Curated tools, discounts for merchants in up to 10 Singapore heartland precincts to go digital

MERCHANTS in heartland precincts will soon get curated solutions and discounts to go digital, in a new initiative to be rolled out first in Ang Mo Kio, Bedok and Clementi, and subsequently expanded to up to 10 precincts by year end. 

Announced on Wednesday by Enterprise Singapore (ESG), the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the Heartland Enterprise Centre Singapore (HECS), the initiative is targeted at concerns from heartland merchants and various merchant associations over low footfall at those precincts due to a lack of digital means to engage and reach new customers.

Those heartland merchants find it difficult to curate and source for suitable digital solutions at reasonable costs, the three bodies said in a joint statement on Wednesday. "In addition, the Covid-19 pandemic has heightened the need to go digital."

They aim to reach over 400 merchants in Ang Mo Kio, Bedok and Clementi. 

Through this initiative, merchants in the three precincts will be able to implement a range of ready-to-use digital solutions, such as loyalty programmes and payment methods, from solution providers ConnectUpz, DEI and Fave. The three solution providers were appointed following a call-for-collaboration launched in February by ESG, HECS and IMDA. 

Merchants can also get on board online sales channels, depending on their needs and current stage of digitalisation. Discounts will be made available for them.  

Those interested in the initiative can sign up at HECS's website. HECS business advisers, together with the solution providers, will provide one-on-one consultation with merchants to advise them on the products' suitability and costs. 

Yeo Hiang Meng, managing director of HECS and president of the Federation of Merchants' Associations, urged heartland retailers and food establishments to "work with the government to adapt, learn and move towards digitalisation". He also called for a "greater adoption of technology to improve work flow and e-payment platforms to grow their business further for the long term".

This follows the government's move on Tuesday to allocate more than S$500 million to support digital transformation for small and medium-sized enterprises, targeted first at the food and beverage (F&B) and retail sectors.

These include S$1,500 bonuses to encourage e-payment adoption in eateries and wet markets, and a Digital Resilience Bonus of up to S$5,000 for adopting PayNow Corporate and e-invoicing, as well as other business process or e-commerce solutions. There will be an additional tier of S$5,000 for adopting advanced solutions as well.