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Speech by MOS Low Yen Ling at the Launch of the Singapore Furniture Industries Council’s B2B Digital Sourcing Platform, Creativ-Space

Speech by MOS Low Yen Ling at the Launch of the Singapore Furniture Industries Council’s B2B Digital Sourcing Platform, Creativ-Space

Mr Mark Yong, President, Singapore Furniture Industries Council,

Mr Phua Boon Huat, Chairman, Creativ-Space

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Introduction

1. Good afternoon. Thank you for inviting me to the launch of your B2B e-sourcing and marketing platform, Creativ-Space.

a. I would like to commend the Singapore Furniture Industries Council (SFIC), for driving this first-of-its-kind initiative in Asia.

b. With the inclusion of features such as augmented reality technology and virtual showrooms, Creativ-Space will transform the way furniture and fittings are procured and marketed by local furniture companies.

c. It also provides a platform for industry players to reach out to an international clientele and expand their business footprint beyond Singapore.

d. As participation in international furniture trade shows is limited during this period, SFIC is also launching the Digital Urban Living Showcase. A series of digital ‘pop-up’ urban living showcases on Creativ-Space, it allows participating local furniture firms to market their products effectively to international furniture retailers and distributors. 

e. I understand that the SFIC is targeting to bring 100 brands on board over the next 3 years.

f. Creativ-space is testament to the possibility of adopting digital technologies in any industry, even in traditional industries such as furniture, as long as companies are willing to learn, adapt and change.

Building digital capabilities is critical for firms to harness the opportunities in a post-COVID-19 landscape

2. The COVID-19 pandemic will result in structural changes to the global economy. Companies will need to adapt and transform in order to stay relevant.

3. In 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the World Economic Forum estimated that over 60% of the global GDP will be digitised by 2022 and an estimated 70% of the new value created in the economy over the next decade will be on digitally-enabled platforms. 

a. The increased usage of digital solutions such as e-commerce during the pandemic has accelerated the change in consumer preferences.

b. These changes will continue in a post-COVID landscape.

4. The digitalisation trend has permeated the retail scene, including the furniture industry.

a. Furniture industry players now need to not only engage customers through traditional trade fairs but also 24/7 and 365 days a year through digital channels.

b. Leveraging digital platforms has helped many furniture companies to continue to engage their customers both locally and globally, despite the COVID-19 restrictions.

c. For example, Sitra Global, a leading manufacturer and distributor of quality wood-based products and outdoor furniture headquartered in Singapore, has redesigned its e-commerce site to improve its customer outreach in France.

d. As a result, the B2C sales of Sitra’s subsidiary in France, which used to account for only 10% of its annual sales pre-COVID, has grown to 40% today. 

e. Due to this positive experience, Sitra Global plans to market its products for the Singapore market on e-commerce platforms such as Shopee and Lazada to expand its B2C business.

5. With an international offering easily available on e-commerce platforms, it is important for businesses to enhance the online customer experience to present a strong and lasting brand image.

a. For instance, by improving the customer’s search and buying process with the use of digital technologies through augmented and virtual reality.

b. Commune Lifestyle is an example of a company that has successfully used augmented reality to market its products.

c. In 2019, it launched an augmented reality mobile application that helps customers visualise how Commune’s products would look like in their homes before deciding on the purchase.

d. The mobile application also features virtual showrooms which recreate an immersive shopping experience in Commune’s brick-and-mortar stores.

6. I strongly encourage furniture firms to press on with your transformation and digitalisation efforts. It is critical for businesses to harness these opportunities amidst the crisis and position yourselves well so that you can ride this wave of change and stay ahead of the competition.

The SFIC has been instrumental in driving transformation in the furniture industry

7. The Government understands that transformation is not easy, especially as many businesses are still coping with the economic effects of COVID-19.

8. The Government has been supporting and will continue to support businesses in this journey through various schemes such as the Productivity Solutions Grant, SMEs Go Digital programme and E-Commerce Booster Package.

a. To date, the E-Commerce Booster Package has supported over 1,900 projects for retailers to diversify their revenue channels through e-commerce and digital marketing.

b. More than 20,000 SMEs have also adopted digital solutions to improve their business processes under the SMEs Go Digital programme.

9. During these trying times, it is also critical for the furniture industry to band together and pool resources to support one another.

10. Since its inception in 1981, the SFIC has been a strong and steadfast partner in driving transformation in the furniture industry.

a. Creativ-Space is but one of its many efforts to support local furniture firms.

b. In 2017, the SFIC embarked on a 6-month Industry 2021 Roadmap Exercise to chart the vision for Singapore’s furniture industry and highlight opportunities and strategies for growth.

c. The SFIC has also been supporting local furniture players’ expansion into regional markets by organising trade missions and providing business matching services under its GrowthAsia programme.

d. Most recently, the SFIC also collaborated with the Association of Singapore Attractions, Singapore Retailers Association and Textile and Fashion Federation to organise the eGSS 2020.

i. This achieves the twin aims of (i) encouraging retailers to leverage e-commerce platforms to generate revenue and (ii) driving domestic consumption for the different tourism- and lifestyle-related industries through attractive promotions and unique offerings.

11. I am greatly heartened by the SFIC’s efforts in helping the industry emerge stronger and more resilient from this crisis.

12. Before I conclude, let me say a few words in Mandarin.

13. 尊敬的新加坡家具工业理事会翁礼豪会长,各位理事、执行委员,各位家具业同仁,大家下午好!很高兴今天和大家在这里一同见证新加坡家具工业B2B电子商务平台,《Creativ-Space》的发布会。

14. 在这里我要特别表扬新加坡家具工业理事会,在翁会长和各位理事的领导下,虽然面临冠病疫情带来的挑战,理事会积极扮演企业公会及商会(TAC)的重要角色,带领家具工业同仁向数码化转型,为业界开拓了《Creativ-Space》这个电子商务平台。

15. 这个平台能够让全球的采购商,认识新加坡设计师和制造商的家具产品。然而要在五花八门的选择当中脱颖而出,产品的设计理念和品牌定位非常重要。在家具设计的世界舞台上,由著名设计师设计的品牌产品,往往都能够获得很高的评价和定价,为原材料带来加倍的增值。例如一张木桌的原材料或许只需要几十块钱,但是经过设计加工,去参加比赛,或是进行市场行销后,能够买到几百块,甚至是几千块钱,这就凸显了设计和品牌的重要性。

16. 新加坡的家具产品不但设计别致新颖,做工也非常的精细,因此希望大家积极建立品牌,利用电子商务平台打开销售渠道,把握数码化的机遇,推广市场,放眼世界。

17. 我刚才在英语演讲当中,也分享了政府推出的许多补贴和配套,希望各位老板们多多善用这些补贴计划和配套,加上家具工业理事会的鼎力支持,以及《Creativ-Space》B2B电子商务平台的加持,我有信心本地的家具工业一定会欣欣向荣、大放光彩。

Conclusion

18. In conclusion, I am confident you will all continue to work closely together and support one another to emerge stronger from this pandemic.

19. Congratulations again to the SFIC for bringing Creativ-Space to fruition.

20. Thank you very much.
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