Singapore SMBs adaptable and resilient during pandemic

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Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in Singapore have had to pivot from their traditional brick-and-mortar operations and move online in the face of COVID-19 disruptions. Aided by global payment systems, some have managed to thrive and expand their reach overseas.

  • 25% of online SMBs in Singapore reported a positive experience during the pandemic, while a further 18% said they were not impacted by it.
  • SMBs cited a greater reliance on digital payment methods (57%), a move to online shopping (48%) and a greater preference on shipment options (39%) as the top three shifts in consumer behavior in Singapore since the start of COVID-19.
  • Social media emerged as the No.1 way to grow the business (42%) during COVID-19; 53% of SMBs surveyed are using social media as a selling channel.
  • 81% of SMBs are already engaged or planning to engage in cross-border trade.
  • 78% of SMBs surveyed are interested to invest in more payment options to enhance user experience, with 49% of respondents expressing willingness to convert to PayPal as one of the top two payment options that offer trusted, secure, and global payments.

These are some of the findings in a report launched by PayPal titled, ‘Singapore’s resilient SMBs survive and thrive during pandemic’, which surveyed 210 business decision makers of online SMBs in Singapore to understand their experience during this COVID-19 period.

SMBs with an established online presence have benefited from the opportunity to make online sales that have kept them afloat, and in some cases, sparked new avenues for growth.

New growth opportunities

A popular way for SMBs to scale their business during the pandemic is through social media, which was harnessed both as a marketing medium as well as a direct sales channel.

The growing popularity of social selling was reflected in the report with 53% of SMBs surveyed using social media as a selling channel, compared to one’s own e-commerce website (40%), marketplaces (40%) or third-party e-commerce platforms (25%).

While a high proportion of online shoppers in Singapore buy from overseas, the report shows that Singaporean merchants are also leveraging on global e-commerce growth with more than two-thirds (67%) of those surveyed engaging in cross-border trade (CBT). Technology has made it easier than ever for businesses to embrace CBT by adopting global payment systems, developing an owned website, or partnering with third-party platforms to help facilitate cross border selling.

Payments a key enabler

With more SMBs investing in online growth, digital payments continue to play an important role in building trust and converting new customers especially as Singapore SMBs expand globally.

A seamless checkout experience and letting customers pay the way they prefer are key components of an online user experience. SMBs surveyed in the report showed a willingness to explore a range of digital payment options, with 49% expressing an interest to adopt PayPal as a trusted way to conduct global payments.

Commenting on the survey results, Rakesh Krishnamuti, PayPal’s Director of Enterprise Sales, Southeast Asia, said: “While COVID-19 restrictions posed significant challenges for a lot of businesses, SMBs in Singapore showed their resilience by adapting and strengthening their online proposition. They have been getting online, leveraging social media in promoting and selling their products, and capturing new customers in other markets through cross border commerce.

“Digital payment platforms remain a critical part of the online customer journey and the more seamless it becomes for shoppers; the better chance SMBs have of growing their businesses both locally and internationally.”