A new mobile e-commerce solution has been developed to assist thousands of Singaporean SMEs to set up their own virtual stores amid the rough times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This new initiative is aimed at the heartland merchants to help them deal with the new challenges and difficulties as a result of nation-wide lockdowns caused by COIVD-19 and the subsequent downturn of the economy. Said initiative was announced by Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat during a webinar on 11 May.

Jointly developed by Nanyang Polytechnic’s Singapore Institute of Retail Studies (NYP-SIRS), payment services group Nets and tech firm SCash, the initiative is supported by Alibaba Cloud, a subsidiary of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.

The mobile based solution is designed to benefit traditional merchants whose physical operations have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. It is especially helpful for those without the know-how to move their business online.

Once the virtual store is up and running, consumers will be able to make orders via a URL or by scanning a QR code at the physical store. Following the customers’ first purchase, retailers can continue to engage with them via loyalty rewards or discounts.

Nets is waiving service fees upon sign-up, while SCash is not charging merchants the monthly service fee until the end of the year. NYP-SIRS is also providing a one-day workshop to help merchants sustain their business operation after the virtual store has been set up.

Director of NYP-SIRS, Megan Ong, said that the COVID-19 outbreak has taken its toll on physical businesses. Digital stores and orders on the other hand are seeing a huge increase during the lockdown. This highlights the importance of helping SMEs to transition to digital solutions.

On 6 May, Enterprise Singapore announced an expansion to its e-commerce booster package to support SME retailers in strengthening their digital marketing capabilities for e-commerce.


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