How can F&B businesses adapt for growth, given changes in consumer behaviour?

This article was originally published on UOB Business Banking Insights by UOB on 27 April 2021.

Key Takeaways:

  • Online food delivery is a trend that’s here to stay in Singapore. F&B businesses need to adapt fast in order to capture this market opportunity
  • Online ordering platforms help F&B businesses attract online consumers while maintaining control of the online user experience and brand presentation
  • Platforms that provide end-to-end management capabilities enable F&B businesses to digitalise various business processes

As an F&B business owner, you may have sustained your operations last year by fulfilling orders placed through delivery apps. And data suggests that this behavioural shift towards online food delivery may have become permanent among Singaporean consumers.

When restaurants closed during the Circuit Breaker last year, Singaporeans turned to online food delivery services. More than half of consumers (51%) increased the time they spent on food delivery apps during that period to satisfy their needs and cravings.

But even as establishments re-opened, people continued having food sent to their homes. In Q4 2020 alone, the number of orders Foodpanda processed was equivalent to the total number of orders it received in 2019. A survey by The Straits Times and Milieu Insight, conducted in March 2021, revealed that 46% of Singaporeans are more likely to order food delivery now compared to pre-Circuit Breaker times.

In fact, Nielsen predicts that this behaviour will become one of several “new and lasting habits” that Singaporeans formed during the Covid-19 pandemic. Online food delivery could even make up 40% of total restaurant sales in Singapore by 2025.

But you may have also realised that it can be challenging to maximise profits when relying on delivery platforms and online marketplaces as these platforms typically charge commission fees of 25% to 30%.

This is why it’s crucial for F&B businesses to adopt diverse online channels as more consumers demand food delivery. By not putting all your eggs in one basket, you can position your business for growth and leverage consumers’ increased adoption of online food delivery.

Here are some ideas you can consider to adapt to the evolving demands of F&B consumers.


Cloud kitchens

For F&B businesses and startups, one way to control costs is to use a cloud kitchen.

Cloud kitchens are on the rise in Singapore and across Southeast Asia. They are centralised production facilities that are used to prepare food for takeout or delivery only. That means you don’t have to think about paying for front-of-house staff, guest services, interior design, and other costs related to dining in.

Several businesses may share a cloud kitchen, making it more cost-effective as they can split the rent. Businesses with several brands can also bring them together under one roof.


Online ordering systems

Online ordering systems are Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms that restaurants can integrate into their own websites or apps. While not new, online ordering systems saw a boost in traction during the pandemic. One such example is Getz.

This is because they provide several advantages: restaurants get to maintain their brand, control the user experience, and gain insights into consumer behaviour data – all of which they can’t do on third-party marketplaces and delivery platforms.

Plus, providers of online ordering systems typically charge very low fees. Getz, for instance, charges a fee from as low as 4% of online take-away or delivery sales.


Considerations for adopting online ordering systems

As with cloud kitchens, you’ll need to think of how to digitalise various processes in F&B production and management to maximise the benefits of ordering systems. The good thing is that some of these SaaS platforms provide end-to-end process management capabilities.

Consider adopting a singular end-to-end digital solution that connects order management across online and in-store channels to restaurant POS (including a payment system) and delivery booking systems. This approach can help prevent disjointed processes and hefty integration costs across multiple vendors.


Digitalise other business processes to maximise business growth and profits

The benefits of digital solutions are obvious—but as an SME owner, you probably know that adoption isn’t a piece of cake. This reflects a trend among SMEs in Singapore: 83% have digitalisation strategies but 54% delayed implementation due to Covid-19. Meanwhile, 56% are hesitant due to the high cost of digitalisation.

The good news is that the pandemic has convinced many F&B businesses – even traditional restaurants—to try out digital solutions. Such efforts have yielded quick results. In December 2020, many restaurants that had adopted digital tools reported that revenues had bounced back to 70% to 80% of pre-pandemic levels.

The challenge now is to identify and implement the tools that will help you grow your business and maximise your profits. This involves identifying what other parts of your business can benefit from digitalisation, including procurement, inventory, bookkeeping and accounting, and human resources.

It can be daunting to digitalise these different aspects of an F&B business, so it helps to think in terms of an ecosystem approach. Identify related processes that can be digitalised and automated, such as procurement, invoicing, and payroll to lessen manual repetitive tasks and to enjoy faster and seamless workflows. To make this process easier, you can look for programmes that curate digital solutions for SMEs in specific industries.


Get the support you need for your digitalisation journey

Online ordering system and delivery is a significant part of the New Normal for F&B businesses. To grow and thrive, you need to adopt solutions that allow you to reach online audiences and provide deliveries without having your profits squeezed.

If you’re worried about the cost of adopting these solutions, you can tap these government initiatives to help defray cost:

  • Productivity Solutions Grant – Covers 30% of the cost of purchasing, leasing, or subscribing to an IT solution or equipment
    Digital Resilience Bonus – Provides payouts of up to S$10,000 for using qualified digital solutions to improve business processes in the food and retail sectors.

Contact us to learn more about how we can support small and medium F&B businesses.

How to navigate your funding options as a young SME dealing with the impact of COVID-19

This article was originally published on UOB Business Banking Insights by UOB on 26 March 2020.

Key Takeaways

  • Alternative funding options are quick and easy to apply for, but SMEs need to evaluate these carefully depending on their requirements and objectives
  • More traditional forms of financing, such as bank loans, offer a lower interest rate than alternative funding options and might be a better option for SMEs dealing with the impact of COVID-19

In Singapore, the 2018 SME Development Survey indicated that almost 50 per cent of the SMEs surveyed cited issues such as cash flow and liquidity as a critical concern. Covid-19 has further strained liquidity and cash flow requirements.

As a young SME, the most significant task on your business radar currently is optimising your cash flow and managing liquidity to run operations smoothly and retain your workforce through this challenging period. With the emergence of additional alternative funding options, there are more ways for younger SMEs to seek funding to manage liquidity concerns.

We evaluate the pros and cons of the alternative options available to SMEs in Singapore today.

Q: What are the alternative funding options available to ease my cash flow and liquidity requirements?

As a young SME, you may find yourself spoilt for choice when looking for additional working capital as many alternative funding options are emerging.

A recent addition to the funding sphere for SMEs is GrabFinance, the SME lending arm of ride-hailing company Grab. GrabFinance provides a loan quantum of up to S$100,000 to SMEs that have been in operation for at least six months. Here are some of the others.

Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending:

Peer-2-Peer (P2P) lending sees borrowers – such as young SMEs – secure funds directly from individual lenders. This form of funding is occasionally also referred to as Peer-2-Company (P2C) lending. One such digital financing platform, Funding Societies, hit the highest lending volume in Southeast Asia in 2019 with more than S$1 billion in SME loans. Other P2P lending platforms, such as CapitalMatch and MoolahSense, also help SMEs raise capital online outside the traditional banking system.


Used by some young SMEs and e-commerce businesses that want to validate demand for a new product, crowdfunding draws finance from outside funders. Although this approach still lacks significant traction— it is still in its early days—local platforms, such as Crowdo, are seeking to emulate overseas platforms, such as Kickstarter and Pozible.


Q: How do these alternate funding options compare with bank loans?

Ultimately your funding strategy depends on your objectives. For example, crowdfunding can be a good way to raise funds for growing businesses looking to validate their ideas and test market interest for their products and services. Similarly, GrabFinance or P2P lending may be ideal for growing SMEs as these platforms require little or no collateral and thus can provide immediate relief to ease pressure on cash flow during Covid-19.

This table shows, at a glance, what would best suit your business needs.

Q: So, what are the advantages of going to an established lender?

There are advantages going to an established lender like UOB. For one, banks typically offer a lower interest rate than alternative funding platforms. So, as an eligible SME, you may end up paying far higher interest payments to a P2P lender than to a bank. Also, borrowing from a bank can help build businesses’ creditworthiness.

Young SMEs that are dealing with the many complexities of running and growing a business may value the added guidance and support from a bank’s relationship manager. Banks tend to have a proven track record of working with many aspects of an SME business, from daily business banking and overdraft facilities to digital upskilling.

Furthermore, a bank usually provides a greater level of repayment period flexibility and larger loan amounts. Alternative funding providers, often acting as intermediaries, can lack this level of personalised funding support and a know-your-customer approach to the business.


UOB is committed to partnering the government to steer SMEs through these uncertain times

Use this Business Continuity Guide by Enterprise Singapore to ensure that you are protecting your employees, workers and enabling the smooth running of your business at this time.

On our end, UOB has taken several steps to support SMEs during Covid-19. For example, UOB’s Business Loan aims to help fund SMEs’ plans by facilitating loans of up to S$1million, with a repayment period of up to five years and a quick response to applications within one business day.

In addition, UOB has allocated S$3 billion to provide companies financial relief at a challenging time for their business stability.

Click here to find out how UOB can help support your liquidity and business growth requirements.



Entering new markets for SMEs via B2B e-commerce platform

This article was originally published on UOB Business Banking Insights by UOB on 25 Jan 2021.

Key Takeaways

  • Operating on B2B platforms can help open up new markets for SMEs and enable them to access new sources of suppliers and vendors
  • These B2B platforms will continue to be essential for SMEs even after the pandemic ends, with businesses and customers able to conduct 24/7 cross-border transactions rapidly and seamlessly
  • UOB can help SMEs access and make optimal use of digital B2B platforms such as OneSME

B2B e-Commerce platforms are rapidly becoming essential for SMEs

COVID-19 has massively affected the traditional SMEs’ buying and selling process. Trade fairs have been cancelled or suspended, and business travel significantly reduced. To secure new business, especially in new overseas markets, SMEs are turning to e-Commerce platforms that enable visibility to potential customers and business partners worldwide1.


Here are three ways SMEs can benefit from B2B e-Commerce platforms:


1. Entering new markets

As a result of the pandemic, businesses have shifted online and are looking to use B2B e-Commerce platforms to connect with customers and sellers. Being on these platforms allows an SME to expand its customer base globally – a benefit that will continue to apply as and when COVID-19 is brought under control.

An example of such a platform is OneSME that connects Singapore businesses to a buying base of four million companies in China. It offers an ecosystem consisting of buyers, sellers, financiers and digital-solution providers across Asian markets; thereby enabling SMEs to unlock cross-border trade opportunities seamlessly and obtain the necessary resources to tap these opportunities2.

As the exclusive banking partner for OneSME, UOB offers banking and digital solutions conveniently through OneSME, to address SMEs’ collections and payments, trade financing, and working capital needs.

2. Accessing new supplier bases

COVID-19 has disrupted supply chains, making B2B platforms even more crucial for business continuity3. SMEs can look to B2B e-commerce platforms for a larger pool of suppliers — online transactions will make geographical location matter less.

As Mr. Lee Yee Fung, Director of ICM and Digitalisation, Enterprise Singapore, puts it: “The current crisis has accelerated the propensity for B2B buyers, from manufacturers to retailers, to look at diversifying their supplier base to support business continuity against disruptions to their supply chain4

One company that has benefited from a major digital B2B platform,, is the Singapore-based Fish International Sourcing House (FISH). FISH has been using the platform to trade internationally for the past 15 years, and now exports seafood to 91 countries and territories worldwide.


3. Streamlining existing processes with the ability to assess partners and suppliers through a trusted ecosystem

A B2B eCommerce platform streamlines and automates existing processes, largely eliminating human error and increasing transparency and efficiency5. Integrating other functions such as customer relationship management (CRM), shipment, and payment solutions, this will help SMEs save time on administrative matters and be better able to focus on growing their business.

A reliable B2B e-commerce platform incorporates pre-registration security and quality checks to ensure that a company’s business partners on the platform are trustworthy, eliminating the need for the company to conduct time-consuming due diligence or vetting procedures of its own. For instance, OneSME ensures that all companies and products on the platform are validated using the data points from trusted sources like government registries6.


How can you leverage and succeed on a B2B platform?

  1. Create a full company profile. This profile should describe your company’s value proposition and differentiating factors.
  2. Apply for a UOB BizGlobal Account – an account for your USD transactions, with cash management and trade financing solutions for your cross-border business needs.
  3. Ensure sufficient cash flow to seize timely opportunities by securing UOB business loans conveniently via the platform seamlessly.
  4. Have a standardised response time as long waits on the phone or an online chat are no longer acceptable for most customers. 25% of customers expect to get a response within ten minutes of reaching out to sales or customer service7.






Top 10 Most Common Procurement Mistakes

Whether you are running the procurement department in a company, operating a business or managing properties and facilities, your ability to successfully source quality goods and services reflects the effectiveness of your procurement system.

In other words, the procurement process plays a vital role to the overall success of your organisation. Here are the ten most common procurement mistakes that could be getting in your way of successful procurement:

1. Over-reliance on one supplier

Over-dependence on one or a small handful of suppliers can be detrimental on your procurement systemWith an entire ecosystem of vendors on B2B marketplace platforms, why close yourself off to a world of opportunities? Having supply chain flexibility and connecting with multiple suppliers helps to minimise the risk of facing stock-outs from a single supplier and maximises your opportunities to land more competitive dealsIt is always good practice to re-assess the vendor B2B market every now and then to keep up with better prices and products from newcomers in the procurement market.  

2. Poor vendor relationship management 

To ensure a steady supply of quality products and services, it all boils down to factors from sourcing from the right suppliers to monitoring vendor performance. Good vendors that are compatible with your business needs are difficult to come by. Investing in a few necessary steps today to retain and maintain a healthy relationship with valued vendors translates to an even bigger investment to your business’ needs tomorrow. Communicate with your suppliers periodically to build up a relationship and stay up to date with opportunities for savings like discounts and programs or new product launches.  

 Evaluate vendor performance against internal KPIs and create an approved vendors list. Not only is this a risk management strategy but provides you with better visibility on vetted suppliers who are more likely to work with your business needs for improved pricing and terms. Over the long run, centralising suppliers in an approved vendor list makes it easier to develop important business partner relationships.  

3. Failure of enforcing compliance policy

To govern your business’ procurement strategy, it is crucial to establish clear internal and external policies. Without internal compliance policies in place, purchasing employees are likely to use different methods when performing daily procurement tasks. This affects the smooth-running and standardisation of your business’ procurement. Company procurement policy guides employees to adhere to purchasing practices and equips employees with the confidence to overcome obstacles. As businesses scale and adapt to changing market conditions, periodic updates of compliance policies need to be performed to best align them with the business’ current needs. 

Share an effective external compliance policy to your vendors because it cultivates dependability, stability and ethics in the vendor-buyer dynamic. Vendor enforcement policies communicate your expectations to vendors and ensures that vendors are delivering at the highest standards you have set. Laying out clear purchasing terms and conditions shields you from potential legal problems and provides assurance that goods and services will be delivered exactly as described and agreed upon in the transaction.

4. Weak contract management process

The multi-stage process of procurement makes your business highly susceptible to violating legal requirements which you might not be conscious of. Procurement legislation needs to be well-considered in relation to your business model and vendor engagement. Staying on top of your contract management process by verifying that data inputs are correct, complete and up-to-date helps ensure that vendor contracts are accurate and legally compliant.  

5. Error-prone manual internal processing

When every stage of the procurement process is manually executed, there is a higher likelihood of human-errors that exacerbate supply chain risk factors. Common manual errors range from inaccurate or missing data, delayed approvals to lost documents. Incorrect orders are often made because of erroneous data inputsAdditionally, with a vast amount of paperwork and documentation that gets transferred to different stakeholders through the complex procurement process, misplaced or lost documents are an all too familiar occurrence. Such incidents may come across as trivial daily setbacks but could end up in costly long-term legal proceedings. Switching to automation of manual processes centralises physical documents and data logs which drastically reduces these foreseeable errors altogether.  

6. Budget Overruns

Whether you are procuring for a small or large company, last-minute rushed purchases are a common recurring theme. When businesses experience rapid growth, decision-makers are under pressure to scale on par with the growth pace. This results in an unexpected spending spike from overriding procurement guidelines to make panic purchases.  

Inaccurate orders are also a common factor to going over budget. With multiple supplier contracts, it can be overwhelming to stay on top of contract renewals and expirations. Ordering errors arising from incorrect items or quantities end up as costly mistakes especially when order reversals are not made on time.  

Even when businesses have made conscious efforts in core procurement areas to make cost savings, it is still possible for cost saving leakages to happen. A common culprit of such phenomena is maverick spending. Due to communication gaps across department units in a company, decentralisation between teams create deviations from purchase order processes. Budget overspends can be mitigated when control and visibility on purchasing workflows is reinstated through a centralised procurement system in place.  

7. Not negotiating

As the saying goes: if you don’t ask, you don’t getSimilarly, in procurement, many assume that supplier quoted prices are firm and accept them as-is. However, little is known that negotiation is the heart of procurement and sets a strong vendor relationship in motion. Some may negotiate based on price, thinking that the lowest deal has been landed when this might not actually be the case. There are many other factors to consider in procurement negotiations from freight charges, parking, lead times to other up-charges. Such factors tend to be additional hidden charges that might be missed during negotiations. It is best to evaluate all fees involved as part of your negotiations. Participating in a B2B marketplace with a vast selection of vendors gives you more choice and allows you to compare and negotiate with different vendors.  

8. Not taking commercial conditions into account

Ensuring that robust purchasing terms and conditions are in place protects your procurement orders from issues and legal complications. Such terms and conditions act as a guarantee that goods and services defined in the purchase order will be deliveredCommercial conditions ranging from warranty-extensions of goods and services, payment guarantees, or liquidated damages will have a direct influence on price levels. When submitting an RFQ, buyers should integrate commercial condition preferences for vendors to incorporate such costs within their quotations.  

9. Decentralising key decisions

When making major procurement decisions that will impact multiple stakeholders or departments, it is important to include input from all relevant stakeholders before any decision is finalised. Open and interactive communication with feedback, request verification and centralised approvals at different points of the procurement process are important for a good outcome.  

10. Refusing procurement software

Effective use of automation technology eliminates many risks and common mistakes in procurement workflow processes. Here is how a reliable e-Procurement software can unlock efficiency across the entire procurement process whilst saving time and money: 

  • Streamline procurement process – A standardised procurement workflow that all employees can follow and understand. Procurement employees can work through different stages of the procurement system quickly to identify hiccups easily. 
  • Less manual errors  Keep duplicate data entries and paper handling errors in the past with clean and organised digital forms for contracts, tenders and purchase orders that can be instantly searched and tracked 
  • Improve communications with internal and external stakeholders – Create clear statements of need to address and get reminders of time-sensitive requests  
  • Less procurement delays – Manage and collaborate an extensive network of vendor relationships on a central platform to minimise delays in your vendor supply chain  

Successful procurement is a marathon, not a race. Avoiding these top common procurement mistakes can prevent costly oversights. Furthermore, adopting procurement software with automatic routing means you and your team can focus on your core roles and responsibilities. Get started with Really’s procurement platform for your procurement journey.

About Really 

Really is a premium Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions platform that hosts Singapore’s leading B2B marketplace. Running on cloud infrastructure, Really digitalises procurement processes and workflow automation all in a single platform. Motivated by the aim to revolutionise the traditional procurement landscape, users who embrace Really experience are empowered today for a new and better procurement journey tomorrow.  


Why You Should Use Really: 

Really Easy – Create Tenders, Manage Vendors, Organise Contracts, Send Requests and more on a centralised all-in-one dashboard  

Really Connected – Access a network of over 6,000 trusted vendors to source and procure across a wide selection of categories for different goods and services  

Really Negotiate – Place direct POs or create RFQs to tender and compare bids for the most competitive prices and terms on the market, and work with the best vendors that tailor to your needs 

Really Communicate – Share and exchange requests and information with different internal and external stakeholders to build effective relationships when you streamline communication 

Really Consistent – Standardised forms, functions and data entry across a systematised interface to align all stakeholders in understanding how to access and optimise use of different documents.