Monthly Archives: November 2015
30 NovNovember 30, 2015
GOOGLE’S “GO GLOBAL”: 3 KEY TAKEAWAYS FOR SINGAPORE’S SMES
Recently, Stridec was invited to attend the launch of “Go Global”, a Google-led initiative that aims to help Singapore SMEs in their quest to go international. This new programme will equip Singapore-based SMEs with the tools and training needed to quite literally “go global”, using the digital space as a launching pad.
According to Joanna Flint, Country Director of Google Singapore, about 60% of people around the world either researched about a product or service, or made a purchase online last year. As such, the web is an ideal platform for businesses looking to export their goods and services.
The Singapore government recognises and encourages this, as the “Go Global” initiative is backed by key government agencies, such as IE Singapore and Spring Singapore, with relevant grants and other assistance schemes made available to SMEs that are ready to take the next leap forward with their business.
This is great news for all business owners who have been wanting to get on the e-commerce bandwagon but until now have little or no idea of how and where to start. If you are exposed to this wealth of information for the first time, it can be rather exhilarating but at the same time a little overwhelming. For your benefit, we have filtered away the dry and technical and give you the main points to get you started.
Here are the key takeaways from this initiative that you should take note of:
1. Analyse, analyse, analyseBeing a Google-led initiative, It should be no surprise that one of the most important things that was talked about was the importance of data collection and the intelligence that can be acquired from it through proper analysis.
Without the discipline to collate data and make sense of it, your business is practically flying in the blind, and in the digital age, that is equivalent to committing business suicide.
Fortunately, there are very powerful (and free!) tools such as Google Analytics and Google Trends that can help you extract important information about your target markets, your website audience and the relevance of your website to potential customers, among a whole range of metrics that you can look into.
2. Learn from those who have done itSMEs who have found success online and now span their businesses across multiple regions and cities were showcased at the “Go Global” launch, with their owners coming on stage to relate their stories and how they have grown over the years to reach where they are today.
All of them have something in common: and that is that they embraced the digital space very early on, and committed resources - in terms of both time and money - to integrate the various digital disciplines, such as online selling, social media marketing, data analytics and so on, into their existing operations so that the mentality and culture of going global was ingrained into everyone in the organisation from the beginning.
Their successes - with online sales contributing between 15% and 40% to the total revenue - are testaments to the efforts that these SMEs have been put in to carve a name for themselves on the global stage.
You should be encouraged to know that all these success stories are homegrown and started small, either in a non-descript retail outlet or even from home. Learn what they have gone through, the mistakes they made along the way, and apply such knowledge into your business so that you can also achieve similar success.
3. E-commerce is the future of businessThe writing has been on the wall for many years now, but never so pronounced and obviously until recently. The advent of the web has tore down geographical barriers and transformed the way consumers and businesses buy products and services.
The world is coming to our doorstep, whether we like it or not, as more and more Singaporeans (6 out of every 10) buy online from overseas sites such as Amazon.com, JCPenny.com and the likes. There isn’t a distinction between the domestic and international markets anymore: we now operate in a single global market connected via internet technologies.
Coupled with the increasing costs of rent and manpower among other fixed overheads that come with a business’ physical operations, SMEs can no longer think of online commerce as a peripheral channel that is good to have; it is now critical to their very survival.
ConclusionIn today’s business, internationalisation is one of the key areas companies has to consider to grow and stay competitive. The digital space is the ideal platform for SMEs to reach out to the world directly and it is encouraging that industry leaders such as Google is leading the charge and taking a proactive approach to create a community to help Singapore SMEs grow.
If you want to find more about how the digital space and e-commerce can help your business go global, feel free to email us at email@example.com.
To find out more about Google's "Go Global" initiative, visit: goglobal.withgoogle.com.
HOW TO ACCELERATE E-COMMERCE SUCCESS THROUGH SINGAPORE GOVERNMENT GRANTS
The e-commerce scene in Southeast Asia is set to continue its explosive growth: Frost and Sullivan projects that the B2C e-commerce in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam will is set to jump almost fivefold, from US$7 billion in 2013 to US$34.5 billion by 2018.
For Singaporean SMEs with an eye on the regional e-commerce pie, investment into e-commerce enablement activities such as strategy development, technical implementation, as well as marketing campaigns, can represent significant upfront investment that might lead to cashflow concerns.
Fortunately, the Singapore Government has always been supportive of the SME sector’s ambitions to innovate and expand business outwards beyond local shores, and has a slew of grants and assistance schemes specially designed to help SMEs achieve their e-commerce goals.
Having helped over 200 SMEs embark on their e-commerce enablement journey, we recommend the following 3-step approach with the relevant supporting grants that SMEs can adopt to realise their e-commerce capabilities:
1. Formulate an E-commerce Enablement Strategy with Spring Singapore’s Capability Development Grant (CDG)Far too often, companies jump into e-commerce with the simplistic mindset that all they need is an online shopping cart addition to their existing website. Nothing can be further from the truth.
E-commerce enablement for the uninitiated can take serious toll on existing operations such as administration and operations, not to mention customer service. Is your staff mentally prepared and adequately trained to handle the differences between servicing customers in a physical setting as compared to a virtual one? How would you accept payments and how would you protect yourself from fraudulent purchases? What is your delivery policy and what kind of logistical advantages you can offer to customers that would give you an edge over the competition? These are just some examples of questions that you need to ask yourself to properly assess the business’ ability to perform an e-commerce rollout.
To be successful in your e-commerce endeavors, a well-thought enablement strategy and roadmap must be crafted and put in place, to give direction and focus to the overall e-commerce efforts.
In support of this, Spring Singapore provides the Capability Development Grant (CDG) that SMEs can tap on to engage an e-commerce consultant to guide you through the entire process of analysing your strengths and weakness, identify the key areas of improvement and work with you to formulate an overall strategy and roadmap to develop your e-commerce capabilities.
CDG provides grant support of up to 70% of the consultancy costs in developing your e-commerce enablement strategy.
2. Offset E-commerce Development Using IRAS’ Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC)Now that you have the strategy and action plan, it’s time to implement your e-commerce offering. Sometimes it can mean enhancing and extending upon your existing website platform to provide a section that allows customers to browse products and select for direct purchase (B2C) or order (B2B). Other times it may require a total revamp of your existing website architecture to provide a unique e-commerce shopping and buying experience from the ground up.
A more ambitious e-commerce enablement strategy can also lead you to an omni-channel approach where your e-commerce storefront is integrated with your physical retail and social media touchpoints, creating a seamless offline-to-online experience for your customers.
Such developments require one or more IT solution providers with the requisite technical expertise to deliver a solution that caters to your current needs and at the same time support your future expansion plans.
SMEs can leverage on the Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) scheme administered by IRAS to offset up to 60% of the development costs in cash payout, or 400% in tax deductions/allowances.
3. Tap on IE Singapore’s Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) Grant to Sell to the WorldYou have formulated a plan and you have developed your e-commerce platform. Now it is time to go out to the world and start selling.
Depending on the nature of your product and/or services, the country or region you are targeting, as well as the customer demographic that you are selling to, the marketing campaign can be any combination of search engine marketing and/or optimisation, social media outreach, and listing subscriptions on popular international online marketplaces such as Amazon.com and eBay.
If your offering is B2B, you may also consider engaging a marketing agency to plan and carry out awareness programmes in the region that you are targeting to reach out to your prospective customers.
IE Singapore supports such activities undertaken by SMEs with the Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) grant, which helps defray up to 70% of the costs incurred, capped at $20,000 per company per fiscal year for the next 3 years.
Your Next StepsWith global e-ecommerce players such as Rocket Internet, Sequoia Capital and SoftBank Corp investing millions into ecommerce start-ups, e-commerce space is THE sector to be in for any business with serious regional and even global ambitions. Coupled with the strong Singapore government support, now is the perfect time for local SMEs to utilize government grants and take their e-commerce business to the next level.
Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to know more about how your company can tap on the grants to accelerate your e-commerce success.
16 NovNovember 16, 2015
5 REASONS FOR RETAILERS TO DUMP CARD TERMINALS FOR E-PAYMENT
As e-commerce technology progresses, the lines between offline and online retail are beginning to blur. Innovative businesses have started to adapt to this new trend by incorporating e-commerce processes into their conventional brick-and-mortar retail operations.
In the recently concluded Affordable Art Fair (Singapore) Autumn Edition, one of our clients, Tembusu Art Gallery did just that, offering art buyers the ability to pay using their credit cards via an e-payment facility that STRIDEC provided.
By using STRIDEC’s e-payment facility, Tembusu Art Gallery need not rely on the standard card terminal processing provided by the art fair’s organisers, but instead is able to conduct credit card processing directly at its booth, significantly cutting down queuing time and providing a much smoother buying experience for the customers.
Here are 5 reasons why traditional retail businesses can benefit for offering e-payment facility over the traditional credit card terminal processing:
1. Fees are lowerTraditional card terminals require a subscription and rental agreement with the bank that comes with a fixed setup fee and annual service fee, on top of the processing fee levied per card transaction.
In comparison, an e-payment facility can be turned on without any setup fee and annual subscription fee. Businesses do not have to worry about incurring costs when the e-payment facility is not in use.
Additionally, banks tend to maintain and levy different card processing charges for different types of businesses and transactions, based on an arbitrary risk value that the banks attach to each business type. But with e-payment facility, the processing fee percentage is always the same, regardless of your business nature.
2. Set-ups are fasterRetailers have to submit an application to the bank for a card processing terminal to be made available for use. Such a process can take days or even weeks to get approval. This delays business readiness and is a non-option especially for retailers with active participation and sales activities at trade shows and exhibitions.
By contrast, e-payment facility can be set up and put to live use usually within just 1 working day. This allows retailers the ability to provide payment options to customers in just about any situation under short notice, increasing rate of sales conversion.
3. Multiple checkouts are possibleE-payment does not require specialised hardware to work; it can be used straight out of a tablet or mobile device without configuration. E-payment can also be used across multiple devices at the same time, allowing more customers to be served and transactions processed simultaneously.
4. Payment cycles are shorterRetailers typically get their sales proceeds credited into their bank accounts 6 weeks after the transactions have taken place. This can sometimes create unfavourable cashflow situations especially for smaller-sized businesses.
But with e-payment, sales proceeds are usually credited to the businesses within 2 weeks of the transactions. Depending on the business volume, the time to credit back to retailers can be as short as 5 working days.
5. Compatible with existing POS systemsWithout the technical limitations and constraints imposed proprietary hardware that comes with physical card processing terminals, it is easier, faster and cheaper to integrate e-payment facility into existing software systems, allowing effective information exchange and report generation of sale transaction data.
ConclusionThe proliferation and increasing ease of use of e-commerce technology has allowed alternate means of payment collection such as e-payment becoming a credible replacement for traditional card terminal processing.
Take advantage of e-payment today and start using it in your retail business to improve cost savings and operational effectiveness. Feel free to email us at email@example.com should you have any queries.
2 NovNovember 02, 2015
RETAIL IS DYING: 10 MUST-DOS TO MAKE A MILLION VIA E-COMMERCE INSTEAD
According to SingStat's Monthly Retail Sales and Food & Beverage Service Indices report released in October 2015, retail sales excluding motor vehicles is up only 1.3% year-on-year. In addition to stagnant demand, retailers are facing keen competition, with Straits Times recently reporting that once-successful fashion brand M)phosis has shut all its retail stores in Singapore.
On the other hand, the instant global exposure of an e-commerce storefront means that any business has the potential to become a sensational success in quick time following in the footsteps of giants such as Amazon, Zappos and Alibaba.com as well as regional powerhouses like Zalora and Lazada.
However, just being on the internet does not automatically ensure success; it is just the first step in a series of well-planned and well-executed actions that bring these e-commerce brands to where they are today.
Here are 10 must-dos for your e-commerce operations to bring you closer to your first million dollars in e-commerce sales.
1. Invest in a good websiteWithout a physical storefront, the website is your main touchpoint with customers. Make sure it delivers both a good shopping and transaction experience that will keep your customers coming back for more.
Clean design and layout, ease of navigation, useful tips and product information and speedy accessibility are just some of the factors that go into making your website stand out from the competition.
In e-commerce, failing to make a good first impression can be fatal.
2. Go mobileMore and more people are accessing the internet everyday via mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets as opposed to desktops and laptops.
75% of Singaporeans use the internet on mobile phones to compare products and seek out deals. 64% of mobile users will look elsewhere if the site they visit is not mobile-optimised. Your site could be turning away customers to your competitors right now without knowing it.
Being mobile-optimised or mobile friendly also has positive impact to your search engine rankings. In April this year, Google has announced that moving forward, a site’s mobile optimisation and friendliness will be a factor in determining how well it ranks on Google search results.
3. Make it easy for customers to pay youMany online retailers make the mistake of optimising the shopping experience, but not the transaction experience, often leaving the last step of a checkout process - payment - as an afterthought.
45% of all shopping cart abandonments are related to payment during the checkout process. In other words, if you fail to make payment an effortless process during checkout on your site, you risk losing almost half of your potential sales.
Provide the adequate payment methods relevant to the paying preference and behaviour of your target customers. Eliminate unnecessary steps and avoid asking customers for unimportant information during the payment process to increase the chance of the customer completing the transaction and making the sale.
4. Find a need, fill the needWithout a physical limitation, it can at times be tempting to go the way of established online marketplaces such as Ebay, Lazada, Rakuten etc and sell everything under the sun on your e-commerce storefront. Don’t.
Unless you have the resources and financial muscle to go toe-to-toe with the above-mentioned online marketplaces, the most effective way to carve a name for your online business is to focus on a niche market and serve it really, really well.
Some of the most famous and talked-about online brands made their name by selling only a particular type of products. Even the great Amazon started its business selling just books.
5. Offer free delivery/shippingUnless you are selling a service or digital good, at the end of the day, an order made on your website has to be physically delivered to the customer. Savvy online buyers know that delivery/shipping fees add to the total cost of purchase and would be wary and hesitant to buy if such additional charges are not indicated clearly.
Go one better. Beat your competition by making it simple and straightforward for your customers with a free delivery/shipping promise.
The cost you bear to offer free delivery/shipping is really just another kind of advertising to attract more customers to you.
6. Offer superior customer supportAgain, because there is no physical interaction with the customer, it is critical that you offer the best possible customer support.
Nobody understands this better than Amazon. One of its policies is that every staff member is required to serve at customer care desk at least once in a year, and this policy cuts across all personnel within the organisation from the CEO and founder to interns.
Offer a range of channels for the customer to communicate with you, such as email, live chat and internet calling among others. Always be prompt to respond to customer enquiries and concerns so that they feel comfortable parting their dollars with you.
7. Social media marketingWe now live in a world where friends and family members spend more time communicating with one another on social media platforms rather than face-to-face.
Given the pervasiveness of Facebook, Instagram, Youtube and Twitter to name a few of the biggest social media channels, social media is one of the best ways to get the word on your product or service out to your target customers.
Social media allows you to engage and interact with your customers directly and often instantaneously, discussing about your products, address their concerns and questions, as well as offering free advice and tips. Such activities go a long way in creating a strong bond and following with your customers, increasing affinity and loyalty to your brand.
8. Take quality photos of your productsIf your products don’t look good, they are not going to sell. It’s as simple as that.
Conventional retailers know this to be a cardinal truth. Hence the millions of dollars retailers poured into visual merchandising and storefront display year in and year out, just so that their products can be presented in the best possible light.
It is more true for an e-commerce business; your product visual is more often than not the only reference that your customers use to make a judgement on whether to consider your product.
Invest the time and resources to put into place a process for taking high-resolution, beautiful product photos whenever you have new products, so that you can always update your e-commerce storefront with great looking images to attract potential buyers.
9. Encourage product reviewsOnline shoppers love to see what other customers have to say about a product before making a purchase decision. The best examples of reviews in action can be found on airline and hotel booking sites.
It goes without saying that more positive reviews is instrumental in getting high sales. Even with negative reviews, it presents an opportunity for you to respond truthfully about your product and how you will improve it in future, thereby enhancing the authenticity and customer-centric focus of your business.
In addition, search engines such as Google love customer reviews. More reviews will help improve your search engine rankings in the long run.
10. Sell to existing customersAll marketers know that it is much easier and cost a lot less to maintain and sell to existing customers than acquire new ones.
It is easy to keep the relationship with existing customers warm through automated systems such as email marketing, referral campaigns and loyalty reward or membership programmes to name a few.
WIth smart use of your e-commerce platform and available customer data, you can create with little effort a whole ecosystem of continuous engagement with your customers so that they always come back for more.
ConclusionSeveral of Stridec's clients such as SkyWatches and ProCanadaDrugs.com have already put the above must-dos into actions, and well surpassed their first million in e-commerce sales. By following in our clients' tried-and-tested footsteps, your e-commerce business journey can also become highly profitable and rewarding.