SINGAPORE (June 9): Chen Foon Kee (photo) sits hunched atop a four-inch stool, weaving rattan threads through the wooden skeleton of a chair. As a Chinese soap opera runs in the background, the 70-year-old hammers a nail in to lock the threads in place. It will take Chen more than three days to complete this chair, which he can sell for about $420.

That pace is fine with Chen, as business at Chun Mee Lee Rattan Furniture is much slower than it used to be. In the 1990s, Chen and his father would sell some six shipping containers worth of rattan furniture every month. Many of the items went to cruise ships, which needed deckchairs and other outdoor furniture. These days, patrons of his Jalan Bukit Merah shop are more likely to be individuals. Many are just looking for someone to repair their old chairs.

So, when a Temasek Polytechnic student came knocking on Chen’s door to persuade him to go digital to revive his business, he was very sceptical. “[Going digital] gives us exposure, so people [will] know where to find us if they want rattan furniture. But the fact is there is weak demand for rattan furniture now,” he says. He is already using WhatsApp to communicate with his clients, and adds that people can find his shop through Google Maps anyway.

To continue reading,

Sign in to access this Premium article.

Subscription entitlements:

Less than $9 per month
3 Simultaneous logins across all devices
Unlimited access to latest and premium articles
Bonus unlimited access to online articles and virtual newspaper on The Edge Malaysia (single login)

Related Stories

Stay updated with Singapore corporate news stories for FREE

Follow our Telegram | Facebook