Speech at Manufacturing Solutions Expo and Singapore Innovation and Productivity Conference 2017

Mrs Josephine Teo, Second Minister for Manpower, Singapore Expo

25 October 2017 Employment practices

Mr Douglas Foo, President of the Singapore Manufacturing Federation,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Introduction

Thank you for inviting me to join you at the Manufacturing Solutions Expo (MSE) and Singapore Innovation and Productivity Conference (SIPC) 2017.

Current Manufacturing Landscape

The manufacturing sector is a key driver of Singapore’s economic growth, accounting for 20% of GDP and half a million jobs. The sector is also setting a good pace for economic growth; in the last three quarters, growth averaged more than 10%.

One reason why we have been able to grow is because the world is our market. It means at the same time, however, that competition is keen and competing on cost alone will not give us an edge.

But this is nothing new and Singapore manufacturers have long been used to the idea that they have to compete on value. Our manufacturers know that they need to innovate to produce better products, invest in technology to produce them more efficiently, and be more responsive to changing customer needs. 

Many multi-national manufacturers based in Singapore have consistently done so. Take for example Panasonic, which first started manufacturing refrigeration compressors in Singapore in the 1970s. Production was labour-intensive. After a decade, the production facilities were upgraded. Faced with a tighter labour market situation, Panasonic introduced automation equipment. This effort has since become a routine; ever year, some part of the factory floor sees new a newly automated process.

Today, as the global business environment continues to evolve, Panasonic continues to transform. Over the next five years, Panasonic’s manufacturing plant in Singapore is set to become a Smart Factory. Its machines will be fitted with sensors to detect problems early, before the production line is forced to come to a stop. Machines will be able to “talk” to each other, and to pass parts from one operation to another directly.

Many MNCs in Singapore continue to thrive because they have never stopped transforming. What about our Small and Medium Enterprises? SMEs contribute a quarter of the output in our manufacturing sector and employ six in 10 of the manufacturing workforce. They are part of the critical supporting industries for manufacturing and are equally impacted by the evolving landscape. To be meaningful and sustainable, any sectoral transformation in manufacturing must therefore involve SMEs. 
 

Need for SMEs to Adopt a Mindset Shift

Fortunately, we now see more SMEs adopting a mindset shift, and embracing transformation.
Let me share one example. An Sing Trading is a manufacturer and distributor of motor vehicle spare parts. In this business, managing inventory is essential to good customer service. But it is also tedious because most of the time, it is still a manual process of stock-taking, uploading details and images of all the products into the database.
An Sing discovered an online B2B solution powered by Excess Inventory Guru Pte Ltd. It is a proven solution pre-approved by IMDA to manage excess inventory in an automated manner.
The company implemented the solution and has since increased its productivity by 20%. Its workers are now freed up to do higher value-added tasks like product servicing and distribution, to help grow its topline.

Role of TACs as Industry Enablers

As companies like An Sing Trading responds to the need to transform, Trade Associations and Chambers (TACs) can help them along the journey. TACs not only understand businesses, but are also able to reach out to a wider pool of SMEs. They are therefore well-placed to support SMEs as they transform, and help them overcome common challenges.

In this regard, the Singapore Manufacturing Federation, or SMF, is on the right track, with its focus to help the manufacturing industry embrace digitisation. Today’s events exemplify their effort to shepherd the industry. Given its importance to the survival and health of all businesses, I hope the SMF will continue to champion digitisation among our SMEs.

TACs can also work together where there are synergies, and become more effective enablers. We are about to witness the signing of MOU for “The Manufacturing Alliance” amongst SMF, Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation (SITF), Singapore Precision Engineering and Technology Federation (SPETA) and Singapore Industrial Automation Association (SIAA).

Through this MOU, the alliance members will collaborate to jointly develop and roll out initiatives with a wider reach. Hopefully, this will help to deepen the capabilities of our manufacturing sector.

Government Support

To encourage more of such partnerships, the Government has enhanced its funding support. High impact, multi-TAC projects under the Local Enterprise and Association Development or LEAD programme can now be supported for up to 90% of the costs, up from the 70% that is usually granted. The Government has set aside $100 million to help TACs drive enterprise and industry development.

Besides helping TACs through LEAD, the Government provides funding support to companies like An Sing Trading through the Lean Enterprise Development, or the LED scheme. This is a joint effort by the Ministry of Manpower, Workforce Singapore, SPRING and other government agencies.

As part of the LED scheme, SMEs can access over 40 ready-to-go solutions designed for a wide range of industries and business functions via the government website Tech Depot, an online platform launched in April this year.

Since its launch in October 2015, the LED scheme has helped more than 5,000 companies like An Sing Trading make progress in their productivity drive.

I strongly encourage SMEs to visit Tech Depot and see if there are suitable ready-to-go solutions for your business needs. Please also join me at the LED Symposium next month where I will share more on our efforts and how we can learn from the experiences of other SMEs.

Conclusion

The manufacturing sector remains a key growth engine for Singapore for the foreseeable future. I’m glad to see the companies being supported by their TACs to transform and grow. I wish you success because that will also mean improved employment outcomes for Singaporeans. Thank you once again for inviting me.

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Lean Enterprise Development Program to assist SMEs in three areas

The government will develop a program for the cluster of companies under the Lean Enterprise Development Program (LEDS) this year; work closely with areas facing human shortages to redesign their work processes to streamline the required manpower; To help small and medium enterprises digital, enhance productivity.

Human Resources Minister Lin Ruisheng yesterday in the Congressional Appropriation Committee debated the Ministry of Personnel expenditure budget, LEDS is currently access to a number of institutions such as the standard new office, the National Federation of Employee Employment and Functional Training Center (e2i) support, more than 2,000 companies In response to this plan, most of the small and medium enterprises.

He said that the government will further promote LEDS in three areas this year. First, the government will accelerate the development and deployment of solutions for enterprise clusters, not just for individual companies. From the enterprise cluster to start, to ensure that the program is widely used to achieve a more provincial, better and faster results.

Simplify processes to deal with human shortages

Secondly, the government will work closely with those areas where labor demand increases or is faced with human shortages due to the aging of the labor force, redesigning its work processes, becoming more lean and have a better career prospects.

On the third aspect, Lin Ruisheng said: "We will strengthen the scope of LEDS, with this year launched a new program, our institutional partners will help more digital small and medium enterprises, and expand foreign markets.

In yesterday's debate, Zhang Sile, Minister of the Ministry of Manpower, pointed out that 30 pre-school centers as a case indicated that these pre-school centers had access to food supply, promotion of manpower and efficiency through central kitchen.

He also pointed out that LEDS pointed out that LEDS is to help SMEs in one of the key ways of digital.

He pointed out that the improvement of productivity and the adoption of technology to benefit from the staff, in the LEDS under the new Bureau of the support of the company is expected to create nearly ten thousand copies of quality work. And through the LEDS program to obtain e2i support, work redesign, the average salary of workers increased by 18%.

For more companies to join LEDS

In addition, he also revealed that nearly 1,100 SMEs benefited from last year's in-service training program (P-Max), with 1,200 professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMET) included in the program.

He also pointed out that the "innovative" thinking in the entrepreneur community blossom everywhere, to promote more models based on the industry cluster model, in the adoption of these solutions, to create a transmission of ten, ten mass of the spread effect.

He said that this year will strive for more companies to join LEDS, the target set at least 2,400 companies.

Excess Inventory Guru Pte Ltd began working with the government in July last year to encourage more SMEs to use their cloud platform to manage and sell more out of inventory.

The company's president, Kwakyama (47), pointed out that many companies have to spend a lot of money to maintain these stocks, such as heavy machinery or parts, but also to hire additional staff to do the goods work, which will increase the cost. General companies will have at least 5% of additional inventory, some of which companies in order to achieve greater economies of scale, will buy a lot of machines, the results of additional inventory up to 30%.

"Very often, small and medium - sized business owners do not have much time to think about how to make the business more streamlined," he said. "We have to let them see how technology can help them save costs and better convince them.

Source: Lianhe Zaobao

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Speech by Mr Teo Ser Luck, Minister of State for Manpower at Committee of Supply 2017

  1. Madam Chair,
  2. Mr Lim Swee Say mentioned the importance of strengthening the bridge of innovation so that more companies can transform and grow, and successfully cross both the technology gate and the market gate.
  3. Companies which can do so would be better placed to tap on growth opportunities, contribute to our economic growth, and create more quality jobs for our workers.
  4. Since the start of October 2015 when Minister Lim launched the Lean Enterprise Development Scheme (LEDS), LEDS had been “playing this bridge”, the bridge of innovation.
  5. To date, 2,100 companies have signed up within LEDS. We are helping them to take steps to cross the technology gate towards the market gate.
  6. The vast majority, close to 90% of the 2,100 companies, were helped by some form of digitisation or technology adoption. For some, it is simply outsourcing, and this is how we are helping SMEs to go digital. But it is not just the companies that have benefitted, workers have also benefitted from improved productivity and technology adoption.
  7. Based on our analysis, nearly 10,000 good jobs are expected to be created by companies, supported by SPRING under LEDS. There has been an average of 18% wage increase for those whose roles were redesigned or upgraded through LEDS projects supported by NTUC’s e2i.
  8. I agree with Mr Chong Kee Hiong that success stories should be shared so that we can encourage more companies to come on board.
  9. So, let me share an example of how the LEDS helped a small SME to benefit from the scheme. The example is “Singapore Curry by Velu”, a restaurant, a small SME, which, implemented a simple software solution to help them become less reliant on manpower.
  10. Before the change, service crew either memorised or took down orders on paper. This is common in smaller shops and restaurants. With over 100 items on the menu, this conventional method was unproductive and also prone to errors. Some orders were missed out and this affected customer service standards.
  11. With support from e2i and WSG, the restaurant introduced an integrated system to link up the ordering system with the point-of-sale system and the kitchen processing system. Orders are now taken using tablets that relay the orders to the kitchen electronically. Service crew no longer need to memorise the orders or rush to the kitchen to relay the orders before they forget, and no orders will be missed out.
  12. As a result, the business operation is now much smoother, and the time taken from ordering to serving has been cut by 40%. Table turnover is also faster, customer satisfaction has increased, and their customer base has expanded too.
  13. Technology has transformed jobs for workers and most importantly, it has also changed the mindsets of the workers. Now, they treat technology as their co-worker, and also as a friend, instead of as a threat.
  14. Let me give an example of a service crew within the restaurant. 65-year-old, Mr Anwar Aziz Marican, is one local worker who has benefitted. He did not know how to use a tablet computer until this change. It is now easier for him to perform his service duties. He picked up new skills, learning how to use technology.
  15. With greater confidence in using technology, he was able to apply his newly acquired skills to also his daily life, learning how to use the WhatsApp message system to communicate with his grandchildren.
  16. And as Mr Anwar improved his productivity and enhanced his skills, his employer increased his salary by about 16%. This shows that when a company innovates, transforms, becomes more productive, jobs improved, the workers benefit as well through acquisition of new skills and higher wages. It’s a win-win for both firms and workers.
  17. Therefore, I fully support Mr Desmond Choo’s suggestion to encourage firms which have received support for productivity improvements, to share their gains with their workers, either in a form of higher wages or investment in their training.
  18. For some, this is already happening.
  19. Under the LEDS, e2i has already built in a wage increase requirement for supported workers, through the Inclusive Growth Programme. And for all firms, whether under LEDS or not, subsidies such as the training subsidies and absentee payroll are provided for companies to continue to invest in upgrading workers.
  20. Mr Desmond Choo will be pleased to know that almost 1,100 SMEs were supported and 1,200 PMETs were placed under the P-Max programme in 2016.
  21. Nonetheless, we can do more to encourage productivity gains-sharing. We will explore this with the LED taskforce agencies in the coming year, and that would be our main focus of the year.
  22. Mr Desmond Choo and Ms Jessica Tan asked how we are continuing our efforts to help more companies transform. I have just described the benefits that can be derived or gained from a single company, or a single enterprise transformation.
  23. This year, our focus would be to provide or push out cluster solution for groups of companies, clusters of companies, sectors, and the industry. We want to make it as pervasive as possible.
  24. We already have some examples. There were 30 preschool centres that have outsourced their backend kitchen and have a single centralised kitchen. They have succeeded in achieving 50% man-hour savings. But we can do more. 
  25. We want to nurture more industry cluster-based projects to create a viral effect in adopting some of the solutions, whether it is technology or just process redesign.
  26. We will do this by supporting the development of cluster solutions that have been pre-qualified by IMDA and the sector agencies, such as SPRING Singapore, to be capable of driving productivity improvement, skills development and innovation across each industry. This include off-the-shelf technology, and those solutions under the SMEs Go Digital Programme, announced by the Minister for Finance in his Budget Speech. 
  27. Let me share with you two solutions pre-qualified by IMDA.
  28. The first solution is one that can be adopted at the individual company level but can also be scaled up at the industry-wide level by multiple firms. This is a Biometrics Attendance Management System from a company called Intercorp Solutions.
  29. It uses highly precise facial biometric technology to capture and track real-time manpower utilisation such as workers’ attendance, working hours, and productivity man-hour spent on-site.
  30. With this solution, companies no longer need to rely on the conventional way of tracking manpower utilisation on-site by marking workers’ attendance manually. For smaller companies, they can actually self-register through the system. This reduces the administrative burden on operational staff, so that they can spend more time on other higher-value jobs.
  31. In addition, this management system allows users to generate detailed and comprehensive graphical reports from the captured workforce data that can be used to enhance their operation.
  32. For example, project managers can use the reports to understand manpower utilisation on-site and improve the operational efficiency with better manpower planning allocation. This solution can also help workers avoid salary dispute on working hours as it can be customised to integrate with any third party payroll software, ensuring seamless transference of working hours for the employers to compute the salary payment.
  33. I am pleased to share that 90 SMEs have adopted this solution.
  34. The second solution, is an online B2B Industrial Excess Marketplace, from Excess Inventory Guru Pte. Ltd that provides a cloud-based platform for manufacturing companies to manage their online sale of excess inventory and automate some of their tedious and manual business operation.
  35. With this solution, companies can expect to reduce their excess inventory holding from 30% to 15%, and achieve manpower savings of 10% as fewer workers are required to conduct stock taking of the excess inventory items. This is a good solution that can help manufacturing companies save carrying costs and can also help them achieve a leaner backend operation. 31 SMEs are using this solution today.
  36. These are just two of the many pre-qualified solutions that have been proven effective, and currently we have 71 solutions. Some are off-the-shelf solutions, spread across 17 industries that we are going to push out and make it pervasive.
  37. Our objective is to accelerate adoption and not just having one or two more companies doing this, but from “Addition to Multiplication”, from individual firms to cluster or industry-wide adoption.
  38. We know that this is not an easy task. We need to handhold and encourage companies to come forward. So we are going to adopt a three-pronged approach: Engagement, Access, and Support for faster development.
  39. First, Engagement. Mr Chong Kee Hiong would be pleased to know that we will step up on the efforts to outreach, through our network of 18 LED multipliers to reach out to more companies and industries. Roadshows will be organised for relevant pre-qualified solution providers to showcase their solutions to the companies.
  40. The LED Taskforce will also work closer with industries, especially those that have less companies applying to LEDS or undergoing the lean management change. Some of these industries can be hospitality, landscape and cleaning, which are those that we hope to encourage more to move up the productivity index. We will also work with relevant agencies that are championing some of the other sectors to push out more solutions to the companies.
  41. Second, we must continue to give companies ready access to all these pre-qualified solution providers. The spirit of LEDS is a “One Stop Service” because we will bring all our schemes and grants between MTI and MOM together.
  42.  Companies which are willing to transform need to only take the first step. They can approach any of the LED agencies or partners, including SME centres. They can also approach e2i, trade associations or chambers, and we will take them through this journey and link them up with these solution providers.
  43. To accelerate adoption, we are prepared to grant the pre-qualified solution providers temporary manpower under LEDS. We want to scale up and help to ramp up these solutions towards the sector.
  44. So, we need to enable those companies that provide these solutions. This flexibility in the manpower will only be granted to those that have demonstrated that they can scale up, and at the same time that there is demand for their solution.
  45. But they also have to consider Singaporeans for this job opportunities before we allow for such manpower flexibilities. As we strengthen the bridge of innovation, to support LEDS in 2017, we are targeting at 2,400 companies this year alone. We want the sector to change, and we want it to be pervasive across all sectors. We hope that the LEDS can not only transform a company, but strengthen the sector as well so that more quality jobs can be created.
  46. Madam Chair, Minister Lim also spoke about the foreign workers being an integral part of our Singapore workforce. They take on demanding jobs few locals want to do, and jobs where there is a shortage of local workers. I agree with Mr Kok Heng Leun that we should ensure that our foreign workers are treated fairly and provided with good working conditions.
  47. It saddens me to hear such a story being related. We are continuously trying to tighten our process to make sure our foreign workers or migrant workers are protected. This would include ensuring that they have safe workplaces as well, and also that they receive their due salaries and get compensated if they are injured on their job.
  48. For foreign workers with valid claims of salary non-payment, MOM will help them see through their claim, allow them to change employer and stay on in Singapore, even if their employer terminates their work pass. However, not all our foreign workers may want to change employers. They may just prefer to return home after their claim is resolved.
  49. So, we need to consult and work with the workers as well. Mr Kok has mentioned about the Korean system and the issues with recruitment cost. Our laws today already cap the costs that employment agencies can charge foreign workers at two months of their salary. But we constantly learn from other countries, and that would include the Korean system as well. We will review and study it further.
  50. I would like to stress that it is every employer’s responsibility to ensure their workers are well-taken care of, their workplaces are safe and also to prevent accidents. In the unfortunate event of an accident, employers must additionally take care of their injured workers, help them recover from their injuries and assist them to return to work quickly.
  51. Foreign workers today receive compensation for work injuries under the Work Injury Compensation Act. When applying for or renewing the work passes of their foreign workers, employers are required to provide insurance policy details to MOM.
  52. Moving forward, MOM will step up efforts to ensure the policies remain valid throughout the worker’s work duration here. We will educate and remind employers on the need to maintain insurance coverage for the workers during their stay. We will partner the General Insurance Association of Singapore and the Singapore Contractors Association Ltd on this front.
  53. Similarly, it is every employer’s responsibility to ensure that salaries are paid on time. When employers wilfully refuse to comply with the law to pay the salaries due to their workers, MOM will take such employers to task.
  54. However, beyond punitive enforcement action against such employers, we should ensure that in the meantime, foreign workers are provided with adequate assistance. In this case, my Ministry works with the Migrant Workers’ Centre (MWC) in this regard.
  55. Foreign workers who approach MOM on housing or other subsistence issues will receive timely assistance from MOM and our partners like MWC.
  56. MWC has been helping foreign workers with various employment issues since 2009. Such assistance includes providing housing and subsistence to workers in need, as well as advising and assisting workers on the enforcement of Labour Court orders. In some cases, foreign workers have been provided with an ex-gratia payment if the prospects of recovering the monies were slim. MWC’s aid to the workers is provided using the Migrant Workers’ Assistance Fund (MWAF) set up in 2012. 
  57. We have seen MWC in action. For example, MWC has been helping two Bangladeshi foreign workers who were badly burnt in a serious workplace accident since January this year. MWC has been working closely with like-minded partners like Silver Ribbon and Healthserve, as well as the hospital to provide emotional, psychological and physical support to the workers. As the employer has exhausted his finances helping the workers, MWC stepped in to provide the workers with housing and financial assistance for the payment of additional surgery through the MWAF.
  58. To better help foreign workers in need, MWC will set up a new office to be co-located with TADM at the MOM Services Centre. This is in addition to their two offices in Serangoon and Geylang. Foreign workers who need help can approach MWC at any of these three locations.
  59. Besides having a safe working environment, it is also important that foreign workers return to a clean and safe accommodation after a hard day’s work. 
  60. These standards ensure foreign workers have access to cleaner and safer accommodation with amenities.
  61. This is exactly the reason why we implemented the Foreign Employees Dormitories Act (FEDA) from 1st January last year to regulate large dormitories that house 1,000 or more workers.
  62. These are mostly purpose-built dormitories (PBD). With the higher standards required under FEDA, foreign workers in licensed large dormitories are assured of safe and well-maintained living spaces. They also have access to recreational areas, and amenities such as ATM machines, canteens and mini-marts, all within their dormitories.
  63. So far, 48 out of the 50 large dormitories have been licensed.
  64. As announced in Aug 2016, factory-converted dormitories (FCDs) which are smaller will have to meet additional conditions, including providing personal lockers to workers, the establishing a feedback mechanism and the installation of Wi-Fi.
  65. While the new requirements were put in place only in January this year, over 70% of FCDs inspected already comply with the standards. For many, before we come up with the additional conditions, many already implemented them.
  66. On foreign domestic workers (FDWs), Mr Louis Ng asked if MOM had plans to support the Centre for Domestic Employees (CDE) and employment agencies in their push for electronic payment of salaries for domestic workers as proof of salary payment in the event of a dispute.
  67. Our employers are required to maintain a record of the monthly salary paid to FDWs. Employers are also required to pay the FDW’s salary electronically if she so requests. Some FDWs may prefer to be paid in cash and to avoid being charged a fee if their bank accounts fall below the minimum sum required.
  68. We are open to Mr Ng’s idea and we also support CDE’s push towards electronic payment.  It is heartening to note that CDE is currently working with some banks to help FDWs set up bank accounts more easily and with better terms. We will help to support and facilitate that.
  69. Madam, migrant workers who have come here to earn a living for their families. We will continue to work with employers, employment agencies, NGOs like MWC and CDE to ensure that these foreign workers can work safely and be treated fairly during their stay in Singapore.

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5 challenges to overcome in developing a B2B marketplace

There are stark differences between B2B and customer-oriented marketplaces. In this interview, we shed some light on the challenges and opportunities

What’s new to B2B are the marketplaces taking highly specialised areas by storm. In this exclusive interview with Arcadier, the limelight is cast on EIG88, a B2B excess inventory marketplace.

What is the company all about?

Excess Inventory Guru, or EIG88 in short, brings to the table of industrialists a long overdue solution to a problem that hits especially close to home with them. It aims to resolve the problem of excess inventory parts that could be liquidated or cleared to free up additional storage space.

While it may strike you as a direct rival of Amazon or Alibaba, it is not just that. EIG88 differentiates itself from its counterparts by dealing solely in the sale of excess industrial inventory, parts and machinery that are not brand new and mainly in the industrial and manufacturing sectors.

We spoke with Sue Lynn Lee, Sales & Industrial Manager of EIG, who was more than willing to shed some light on some challenges faced in developing a B2B marketplace. As we had a chat with her at a cosy corner in her office, she let us in on the different ballgame the startup faces altogether as compared to B2C and C2C marketplaces.

Here are 5 challenges that are useful for aspiring entrepreneurs to know before getting into the thick of developing a B2B marketplace:

1. Chicken-and-egg problem

In the realm of marketplaces, the concomitant chicken-and-egg problem is inevitable. Demand from buyers on the platform drives sellers to join, but if there is no sellers to begin with, where would the buyers come from? So do you, as an entrepreneur build demand or supply first?

An issue that bugs every marketplace, the chicken-and-egg problem is even all the more pressing for the relatively nascent EIG that was launched only in January last year.

Also Read: Infographic: 3 key metrics for measuring marketplace success

Lee pointed out that, “In fact, we are constantly battling with this problem but we find that it is more important to set up a selling base first.” She elaborated  further adding that it just doesn’t make sense when you invite buyers into your marketplace but the whole site is empty. Furthermore, niches in the manufacturing sector can be found when the team looks for sellers first. In that way, the company can understand which areas have more pressing needs and look out for these potential areas.

2. Shifting the mentality behind legacy processes

When asked about the greatest challenge EIG faces thus far, Sue revealed to us that it lies in “shifting perspectives of these long-time bosses, who for the most part, already rely on their smartphones and tablets and computers.”

As much of the industrial world is still very much entrenched in dated methods of running day-to-day operations, many of the businesses are still relying on paper order requisitions, hand-written inventory counts, phone calls and a scribble on a notepad. But you can’t really blame them. It’s worked for them for the better part of a few decades.

But wouldn’t these bosses be incentivised to make changes when the positive impacts far outstrip the hassle of introducing and adapting to these changes? Lee then attributed the bosses’ reservations in changing as they see no need to take on a proactive approach in clearing their inventories, which is exactly an area EIG wants to elicit a change in.

Think about the losses that can be cut when a company transfers its excess inventory that are still valuable and useful to another company. The excess equipment or supplies do not have to sit idle and take up storage space. With that, the team behind EIG wants to help companies “start seeing excess in a more positive light.” As opposed to scraping or writing them off, taking the initiative to clear these excess can prove to be worth their time, with the expertise of EIG.

3. Getting the word of your marketplace out there

Establishing and maintaining an amicable relationship with the users of your marketplace has never been this important. This speaks volume about the B2B marketplaces as it is widely known that loyalty from your business partners are integral to the lifeline of your business, underscoring the importance of building a strong rapport with your business allies.

Communication is key

The crux resides in the lingo used to get your message across, as it is the medium in which you will hook the users in, be it buyers or sellers. There are different considerations to take into account as you speak to a company employee who is faced with a dilemma in procuring inventories and an end consumer who is undecided between a handbag or a purse.

Lee mentioned that the language used in B2B tends to be more professional, direct and technical, whereas that for B2C are more inclined towards layman’s terms to facilitate understanding. Yet, at the same time, the way you communicate with other businesses in B2B still needs to be approachable. The last thing you would want to do is to leave a standoffish impression on your customers.

“As the people we deal with mainly are well-versed in their own industries, we need to know the technical side of it and how they speak so as to liaise better with them. Otherwise, we would not be able to give them the benefits of using this alternative channel to sell their excess inventory,” she explains.

Yet at the same time, the team has to remain approachable to the users of their marketplace by using a little help with social media. After all, when we are not at work, we are on our social media platforms and that includes Facebook. EIG employs this hybrid marketing method of doing sales call in person, which comes across as more sincere; and online marketing like Facebook posts to further reinforce its presence.

Also Read: Want to leverage social media for your marketplace platform? Here are 3 tips to keep in mind

So would sales call or Facebook posts be more effect? It all comes down to priorities: whether the marketplace wants to reach them at their office or playground. Sue recommends reaching out to business partners personally via trade shows and the like, first, before attempting to infiltrate their lives with updates on social media platforms, to build a stronger rapport.  However, the content in these updates have to be of certain value and impact in a bid for the marketplace users to be effectively reminded of EIG.

4. Larger stakes involved in decision-making

Unlike the decisions made in B2C or C2C marketplaces, choices made in B2B bear heavier responsibility, as it can affect the lifeline of the company. Stakes are higher, too. A simple decision by an employee can extend beyond an individual impact to wider implications on the department and even the entire company.

In the exact words of Lee: “You’re no longer making decisions about what would benefit yourself, or what you stand to lose personally. Decisions regarding your company affect whether departments get funding or they get dissolved, whether the company thrives or struggles to stay afloat.”

Put simply, one challenge commonly encountered in B2B marketplaces is managing the risks involved if any step in the buying or selling process goes awry. Knowing the business process inside out and being on your feet would do good in helping you resolve any issue that comes your way. By virtue of that, a greater onus lies on the marketplace as its reputation is on the line.

5. Lower adoption rates and slower process behind buying and selling

As the decision-making behind business processes entails a greater deal of considerations, it is usual to have lower adoption rates and thus a slower process behind buying and selling. So do not be discouraged if you find the pace at which things are moving to be relatively slow.

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