More than 100 Little India merchants, across retail, F&B and services, have adopted digital solutions to improve their competiveness in the Digital Economy.

The solutions were introduced as part of Little India’s precinct transformation journey launched in February by Minister for Communications and Information Mr S. Iswaran. The project, led by SME [email protected] India, Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI), the Little India Shopkeepers and Heritage Association (LISHA) and supported by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and Enterprise Singapore (ESG), aims to use technology to deliver a better visitor experience. This will make Little India a more attractive tourist and retail destination for both existing and new markets.

As a start, the project focused on two key areas – e-commerce and e-payment. The solutions identified will help the merchants improve customer engagement, enhance the visitor experience to the precinct and strengthen e-commerce capabilities.

The SME [email protected] India worked closely with technology partners to understand the merchants’ needs, curated possible solutions as well as organised roadshows and outreach events for the Little India Digitalisation project.

Some merchants, such as Jothi’s Traditional Charm, are already experiencing benefits from the solutions. The beauty salon invested in online marketing with support from the SME [email protected] India attract more customers, and adopted FavePay to make it easier for customers to make payment. This led to a 20% increase of revenue since adoption.

Platforms further enhanced

The e-commerce and e-payment platforms have been further enhanced to deliver greater customer engagement and digital visibility to merchants. These include:

1. Alipay – marketing Little India: A dedicated Little India banner will help users navigate within the Alipay app. Currently being developed by Alipay’s local business partner SCash, the banner will help Little India merchants reach the Chinese consumer market, as well as enable e-payment transactions for tourists at the merchant’s outlets.

2. Dei – reaching consumers digitally: Dei has introduced new features to enable Little India merchants to reach consumers who prefer to transact digitally. Dei’s new Merchant and Consumer App will notify merchants of orders, as well as provide them with consumer insights.

3. Fave – better loyalty benefits: Fave’s first precinct level loyalty rewards programme will benefit merchants in Little India on the programme. Consumers will be able to redeem the rewards at participating Little India merchants.

In addition, Shopee, as part of the precinct’s digitalisation, provided training to educate the Little India merchants about digital sales channels, to prepare the merchants to onboard the Shopee platform.

“SME [email protected] India has been working very closely with our partners IMDA, LISHA and Enterprise Singapore to survey the needs of Little India merchants. The introduction of the Little India Digitalisation project proved eminent for the precinct to adopt two solutions that will kickstart their digitalisation journey – e-commerce and epayments. This is still a work-in-progress as we encourage more SMEs to start their digital journey and empower them with tools that can help them track their inventory better, manage their cashflow and increase their revenue,” said Dr T Chandroo, Chairman, SICCI and SME [email protected] India.

“Digitalisation in the era of technology driven market is most crucial for the merchants of our Little India precinct to exploit. Our unique Little India precinct with phenomenal footfall will gain favourable propensity in business and tourism in this new dimension of technology,” said Mr Rajakumar, Chairman, LISHA.

“We are in a digital as usual age. While digital technology has brought about challenges for some traditional businesses, it has also delivered many new opportunities. We encourage all our merchants to work with the partners to take advantage of digital technology to improve customer experience and reach out to new customers,” said Ms Jane Lim, Assistant Chief Executive, Sectoral Transformation, IMDA.

“Technology will be key in ensuring traditional businesses stay competitive in our digital age. Besides providing merchants with an extended online customer base, it also enhances the customer experience with the convenience of cashless payments. The merchants at Little India are fully aware of this new business reality but need help in building up their digital capabilities to transform their traditional business models. In close consultation with advisors from the SME centres and with support from the trade associations, they have started on their digital journey and experienced the growth that comes with improved productivity. We will continue to work with merchants beyond Little India through our SME Centres to plug the capabilities gap for our merchants and help our local enterprises digitalise, one by one, step by step, in their journey to transform,” said Ms Chew Mok Lee, Assistant Chief Executive, Enterprise Singapore

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