Seizing the opportunities amid challenges

Ms Wong Minying is focused on digitalising her family business to better meet head-on the difficulties posed by the pandemic.

This time last year, her food court was bustling with activity. After all, it was the peak of the Great Singapore Sale and height of the medical tourism season. Located at Lucky Plaza, her food court is in a prime location to cater to hungry bellies.

This year, however, like other F&B establishments, the Covid-19 pandemic has struck Ms Wong Minying’s family business hard.

“SARS was bad. But Covid-19 is definitely worse. With the ceasing of travel, the circuit breaker, the safe distancing measures … we saw a 70% hit to most of our food stalls. No one in the family business has gone through something like that,” says the 27-year-old general manager of Asian Food Mall.

Left to find ways to sustain the business, Ms Wong decided to sign up for DBS’ relief package for F&B businesses.

Supported by the Infocomm Media Development Authority and Enterprise Singapore, the DBS F&B relief package was started to support the bank’s F&B customers. Partnerships with tech start-ups were established to help F&B owners digitalise their companies and build an online presence using an e-commerce site. It also offered help with digital marketing as well.

“As our food court is in town, we could not use most food delivery platforms that deliver only within a certain radius. Island-wide delivery options are more expensive. DBS walked us through using Oodle as an e-commerce platform, and it has really helped with our sales,” she says.

Using the Oddle platform, F&B SMEs can integrate with Oddle's preferred logistics partners for on-demand food delivery.

Other than offering an online platform for customers to order their food, Ms Wong took the opportunity to ensure the business had a stronger social media presence.

“DBS helped us with the photographs and videos for our online social media platforms too,” she adds.

With that done, Ms Wong decided to make the push to further digitalise the human resource and financial aspects of the business.

“My parents, who are still running the company, were quite hesitant at first. It was very different to the way they used to do things. But doing this allows us to reduce manpower costs, and is also more convenient. They also saw the benefits of having more social media exposure for the business.

“In the past, no one would have thought that a food court would need to be on any social media platform. But that visibility is important now.”

“If anything, I wish we had embarked on this digitalisation process earlier, before Covid-19 hit us. It would have cushioned the blow a little,” she remarks.

Still, Ms Wong remains optimistic.

“The pandemic exposed gaps in the business, and allowed us to see what is lacking in the market as well.”
- Ms Wong Minying, general manager of Asian Food Mall

It was also this outlook, and the experience of digitalising her family business, that gave her the push to start a new online business, Yuan Collagen, that sells premium collagen soup online. She did this in partnership with Singaporean actress Chantalle Ng, both leveraging digital means to communicate and collaborate during the circuit breaker period.

“In the end, no matter the challenges, it is a matter of whether we can see opportunities still, and what we do to seize them,” reflects Ms Wong.

Click here to find out how DBS SME Banking is stepping up to help SMEs tide through Covid-19 and beyond.