SINGAPORE – The Government has a five-pronged strategy to promote Singapore’s status as a regional and global e-commerce hub, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said on Thursday (Jan 28).

He said Singapore firms must position themselves to take advantage of e-commerce opportunities as consumer behaviour during Covid-19 indicates a permanent shift towards online shopping.

He noted that online sales in Singapore as a proportion of total retail sales value had risen since the start of 2020, from 5.8 per cent in January to 14.3 per cent in November.

“The borderless world of e-commerce presents fresh opportunities that are up for grabs by all who are willing to try. Technology is neutral. Businesses that can master it faster and better, win,” he said.

“Competition is no longer local but regional and global. Since this is a phenomenon that we cannot stop, Singapore firms must position ourselves to make the most of it,” said the minister in a speech at Amazon’s Southeast Asia Online Seller Summit.

He also said that Enterprise Singapore (ESG) is in active discussions with Amazon on new training programmes to equip local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with the capabilities to sell overseas via the e-commerce giant.

To help companies access new markets, ESG has already been working with Amazon to get Singapore sellers to come onboard the Amazon platform as a channel for international sales, such as in the United States, Canada and India, said Mr Chan in a speech at Amazon’s Southeast Asia Online Seller Summit.

The new Amazon training programmes would cover capabilities like listing optimisation, customer service and international demand generation, he said.

More details will be announced later this year. Mr Chan encouraged companies that are interested and ready to expand internationally to approach Amazon and ESG to find out more.

Outlining Singapore’s e-commerce strategy, Mr Chan said the Government will secure Singapore’s digital infrastructure by introducing two nationwide 5G networks by 2025 to enable infrastructure capacity to deal with large online sales orders internationally. In addition, firms are also encouraged to adopt digital solutions such as E-Invoicing Network and PayNow Corporate.

Secondly, the Government is working with businesses to build strong supply chain capabilities to ensure timely fulfilment of orders. ESG is working closely with logistics companies to develop value-added and specialised capabilities in areas such as cold-chain management, retail and pharmaceutical logistics.

Thirdly, the Government is ramping up cyber security to protect businesses against cyber security threats. Singapore has Digital Economy Agreements (DEAs) with New Zealand, Australia and Chile to improve digital connectivity and ensure secure data flows between countries. It is currently in discussions with other countries, such as South Korea and the United Kingdom (UK).

Fourthly, the Government will double down on efforts to support local businesses in gaining e-commerce capabilities and maximising their growth opportunities from the digital economy.

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Grow Digital, for example, is an initiative by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and ESG to help businesses venture into e-commerce and increase their customer base internationally. Businesses may also seek grant support from ESG’s Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) scheme to expand into new foreign markets.

Finally, the Government will continue to ensure that policies in place to overcome Covid-19 are effective to ensure that businesses are able to continue operations with minimal disruption.

“I encourage all businesses to embrace the opportunities that e-commerce presents. Together, we can put Singapore on the world map as a global and regional e-commerce hub.” said Mr Chan.

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