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SG government looks to raise e-commerce sales to 10% by 2020

The Singapore government has unveiled intentions to bolster e-commerce receipts to 10% by year 2020, which currently holds 3% of total retail receipts. This will be led via the Retail Industry Transformation Map (ITM), according to senior minister of state, Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), Sim Ann (pictured) during a parliamentary sitting.

The Retail ITM was launched in September 2016 to build the retail industry to comprise a mix of omni-channel retailers and local brand owners with global footprints. This sees the government assisting local retailers to build digital capabilities and enable access to e-marketplaces.

As part of the SMEs Go Digital initiative launched earlier this year, SPRING and IMDA also have pre-qualified e-commerce solutions for SMEs to undertake. Sim added that SPRING provides support to SMEs to strengthen their digital marketing efforts in collaborations with partners such as Google. Meanwhile, organisations such as IE Singapore also help companies leverage e-commerce in garnering growth opportunities in overseas markets.

To help members of the retail industry workforce adapt and upskill to keep up with developments in e-commerce, SPRING has also partnered with SkillsFuture Singapore. This is to develop a skills framework for the retail sector. The framework incorporates e-commerce and digital marketing, which will be launched later this year, Sim said.

In addition, trade associations and chambers (TACs) were also called out by Sim to be important multipliers to accelerate e-commerce adoption among SMEs. One example is Singapore Retailers Association (SRA)’s development of an SME e-Commerce Accelerator Programme to help retailers build integrated strategic plans for omni-channel implementation. This was done with the support of SPRING and Workforce Singapore.

Other initiatives in private sector are also providing support to local SMEs. The 99% SME movement is a national initiative led by Singtel, DBS, and Mediacorp. Initiated in 2015, the effort makes e-commerce accessible to more companies through the set-up of an e-marketplace and offering training opportunities.

The total value of retail receipt transactions made via locally-issued credit and debit cards with local entities, was about SG18.3 billion over the last three years. This represented around 74% of total internet transactions. Meanwhile, internet transactions with foreign entities amounted to SG$6.4 billion.

Earlier this year, the Singapore government also unveiled plans to boost AI capabilities through the establishment of a new national programme called AI.SG as part of its Smart Nation push. This will see the National Research Foundation (NRF) invest up to SG$150 million over five years in AI.SG, said Low Teck Seng, CEO, NRF.

The government is also in the process of undertaking measures to battle the problem of fake news in the country. In June, K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs & Minister for Law, said the ministry would consult with stakeholders, the media, the legal profession, and the Internet companies. This was to “see what the contours and shape of the legislation ought to be”. More measures will be rolled out in the second half of the year.

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