Since April 2020, we have reached out to more than 20,000 of our SME clients. Their main concerns are declining revenue coupled with higher operating costs. SMEs are facing uncertainty trying to run their business especially with the unprecedented changes such as the disruption of global supply chains. SMEs must reinvent and go digital by implementing solutions that allow their business to continue. They also need to rethink their business strategy and formulate a way forward in this new normal.
How SMEs in Different Industries Respond
For F&B industry, reduced dine-in capacity and changes to dining layout (safe distancing, delivery zones) result in decreased revenue, coupled with higher costs for cleaning & disinfecting and manpower for temperature screening. As such, there is an increased focus on omnichannel presence and delivery options, which used to be a ‘good-to-have’.
In the Infocom and Technology space, we have seen an increased demand for cybersecurity services arising from Work-From-Home & E-Commerce activities. There is an increase in interest in cloud and software support. We expect to see a decline in traditional networking solutions.
Our logistics customers are coping with higher freight costs, due to reduction in freighter planes and lower frequency of routes. Though online shopping activities have increased, the quantum per transaction has decreased significantly. Logistics firms face a compression in margins as they reduce prices to capture demand.
Supporting SMEs Growth Financially
Some SMEs view the current situation as an opportunity for growth and we will continue to support their cash flow needs, support their growth with digital solutions and help them go regional. With the shifts in global supply chains, we also want to help our customers capture opportunities with access to Trade Financing.
OCBC provides financing via Temporary Bridging Loan which gives SMEs up to S$5 Million in funding with no collateral required to help accelerate their business recovery. SMEs can also reach out to OCBC if they would like to review their existing loans with us.
Digitalising Operations Beyond Finance
SMEs also need to reinvent, diversify and optimize the digital tools available. As we see a strong trend towards digital payments and collections, many SMEs are increasingly looking towards the bank to provide solutions to help them run their business digitally, on top of traditional core banking services. With the OCBC Start Digital Pack, we want to help SMEs accelerate their digital capabilities and capture new opportunities.
Going digital is crucial to adapt to the changing landscape. There are many solutions and support to help SMEs get started. SMEs should leverage on the various government grants available to accelerate digital adoption. At OCBC, we have curated solutions by industry, to help businesses sell, market and operate digitally. SMEs can leverage on OCBC Start Digital pack and get up to 12 months free of digital solutions like accounting, HR and marketing.
For new business owners, we have curated tips and solutions to help them turn a promising business idea into reality. Getting started can be the hardest part as it’s never easy for new business owners to figure things out on their own. We understand their struggles and we are here to help with tips from successful business owners and digital solutions to capture opportunities and future proof their business.
Respond to Quick Shifts in Consumer Behaviour
Covid-19 has made companies in all sectors rethink the way they engage their customers as well as employees. Consumer behaviour is a key factor. With the changing behavioural preferences reinforced by technological advances and redefined social norms, online interactions are no longer limited to purchases. The speed at which consumer behaviour has changed to buying not just products but services online has been pretty amazing. Many SMEs pivoted to move their business online and adopted digital payment in a flash.
As more SMEs offer their products and services online, SMEs see an increase in competition. The the set-up cost for an online business is definitely lower than that of a brick and mortar establishment, with faster speed to market.
With this shift in the business mode away from brick and mortar set-up, SMEs not only need to be able to sell online, but they also need to be able to run their day-to-day operations online. To do this, employees will need the necessary tools to work and collaborate remotely. The effectiveness of remote working, virtual meetings, and online training is no longer questionable. As such, it is important to look beyond this pandemic to capture opportunities presented by new and emerging trends.