This article was originally published on UOB Business Banking Insights by UOB on 25 Jan 2021.
- 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, alibaba.com, 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?
- Create a full company profile. This profile should describe your company’s value proposition and differentiating factors.
- 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.
- Ensure sufficient cash flow to seize timely opportunities by securing UOB business loans conveniently via the platform seamlessly.
- 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.