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ESG and IMDA launch new Wholesale Trade Industry Digital Plan

A new Wholesale Trade Industry Digital Plan (IDP) has been launched to help more than 33 000 SMEs go digital.

IDP is part of the SMEs Go Digital Program which was launched in April 2017. It is a whole-of-government program which aims to help SMEs use digital technologies, build strong digital capabilities and participate in the Digital Economy. A simple guide, IDP helps Wholesale Trade SMEs assess their digital readiness and capacity to internationalise.

Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry launched the IDP during his visit to SATS BRF Food.

Digitalisation Projects for the Wholesale Trade Industry

The Wholesale Trade Industry contributes heavily to Singapore’s economy (16% of GDP in 2017). 97% of establishments constitute of SMEs. Since more than 80% of its sales are from overseas markets, the sector is vulnerable to external shocks from the global trading environment. The rise of digital B2B marketplaces and the use of blockchain and artificial intelligence to improve trade processes are key sources of shocks.

The Wholesale Trade IDP provides an easy-to-use, step-by-step guide to help SMEs, and even large enterprises, begin digitalisation and keep pace with industry transformation. In turn, the necessary digital capabilities needed to become competitive is built, ensuring sustainable growth for the company.

A three-stage roadmap, different digital solutions are charted for each stage of growth, the relevant training programs to enhance employees’ digital skillsets. The first stage seeks to help SMEs get ready for the digital economy. Listing the basic digital solutions to stay competitive is the Enterprise Resource Planning solutions for sales and inventory management, for example. This helps streamline operations and optimise resource.

Next, the roadmap highlights the digital solutions which enable SMEs to connect with the global trading ecosystem and access new markets. These include breaking into the B2B e-marketplaces and online platforms for supply chain financing and procurement.

Identifying advanced digital technologies is the third step. In this step, the technologies identified can help SMEs improve their competitive edge in cross-border trading. Blockchain technology may be used to enhance the trade documentation processes. Additionally, artificial intelligence may be used to predict sales trends and automate sourcing and purchasing needs.

To ensure clarity, companies may consult the SME Centres and SME Digital Tech Hub for a comprehensive business diagnosis and advisory on digital solutions. SMEs which wish to adopt productivity tools may select some from a list of pre-approved solutions identified in the digital roadmap on TechDepot. For those looking to apply more advanced solutions, assistance may be sought from Enterprise Singapore.

Nothing Fishy about E-Commerce

The media release noted that digitalisation efforts at the enterprise level was insufficient. Industry-led partnerships are also important. Ground-up initiatives they embark on together make a difference to businesses and stakeholders within wholesale trade.

This is evidenced by the MoU signed between three seafood associations in Singapore and a technology platform solution provider. An MoU establishes the first seafood B2B e-marketplace in Singapore. The marketplace is supported by Enterprise Singapore and IMDA.

From the partnership, a boost to local seafood trade is expected. This important since the sector has largely been paper-based and had manual processes.

With the new platform, seafood associations can improve operational efficiency by streamlining seafood trading processes like procurement and sales management. Additionally, better business insights through analytics can be delivered.

Opportunities to launch into overseas markets for online trading of chilled and frozen seafood will also be possible through the platform. The cost of fulfilment is slashed and merchants an achieve economies of scale through shared services.

It is expected that close to fifty seafood merchants and their trading partners will be on-boarded within the first two years.

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