Internet penetration in Southeast Asia has grown tremendously in recent years and the pandemic has further proved to accelerate this growth. The region's internet economy grew 40% year over year in 2019 to $100 billion thus proving the lucrative market that going online has to offer to businesses.
In the current economic environment, we all know that it’s almost impossible for businesses to recover completely from doing offline sales alone.
For many micro-businesses, the concept of going digital seemed very distant before the pandemic brought countries across the globe under lockdown and paralyzing the economic sector and daily business operations.
Now, after months of seeing drastic declines in sales, micro-businesses are finally taking their leap of faith and going digital for the continuity of their businesses. According to Enterprise Singapore (ESG), more than 3,500 businesses started their transformation projects from January to April, The agency said this figure is 20 % higher than last year. With that said, now let’s dive more into how going digital is transforming these businesses.
Malaysia’s MSME Recovering with Digital Tools
To help micro and small-to-medium enterprises recover in this post-pandemic economic condition, the Malaysian government in parallel to the Pelan Jana Semula Ekonomi Negara (PENJANA) has introduced the Micro and SME E-Commerce campaign. Under the campaign, Fave has launched an e-Cashback initiative together with the government of Malaysia to help businesses boost sales and stimulate more return customers.
Under this campaign each micro merchant can claim up to RM10,000 in e-Cashback to drive high-volume and quality transactions by rewarding customers with more Cashback, the more they spend the more Casback they earn.
Eligible Fave merchants that currently have active FavePay with Cashback, FaveDeals, and/or eCards will be automatically enrolled in the MSMEs E-commerce Campaign to ensure a seamless enrollment process.
The limited-time campaign started on the 1st of July and will end on the 30th of September 2020 and all eligible businesses are encouraged to register on the Fave platform as early as possible to claim the allocated budget for them earlier to start enjoying more sales. Find out more here.
With the economy in recovery, the Micro and SME E-Commerce campaign highlight on helping businesses accelerate recovery through adopting digital tools to reach more consumers and enhance overall business processes.
Small Stores Partnering with Online Platforms
In light of the disruption to business operations, micro-businesses have joined forces with existing online platforms to leverage their massive consumer’s database and other features.
Micro-businesses turn to these platforms as they provide a variety of ready-to-use tools and the privilege of becoming part of their ecosystem which gives businesses access to reach a wider set of customers.
We are seeing grocers, from small to big working with ride-hailing platforms across Southeast Asia to get groceries delivered to those that prefer staying at home.
Hundreds of local farmers and small fresh produce sellers have also started using Lazada to sell their goods as the platform offers logistics assistance to help local farmers in Malaysia sell their produce on its platform. As a result, these businesses were able to deliver their products to more consumers and reduce wastage.
On the other hand, approximately 600 retailers have also signed up to join online platforms such as Amazon, Lazada, Shopee, and Qoo10 through the E-Commerce Booster Package as an effort to expand their reach.
With the growing number of mobile internet users, we forecast that the number of users joining an existing online platform will only increase and that’s why partnerships with existing online platforms are not only critical in boosting sales but also contributes to making your business more discoverable to consumers.
Singapore’s Heartland Going Digital
As an example, the Enterprise Singapore (ESG), the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), and in partnership with Fave is helping micro-businesses to reach more consumers by adopting digital tools through the heartland initiative in Singapore.
As the global pandemic crisis has also heightened the need for these traditional merchants to go digital with some outlets having seen turnover drop by as much as 80%, the initiative is crucial in helping heartland merchants find suitable digital solutions offered at reasonable costs to help their business adapt to current consumer trends.
Fave as an official digital solution provider for this initiative following a call-for-collaboration in May 2020 is determined to bring these immediate benefits to businesses:
- Safe transactions with FavePay contactless payment
- Increased sales revenue through online marketing with FaveDeals
- Drive return customers through Cashback and eCards loyalty programs
- Better adapt to the new normal with an easy-to-use digital merchant platform - FaveBiz
With this, traditional businesses can easily perform the on-boarding process themselves in a few simple steps. Fave is not only easy to use but also offers a range of ready-to-use digital tools that will enhance the overall workflow for these businesses.
Affected businesses can reach out to Fave or recommend another business by dropping an email at email@example.com or drop your inquiries via WhatsApp to know more about the initiative.
Malaysia’s Night Hawker Stalls Go Digital
With so many digital tools made accessible for businesses of all sizes, we are seeing a drastic shift in digital adoption by micro-enterprises and this comes with a new set of improved services.
From food and beverage to beauty and retails, we all know that providing a good customer experience is important to small and medium-sized businesses as the market is overpopulated with all kinds of competitors.
With more micro-businesses adopting digital tools, customers now have the privilege to access the purchasing experience online. One obvious example of this is the Gerai Go Digital program that helps hawkers and food stalls businesses sell their food online as a Pasar Malam Box.
Image Source: eFM
It replaces the need for consumers to physically visit hawker stalls to get their favorite street food. This not only prevents massive traffic on Pasar Malam sites but also provides more convenience to consumers to purchase from the comfort of their homes.
Singapore’s Wet Market Experience on Your Feed
As people turn to online purchasing, micro-businesses are fully using this to their advantage to drive more customers to the business. For micro-businesses that are backed with limited capital, they are going digital to attract the massive potential customers online and to rely less on physical efforts on word-of-mouth marketing.
Aside from that, going online ensures that their product information will always be available 24/7 for potential customers to access.
As an example, Singapore’s infamous Tekka wet market in the Little India district is now going digital. Even as quintessential as this wet market is to households in Singapore, stall owners noticed an immediate impact on demand and decreased visitors as customers are worried about the risk of the virus spread at a crowded and busy market.
Image Source: Asia One
To ensure the livelihood of these businesses, Singapore's Infocomm Media Development Authority collaborated with a group of stall owners at Tekka Wet Market to bring the wet market shopping experience directly to people's homes, using Facebook Live.
Going digital has allowed stall owners to continue serving their customers who no longer feel safe attending the market in person, and reach customers in different localities, thanks to free island-wide delivery.
Micro and Small Businesses Accessing Digital Reports
For businesses, tracking day-to-day progress using simple key indicators can help make a big difference in terms of business planning and fund allocation.
Knowing your daily performances enables you to analyze your business growth, predict income, or compare profits by different periods. Many small-to-medium-sized businesses have gone on to adopt tools that can provide them access to digital reports and tracking.
This helps them to have a clearer vision of their business’s capacity and helps to figure out factors that affect their business success. Unfortunately, for most micro-businesses, accessing data is never an easy task. It’s either you don’t have the right tools, don't know how to access data or how to analyze data.
Adopting digital tools that can help to track a sales history and find out what new services or favorable offers to suggest can help you get a clearer idea of what should be your next step if you want to grow the business.
Fortunately, now micro-businesses will no longer be disadvantaged in this area as FaveBiz offers free data and insights to all its merchants either big or small. FaveBiz Insights gives you access to your business performance as well as deeper insight into your customer base.
You can also track and compare sales, discover more about your customers’ trends, habits and behavior. You can also review and respond to your customer’s ratings.
Investing in digital tools means that you are investing in your business’s progress. It helps you to sell more and make your daily process smarter.
According to the SME Digital Transformation Study in Singapore, small businesses that embrace digitalization can expect to see average revenue gains of 26%.
Image Source: Singapore News Center
The companies that do transform digitally are creating highly engaged customers. Highly engaged customers are 6 times more likely to try a new product or service from their preferred brand. 4 times more likely to have referred your brand to their friends, family, and connections
2 times more likely to make a purchase with their preferred brand, even when a competitor has a better product or price
Technology has proven to facilitate so many opportunities and countless businesses and many more are eager and ready to join ASEAN’s digital revolution.
Now is the time for micro-businesses to embrace digital empowerment and adapt to new changes to stay relevant. With economies temporarily crippled across the globe, digital literacy can salvage this incredible untapped power and potential of MSMEs.
Thus why it's crucial to understand how digital tools can upgrade your services and help you accommodate your customers’ needs, tailor a business model that will serve your customers better, and importantly improve the productivity of your business.