come to the office or store in order to access the products or services required.
With modern advancements in technology and the internet, in particular, consumers are turning toward digitalized systems to gain access to what they need. This means people are no longer willing to visit a local office when they need access to a service like an accountant. Many consumers are even turning to the internet when they are looking to buy appliances, like a new stove. There has also been an increase in the demand for buying groceries and other daily essentials on the internet.
Considering the turn to digital properties by consumers, company owners need to ensure they are able to serve these individuals.
This is where the digitalization of business processes comes into mind. Setting up an eCommerce store that sells products and services online would be considered the most basic example of digitalization for a local business.
An eCommerce system allows the business owner to list their products and services on the internet. These systems often connect to a payment gateway and can even be integrated with certain shipping providers. With an interconnected system, the process of selling online can be streamlined, making it easier to ship out and process orders.
The digitalization of a local business does not only include setting up an eCommerce store. There are several other ways that digital technology and the internet can be used to streamline processes conducted within a small business.
Customer data can be manded on the internet, for example. Even when selling in a physical store, there are still ways that the internet can help ease the process of processing transactions and dealing with customer accounts.
As an example, a small business owner may decide to get rid of the old cash register. Instead, a computer with a barcode scanner is installed, along with a cloud-based POS system. This system makes it easier for customers to pay with their cards. Items are scanned and automatically processed into the cloud-based system. The system then prints out receipts and can even add customer data to a profile if required. In such a case, serving a particular customer again in the future becomes easier.
Digitalization of Finance and Accounting
For any business, big or small, keeping up with accounting and staying on top of company finances – these are critical factors that ultimately contribute to the overall success. When a business owner fails to do accounting properly, it could wreak havoc on the business in the future. The owner will not be aware of the finances available to the business at any point in time – which means they could spend more than the business can actually afford.
For many businesses in Singapore, accounting is still being done by pen and paper. While this traditional method has its ups, it makes the process of keeping on top of everything significantly harder.
This is why businesses in Singapore are now also advised to turn to digitalization in terms of their financing and accounting operations.
Several cloud-based digital systems have been developed to help ease the process of capturing transactions, dealing with client data and orders, processing payments, sending out invoices, and more.
There are singular platforms that can be utilized to provide all the sales and accounting functions on one dashboard. This creates a streamlined process for the business owner, the accountant, and other authorized employees.
Staff appointing at the till points would capture client data, scan items, and accept payment in the form of cash or card. These transactions are processed through a POS (point of sale) system, which is connected to the cloud-based accounting software.
The accountant has no need to manually enter the incoming transactions that are made at the till points, as they are automatically imported into the system. The same applies to sales made through the eCommerce system that was developed for the business. Customers can easily register an account, add products to their cart, and follow an easy checkout process – the data for these transactions are also automatically sent toward the central dashboard.
Any external transactions, such as business expenses when buying equipment, can be easily recorded on the central dashboard. Automated calculations are used to provide an up-to-date view of the current business situation.
The accountant can easily extract data regarding the past month’s income and expenses or export an annual statement often by simply clicking a few buttons on the dashboard.
Small businesses with limited resources can sometimes not afford to pay high fees when hiring accounting. Digitalization and the adoption of certain systems may even cut out the need for a permanent employee who deals with accounting. The business owners can often have the process set up to be almost completely automated, which means they have a digitized accountant that performs the appropriate operations for them.
How the SG Government Support Digitalisation For Local Businesses
In the 2017 budget plan for Singapore, the Finance Minister of Singapore, Minister Heng Swee Keat, discussed the importance of adopting a more digitized approach among local small businesses. During the budget announcement, it was said that helping businesses gain a presence on the internet and utilize the latest digitalization techniques to streamline internal processes become a priority.
The announcement of these plans has a double-action impact within Singapore. It would ultimately help the small business owner have a more efficient way of dealing with customer data, sales, and more. At the same time, by helping small businesses grow, the economy within Singapore would also see a positive impact.
While a large part of the budget announced will go toward the digitalization of small business operations, the Finance Minister did note that money will not simply be thrown around. Instead, the Government is working to develop a procedure by which small businesses can be assisted based on their current situation.
The small business owner would need to identify their needs and provide a comprehensive overview of its current standing. A primary idea behind this budget and technique is to focus on those small business owners with limited to no experience in the digital world.
The Finance Minister announced the system as the “Go Digital Programme.” It would focus on a variety of industries within Singapore, including businesses that provide the following services:
- Food services
- Cleaning services
- Security services
- Wholesale trade
These particular industries were selected as the major parts of the program, as they hold the most potential for digitalization at the moment.
The SG Government has implemented a range of SME centers. These centers are equipped with staff that is highly skilled in working with digitalization solution. The small business owner is able to gain in-person advice and assistance by simply visiting one of these centers. Additionally, SME Technology Hubs have also been founded, with the idea of providing more specialized advice and assistance. The Technology Hubs are to be approached if the SME Centers are unable to provide details on the specific needs of the business owner.
The Government is also setting up ICT solutions that are pre-made, as part of the Go Digital Programme. This would streamline the process of helping small business owners adopt new technologies in the workplace. It essentially reduces the overall costs involved, as a system has already been developed to provide the digitalization functions required by the small business.
Additional funds are being implemented into appropriate cybersecurity systems. With the digitalization of businesses in Singapore, there comes a risk of cybersecurity threats, hacks, and attacks. Thus, appropriate security systems are developed to help create stronger firewalls within local business networks.
Consumers are increasingly turning toward the internet when they are looking to buy products or services. Still, many small businesses in Singapore do not have access to the resources needed to serve consumers online. New plans implemented by the SG Government will make it possible for small business owners to gain a digital presence. The digitalization of business processes makes the company more efficient and yields a new audience to cater toward.