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Glamming It Up: Singapore’s Kampong Glam launches 5 new digital initiatives to help the neighbourhood glide into the digital age

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) announced that Kampong Glam, Singapore’s first digitally-enabled neighbourhood, has launched five initiatives in its first phase to help traditional businesses there succeed in a Digital Economy, with about 150 merchants already benefitting from the transformation.

The neighbourhood transformation project, led by the IMDA, in collaboration with Enterprise Singapore, the One Kampong Gelam (OKG) association and the Singapore Malay Chambers of Commerce and Industry (SMCCI), is aimed at strengthening the neighbourhood’s appeal to digitally savvy consumers and visitors interested in an experiential retail experience, and helping businesses become more productive through technology.

To bolster the work on the ground, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Member of Parliament for the Jalan Besar Group Representation Constituency, has been appointed as special advisor to the Kampong Glam digital transformation project.

As special advisor, Dr Yaacob will engage with key stakeholders, and provide guidance on the development and prioritisation on the digital transformation of the neighbourhood.

The first phase of the neighbourhood’s transformation comprises the following five digital initiatives:  

a.       E-payments, for convenient transactions;

b.       Digital map listings and virtual in-store tours, for improved merchant discoverability;

c.       Augmented Reality-enabled navigational tool with digital marketing features, to help visitors navigate seamlessly through the neighbourhood;

d.       Convenient, affordable shopping delivery services, so customers can “shop without shopping bags”; and

e.       Integrated Point-of-Sale system, to help businesses become more efficient

Following initial success in helping more merchants establish online listings and virtual tours on digital maps such as Google Maps, a Memorandum of Intent was signed at the launch between Temasek Polytechnic (TP) School of Business, IMDA and OKG to increase the involvement of TP students to continue to assist merchants on their digitalisation journey.

To further enhance the digital capabilities of the Kampong Glam neighbourhood, OKG is working with key stakeholders to explore new ideas for the second phase of transformation, which may include pervasive outdoor Wi-Fi coverage, intelligent digital signages, Internet of Things-based visual identifiers, social media-based brand identity and e-commerce capabilities.

Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Communication and Information is confident that launching the Phase 1 initiatives will encourage merchants to adopt more innovative digital solutions, thereby, creating an even better visitor’s experience in Kampong Glam and improving their business opportunities. He stated that he hopes the community, public and private sectors will collectively enter into a mutually beneficial partnership that will enable this.

Ms Jane Lim, Assistant Chief Executive, Sector Transformation Group, IMDA made it clear that in order for businesses, including traditional businesses, stay competitive in the digital economy, they must digitalise their operations and processes. She added that with the initiatives, businesses will now have more tools to engage their customers with an integrated experience that unites the physical and digital, and be better positioned to seize growth opportunities in a fast-changing business environment.  

The Chairman of OKG,  Mr Saeid Labaffi said that Kampng Glam possesses a rich blend of history and culture, as well as modern retail shops and contemporary eateries. Strengthening the local merchants’ digital presence will enable them to better connect to a younger generation of locals, as well as overseas visitors and afford them the opportunity to experience Kampong Glam’s unique mix of retail experiences and cultural heritage.

Mr Azhar Othman, Chairman, SME Centre@SMCCI stated that traditional merchants need to embrace technology to allow for the growth of their businesses. This requires a team of advisors who will work hand-in-hand with the merchants to get them online.

“As the lines between the physical and digital world continue to blur, our SME merchants need to keep pace by adopting new mindsets and digital capabilities that enable them to fully participate in this ever-evolving economy. Embarking on this digital journey will allow businesses to better engage their customers not only here at Kampong Glam, but also beyond the precinct, bringing new opportunities to showcase the unique offerings of our SME Merchants and reach new customers,” said Ms Chew Mok Lee, Assistant Chief Executive Officer, Industry Clusters, Enterprise Singapore.

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