Turning a Crisis into an Opportunity

It’s been more than a year since individuals and businesses were badly hit by the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The pandemic has drastically changed our lives — from adjusting to the new normal of working from home to losing our source of bread and butter, as 1 in 4 Singaporean has lost their jobs during the pandemic. Despite experiencing such setbacks, it is heartening to witness individuals overcoming these unprecedented obstacles by starting their own home-based businesses (HBBs).

Mr Mervyn Koh, country head of banking at United Overseas Bank (UOB) mentioned, “It is relatively easy to set up a HBB with flexible working hours and low set-up cost.” Although it is simple to set up a HBB, making your business grow and prosper requires the usage of additional tools and platforms available online. So what are some of these tools that HBB owners should consider using?

Utilising social media platforms

With everyone staying indoors this season, social media marketing is here to stay. In a study by PayPal, merchants found it easier to reach out to a wider group of customers and set up their business through social media platforms. In order to attract more customers and build relationships with them, it is important to establish your online presence on social media platforms.

Applications such as Instagram let you post stories, quizzes and polls, allowing you to establish conversations with your customers and understand them better. Ms Wendy Tang, the owner of Bakabee, has been using YouTube and Instagram to create baking related content over the past few years. Tapping on these social media platforms has assisted her with establishing her presence in Singapore even when the business’s sales dipped during Circuit Breaker.

Social media has evolved to facilitate business transactions through initiatives such as Facebook shop and Instagram shopping from Facebook and Instagram respectively. These features have promoted the ease and convenience of shopping on social media, as highlighted by Mr Sega Cheng, co-founder of iKala – an artificial intelligence solutions start-up. iKala also discovered that social commerce has experienced progressive growth, as orders through social media platforms have increased by 155% during the first 6 months in 2020. With all of these benefits in mind, social media marketing is an essential strategy that you will definitely want to implement for your business!

Digitalising payment methods

With a greater emphasis on convenience and minimising physical contact, many businesses and customers are looking towards digital payment methods such as PayNow and PayLah. This is evident through the 64% increase in PayNow payments for UOB in the first three quarters of 2020.

Mrs Josephine Wee, who recently started her HBB on Carousell, stated that digital payments have provided her business with convenience, as she no longer deals with the hassle of taking pictures of ATM receipts for online purchases. This also reduces unnecessary admin work during bookkeeping, as you will be able to trace the payments through your digital payment application. As such, digital payments create a “win-win” situation as it benefits both you and your customers at the same time.

Setting up a delivery system

More consumers have been using delivery services, according to a study conducted by Visa. The study’s results showed that 25% of respondents started using delivery for the first time and 71% started using such services more frequently during the pandemic. This change in consumer behaviour indicates that delivery has been becoming more of a norm and it would be valuable for you to adapt to this norm and introduce a delivery system in your business too. 

Roti Kirai Singapura, Paparch SG and Bekal Mama are some of the HBBs who utilise delivery services. Based on the distance and locations, they charge between $6 and $10 for their delivery fees. Food and beverage HBB owners may consider liaising with delivery partners, however, there is the risk of food items becoming messy when mishandled, therefore, it is best to choose one that understands your requirements perfectly.

On the other hand, craft-based HBB owners who handle imperishable goods may opt for postage instead of immediate delivery services. Local postage service, Singpost, charges from $0.30 to $3.40 depending on the weight of the package and the type of service you require. While fulfilling your customers’ orders through delivery services, do also take note that with the heightened measures in place, your delivery services can only be done in a contactless manner.

Coming out stronger

Small home-based businesses have been one of those who had experienced the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. By keeping up with the trends and adapting to new norms, there are certainly opportunities to ride through this crisis. With passion, grit and a little optimism, HBB owners are sure to move past these turbulent times.



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