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Most Singapore SMEs tapped on government Covid-19 support, more than global counterparts: Xero

Felicia Tan
Felicia Tan10/15/2020 04:27 PM GMT+08  • 3 min read
Most Singapore SMEs tapped on government Covid-19 support, more than global counterparts: Xero
The study also found that local SMEs were more likely to leverage on digital customer insights than their global counterparts.
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About 92% of Singaporean small medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) relied on the government’s Covid-19 support. This was the highest rate across its counterparts in Australia, New Zealand, North America and the UK, according to a study commissioned by Xero, the global small business platform.

The study also found that Singaporean SMEs were more likely to leverage on digital customer insights (24%) compared to their global counterparts (18%).

See also: Singapore, Germany sign MOU to speed up SMEs' industrial and digital transformation

Titled “The Next Chapter For Small Business: How To Thrive In A Changed World”, the study surveyed over 1,000 SME owners and 1,000 SME customers across these six countries to determine how businesses have survived and succeeded in the current environment.

The study found that Singaporean SMEs were more likely to tap on customer data analytics (37%) and less likely to rely on instinct to develop their next strategy (20%). This enabled them to quickly pivot their business strategy as well as retaining existing customers (38%) and attracting and retaining new customers (36%) – the top two challenges during Covid-19, according to Xero.

This is in contrast to their global counterparts who preferred to rely on their instincts (34%) than customer data analytics (27%).

Businesses in Singapore were also more likely to base important decisions based on customer feedback (43%) and advice from business associations and communities (43%). A smaller group rely on advice from trusted business advisors like accountants and bookkeepers (28%).

During the pandemic, the study also found that cloud adoption surged as 62% of Singaporean SMEs shifted their business operations online. With an increase of 30% y-o-y, this was the highest among all the markets surveyed.

Other key findings included 79% of Singaporean SMEs leveraging on community support compared to the global average of 62%, and that Singaporean consumers were the most price sensitive globally. About 51% stated that the top reason for supporting SMEs were the lower prices.

Some 41% of consumers in Singapore would buy more goods and services from SMEs to support their community during Covid-19.

Following the study, Xero proposed five key recommendations for businesses to recover or remain afloat amid Covid-19.

This includes digitalising financial information, which would have a “direct impact on whether a business will survive”. It also recommended businesses use cloud-based tools to increase efficiency, and that businesses that thrived during the pandemic “showed a higher percentage of online revenue as well as cloud adoption”.

Xero also recommended SMEs create “meaningful connections” to strengthen relationships with customers, as well as develop partnerships within the ecosystem. The platform also suggested businesses use data instead of instinct to predict and plan for the future like supply chain disruptions.

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