Mr Anand Palit
Head of Amazon Global Selling, Southeast Asia
Mr Kok Ping Soon
Chief Executive Officer, Singapore Business Federation (SBF)
1. Good morning.
2. Good to be here amongst local entrepreneurs and SME owners.
a. SMEs are close to my heart. Why? My mum used to own a SME selling Korean furniture. In those days without internet, it was impossible for her to sell her furniture online, let alone access overseas markets.
b. But today, we have partners such as Amazon, SBF and Enterprise Singapore that empower and provide the platforms to help SMEs grow in international markets, especially in big markets like the US.
3. And we already have successful cases.
a. The #1 best-selling lip scrub on Amazon US is a home-grown Singapore brand - and one that started in a home kitchen at that!
b. Lynsey Lim, founder of Handmade Heroes, first started concocting her own skincare products because she was looking for products suitable for sensitive skin. Her family and friends loved her products, and Lynsey saw the potential to turn her passion into a thriving business. Handmade Heroes was born. She started selling at pop-up markets across Singapore, and began her e-commerce journey on Amazon.com in 2015.
c. Through Amazon, Handmade Heroes gained access to a large pool of overseas customers. It was not long before her cruelty-free, vegan and natural skincare line gained traction amongst American consumers. As her international orders increased, Lynsey tapped on fulfilment support by Amazon so she can devote more attention to product innovation.
4. Today, consumers all around the world use and love Lynsey’s creations – an amazing feat for a brand that started as a home-based business! Well done Lynsey! Handmade Heroes is setting up their second factory in Malaysia and is looking to expand to more overseas markets such as Europe, Australia and the Middle East through Amazon.
5. Handmade Heroes’ stories is one of many among our local entrepreneurs who have found success online. There are many others like Handmade Heroes.
Supporting enterprises’ internationalisation capabilities
6. Our local businesses know they must go global to scale up. Apart from increasing their reach to a global audience, companies gain greater exposure to new opportunities and trends to remain relevant in a fast-changing market.
a. However, there are challenges to growing beyond our borders. Enterprises must understand consumer preferences, navigate market regulations, and build new networks in an unfamiliar environment.
7. How can we help?
a. To defray some costs of internationalisation, we have schemes such as Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) grant and Double Tax Deduction for Internationalisation (DTDi). Companies can use them to reduce their expenses as they expand and invest overseas.
b. Enterprises can also join overseas business missions and trade fairs to gain market exposure, test in-market demand and get their feet wet. Last year, EnterpriseSG staged a retail pop-up in New York at the Showfields department store, for a group of home-grown lifestyle brands. These brands used this opportunity to meet with distributors and retailers in the US.
US market & e-commerce opportunities
8. For enterprises looking to sell overseas, the US is a large consumer market, where e-commerce revenues are forecasted to grow to more than $1.2T annually by 2025.
9. At the government to government level, the US and Singapore share a longstanding and robust bilateral economic relationship underpinned by the high-performing US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA) which came into effect in 2004. We are deepening our cooperation in new areas through initiatives such as the US-Singapore Partnership for Growth and Innovation (PGI).
a. Under the PGI’s digital economy and smart cities pillar, the US and Singapore have expanded the Global Cross Border Privacy Rules Forum, which enables trusted data flows and helps businesses reach global markets.
10. As companies look to navigate the US market, e-commerce can increase their outreach and engagement with various audiences. E-commerce channels provide avenues for enterprises to explore new markets for growth and test product-market fit before establishing their physical presence overseas.
a. For example, enterprises tap on e-commerce to assess demand in the different states in the US, to better decide where to set up their retail stores. The emphasis on branding and marketing in the US also plays to our local enterprises’ strengths, enabling them to make a strong impression on consumers.
11. However, using e-commerce also requires enterprises to pick up new tools and platform features, and understand e-commerce trends and online shopping behaviors.
Partnering Amazon to build SMEs’ e-commerce capabilities
12. [Announcement] That’s why I am pleased to announce that Amazon, together with Enterprise Singapore and Singapore Business Federation, has developed the Amazon Global Selling Programme to help our SMEs develop these capabilities and build their competitive edge in cross-border e-commerce.
13. As part of the Information & Communications Industry Transformation Map (ITM) we launched in May, we will continue to work with tech leaders like Amazon to strengthen their links with our local ecosystem and help our local companies scale.
14. Through Amazon’s Global Selling Programme, Amazon and SBF will introduce a learning series of seminars and onsite business clinics to help businesses understand cross-border e-commerce opportunities in the US. Amazon will also provide account management support to our Singapore sellers to build their e-commerce capabilities and help them optimise their selling strategy to drive overseas sales. As part of this partnership, Amazon has also agreed to expand support by their team of account managers for eligible Singapore businesses.
15. To our SMEs, please find out more about Amazon’s Global Selling programme and continue to explore new e-commerce opportunities in the US.
16. I would like to wrap up where I started. Lynsey from Handmade Heroes shared that selling on Amazon is a great opportunity for businesses, as it empowers small, local companies to tap into international markets.
17. With this new programme, SMEs like my mum’s Korean furniture business would be able to explore cross-border e-commerce and scale up in the US. Just as Handmade Heroes has found significant traction and success, I look forward to seeing many more of our Singapore brands flying our flag high on the world stage.
18. Congrats to Amazon, Enterprise Singapore and SBF on this partnership. I wish everyone great success in your enterprise journey.
19. Thank you.