Wholesale Trade Industry Digital Plans: SMEs Should Know About

Why Should Wholesalers Implement the Wholesale Trade Industry Digital Plans?

The wholesale trade industry deals with the sale of goods or merchandise to retailers and can include products from sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, chemical, or mining. They do not sell goods directly to the consumers and generally run their business from a warehouse or an office. They also do not advertise or display their products as compared to retailers.

Wholesale traders are an essential part of the economy in most countries. The industry today is facing challenges such as increasing fuel costs and competition from manufacturers who directly sell to end-users without involving intermediaries. The wholesale trade industry can cope with the challenges and thrive only if they start implementing wholesale trade industry digital plans in their businesses.

How Does the Wholesale Trade Industry Digital Plans Work in Singapore?

The Wholesale Trade Industry is one of the main components of Singapore’s economy. It contributes a huge percentage to the GDP of the economy. There are many segments in Singapore’s wholesale industry like agriculture materials, transport equipment, fuels and chemicals, and general merchandise. The sector always faces many challenges, like increased competition and fluctuating fuel prices. The industry needs to adapt to digitalization to cope with the changes and thrive in the face of heavy competition.

The wholesale Trade Industry Transformation Map (ITM) was launched to empower the sector with digital skills so that it may grow into a vibrant industry and be more productive. The Wholesale Trade Industry Digital Plan is aligned with the SMEs Go Digital Plan that aims to simplify going digital for SMEs.

The SMEs Go Digital plan comprises of:

  • The Industry Digital Plan (IDP) which is a guide providing digital solutions and skills required for each of the digitalization processes.
  • Pre-approved digital solutions for SMEs to meet their business requirements and avail of grants if financial support is needed.
  • Advice from consultancy services that will help your business to grow.
  • Consultancy from project managers that will help in implementing digital solutions.

Getting to Know the Digital Roadmap

The Digital Roadmap will serve as a guide to the SMEs on their digitalization journey. It consists of the following steps:

Getting Digital Economy Ready

It comprises digital solutions that can be adopted to transform your business brand.

Management of Sales

Tools to manage orders for sales, customers, products, and pricing data.

These tools will help in monitoring and handling sales efficiently and tap business openings to increase profits. The use of automated processes with less manual effort will help to minimize errors, and there will also be a smooth conversion to sales orders from purchase orders. These will also lead to increased productivity.

Management of Purchases

Tools to manage suppliers, their products, creation, and processing of purchase orders.

Through these tools, you will be able to monitor purchases efficiently, carry out purchasing functions well, and maintain excellent communication with the suppliers. The electronic processes used will also help to reduce mistakes.

Management of Stock

Tools for managing the warehouse functions like packing, receiving, picking, and moving of products.

There will be increased productivity because of proper management of warehouse functions and also reduce losses.

Management of Distribution

Tools to manage the processes in order fulfillments like packing, picking, or delivery of products to customers.

This will improve the monitoring and visibility of order fulfilment and help to make changes in problem areas and provide better service to customers. As a result, there will be a better use of delivery routes so that there is a reduction in the time and distances. Also, you will begin to notice increased productivity.

Management of Customer Relationship

Tools that will help to manage customers better by studying and understanding their profiles, preferences, and requirements.

You will be able to maintain better relationship with customers by analyzing their data and knowing them better. It will help to retain the customers and also result in increased sales due to improved interactions with them.

Management of Workforce

Tools to manage the workforce by monitoring their performance, scheduling their work, and providing skills to them as and when needed.

This will enhance the productivity of the employees, as it will lead to their best possible utilization. Employees will be more motivated, and there will also be lesser breakdowns in work as the scheduling of work will be done effectively.

Growing in the Digital Economy

  • Utilizing e-commerce platforms: Employ e-commerce platforms for the selling, purchasing, and sourcing of goods.

This will generate more sales openings on account of access to international markets. Since supply options will increase, the cost of buying also reduces.

  • E-Procurement through online platforms: Use online platforms for sourcing and buying of products, their billing, and payment.

You can now simplify and automate the paper-based functions, which will result in increased productivity. The tools will help to monitor and understand the supply market well. The economies of scale will help to maximize sourcing and lessen the overheads,

  • Utilize e-invoicing and e-payment: Automate the process of billing and generate invoices electronically.

There will be an increase due to the ease and automation of paper-based functions. There will also be better cash flow, and delay in payments will be reduced.

  • Utilize trade facilitation platform: This will enable the smooth flow of information between international traders and connected government agencies during global import and export operations,

You will be able to improve the flow of information and result more efficiency. There will also be lesser mistakes due to reduced human involvement in data entry. There will be lower penalties and reworks which arise because of variable declarations to customs.

  • Supply chain financing through online platforms: Finance for trade can be availed through online platforms connected to external financiers.

This will result in better operating cash flow and improve the status of working capital. The financing costs will be lower on account of sellers getting their payments quickly. There will be better relationships among sellers and buyers.

Leaping Ahead

  • Automate sourcing and purchasing: Use artificial intelligence and machine learning to predict and automate the sourcing and buying requirements.

You can understand the customers better with automation. It will help to predict and maintain adequate stock levels and thus prevent loss of sales due to insufficient stock. There will also be better utilization of holding levels for the stock.

  • Use digital methods for price prediction: Employ techniques like artificial intelligence to make price predictions for various segments of customers.

It will help to attract more customers and also retain them. It will also result in better prediction of operations. The optimized pricing will also help in making better decisions, utilize Artificial Intelligence (AI) for processing trade information, etc. It will also assist in employing AI to process trade data for detecting, studying, and forecasting failed trades and offer solutions and preventive measures.

Moreover, You will lower the running costs and increase productivity. It will also help to decrease the number of failed trades.

  • Authentication of products: Give an assurance about the authenticity of products sold or distributed to all people involved in the transactions.

Authenticity will help in enhancing the brand image and minimize losses due to fake products. It will also help to build better relations with trade associates.

  • Utilize blockchain technology for trade documentation: Use blockchain for carrying out all the trading functions like document exchange.

You can bring complete transparency and enable the checking of all data and events. It will help in improving the trust between all the parties involved and will also give a guarantee regarding the authenticity of all documents.

Wholesale Trade Industry Digital Plans: SMEs Should Know About

Providing Digital Skills

As per the Wholesale Trade Industry Digital Plans, training in digital skills will be provided for all job roles like marketing/sales assistant, marketing manager, or head of trading. The two training courses available are:

  1. Tech Basics Courses: It will involve providing broad-based user level and solution-specific digital skills and awareness along with the development of an innovative mindset.
  2. Tech Advanced courses: Higher level digital skills will be provided in this course to heavy digital users which will be mapped to the Skills Framework for Wholesale trade and ICT (Information and Communication Technology).

SMEs will receive support at every stage of their digitization process, and they can either opt to use the IDP resources at the website or scan the QR code. They may also visit the Tech Depot website to buy digital solutions and avail of the Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) if funding support is needed. In fact, they can even approach the Business Advisor at the nearest SME center for digital advice or be referred to the principal consultants at the Digital Tech Hub. They can also get in touch with the digital project managers at the SMF (Singapore Manufacturing Federation).