Local SMEs need to digitalise to seize holiday shopping opportunity

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Nearly four in five (78%) consumers in Singapore will be shopping for the holidays this year despite the pandemic, according to the 2020 Visa Back to Business Study, Holiday Edition.

With more than half (56%) planning to shop at local retailers, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore need to be prepared to benefit from the holiday shopping season.

Although more than two in three SMEs in Singapore (68%) say that the year-end holiday season is a major sales opportunity for their business, nearly a third (31%) say their business is not prepared to take on the holiday season influx of sales, compared to 24% of SMBs globally.

With the global pandemic accelerating the shift towards eCommerce and digital-first experiences, SMEs in Singapore need to keep pace with changing preferences and demands to maximise sales and ensure secure and frictionless holiday shopping experiences for consumers.

When it came to shopping preference, nearly three in five (57%) plan to do half or most of their shopping online, while less than one in three (30%) plan to shop in-person, with some done online. On the other hand, 13 per cent of consumers plan to shop exclusively in-person.

“The global pandemic has changed the way we shop around the globe. Nationwide lockdowns and movement controls have not only accelerated the trend towards eCommerce, but also blurred the lines for shopping, with options such as curbside pickup or ‘click and collect’”, said Kunal Chatterjee, Visa Country for Singapore and Brunei.

“Beyond going digital and having an online presence, local SMEs should also look at establishing an omnichannel approach, while ensuring their payments infrastructure is robust and secure.

“With the gradual easing of safe distancing measures in Singapore, some consumers may opt to shop in-person,” he continued. “For them, contactless payments provide a secure, convenient and safe way to pay, and many have already made the change; we’ve in fact observed a higher adoption of contactless payments during the pandemic in the first quarter of this year.

“We expect local SMEs to be hyper-focused on ensuring a user-friendly and frictionless buying and checkout experience this holiday season,” he concluded.

Beyond changing the way they shop, consumers are also changing what they shop for. Nearly half (49%) are planning to buy digital gifts for the year-end holidays, as it remains uncertain how the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to change. Singaporeans expect to give more digital gift cards (23%) compared to last year, followed by digital entertainment (22%), and experiences such as tickets, activities and trips (21%).

To prepare for the influx of holiday season sales, more than a third of SMEs in Singapore (36%) are expected to digitalise parts of their business operations. SMEs in Singapore also expect to have extended business hours (28%), hire more operational staff (18%) and outsource some business operations to vendors (17%).