SingTel – BT

SingTel eyes online SME sales growth

Telco sees new Net store as another prong to reach SMEs

BULLISH on online sales, Singapore Telecommunications is set to ramp up its newest Internet shopping foray by offering more products and services through this sales channel, with an increased focus on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

In an interview following the launch of Business SingTelShop last week, the telco’s vice-president of business sales, Dumas Chin, told BizIT that ‘broadband, mobile applications and a range of business solutions’ will soon be sold through this store, which targets SMEs.

‘We are exploring the feasibility of offering solutions such as the SingTel HRAssist hosted HR (Human Resource) solution, and also our desktop security solution,’ said Mr Chin.

‘We expect more SMEs to make their purchases through this online store. We want to cater to the evolving buying preferences of our customers, who are increasingly becoming Web-savvy. The Business SingTelshop was launched to serve the rapidly growing number of SMEs that are turning to the Internet for their communications needs, information and transactions.’

Telco rivals MobileOne and StarHub have also been selling products and services to their customers over the Internet.

Both telcos operate longstanding e-shops which are primarily aimed at consumers and individual shoppers.

StarHub, however, could join SingTel on its new online SME sales turf.

A StarHub spokesman last week told BizIT that the telco is seeing more local businesses embracing online shopping and is now mulling the feasibility of setting up an Internet store that, like SingTel’s e-shop, caters to the SME.

But for now the momentum is with SingTel. Flagged off last Monday, Business SingTelShop was created to be a one-stop online mall for SMEs in Singapore, who can search, browse and purchase – using their credit cards – mobile devices and services that are for use locally.

Fresh impetus

The foray adds to SingTel’s existing SME sales channels, which include telephone hotline services and sales outlets.

And it adds fresh impetus to the telco’s online sales momentum, adding a new prong alongside SingTel’s consumer-focused e-shop, which was launched late last year.

This is the first time SingTel is selling to its business customers directly over the Internet.

Mr Chin declined to be specific about sales expectations that SingTel has set for Business SingTelShop at this early stage. He said that SingTel ‘hopes to learn more about the online preferences and purchasing behaviour of our SME customers’.

In the past few months, SingTel has ratcheted up its efforts to woo SMEs. Last December, it rolled out a $99-per-month managed human resource management package called SingTel HR Assist. This hosted package lets SMEs manage employee data, payroll and staff leave online.

Last month, the telco launched a range of subscription-based infocomm technology (ICT) packages dubbed ‘Smart Packages’, which includes communications and IT services like telephony, mobile services, broadband, e-mail, Web hosting, desktop security, data back-up and others.

Mr Chin is confident SMEs will embrace shopping online, not least because it will be a cheaper way to shop, as ‘transactions performed online require significantly less paperwork and manpower – resulting in substantial cost savings’.

To entice SMEs to shop online, SingTel will be coming up with ‘best deals’ that specifically targets online SME shoppers, including special offers not available at other sales outlets, he added.

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