SINGAPORE: For 29 years, Logos Eyecare has served many generations of bespectacled residents in Ang Mo Kio. But over the last 10 years, 56-year-old Jonathan Wong has seen sales at his HDB shop gradually decline, as customers go for trendier options at international chain stores.
“If we are talking about the 1990s being the peak, I’d say there has been a 20 to 30 per cent (decline) until now,” said the optometrist.
“There are a lot more Japanese chain stores,” he explained. “The younger generation, especially between 20 to 30 years old, have their own mindset so they don’t come to individual stores like us anymore.”
Long-time neighbourhood businesses such as Logos Eyecare are the exact target audience of the Heartland Enterprise Centre Singapore (HECS).
Set up officially in March this year, the centre aims to rejuvenate heartland precincts and struggling neighbourhood businesses, starting with those in Ang Mo Kio and Bedok.
“Many of us grew up (coming) into contact with heartland shops. So this is an area I think many Singaporeans want to see how we can help to preserve our heartland enterprises to continue to provide good services and products to our residents,” said Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat during a walkabout in Ang Mo Kio on Tuesday (Jun 4) to showcase the work of HECS.
“But to do this we need to make sure that they stay commercially viable,” he added.
To accelerate the centre’s digitisation efforts in the heartland town centre, a memorandum of understanding was signed between HECS and the Singapore Institute of Retail Studies and Singapore Productivity Centre on Tuesday.
The move will see the Singapore Institute of Retail Studies and Singapore Productivity Centre partner HECS to train and upskill about 100 digital and productivity consultants over the next two years. These consultants will then help heartland enterprises set up their online presence.
In a workforce training session conducted by the Singapore Institute of Retail Studies, trainees were taught how to “tap into the power of Instagram for selling”. It was conducted in Mandarin and contextualised for heartland enterprises.
SOCIAL MEDIA "VERY IMPORTANT" TO BUSINESS OWNERS
For Kenneth Tan, 45, owner of Trust Salon Hair Professional, the course was a “refresher” as he had taught himself to use Instagram last year.
He said he signed up for the course as he understands the power of social media; since getting onto Instagram in September last year, his business has seen a 30 per cent increase in customers.
“They taught me how to post photos, how to (take) videos, what should you post and what you shouldn’t post,” he said.
“Nowadays social media is very important to business owners, so we need to use all these platforms in order get more target audience to improve our business.”
Mr Tan said that he is also looking into using Carousell, Facebook, and Google search engine optimisation and search engine marketing.
As for the optometrist Mr Wong, talks are underway with HECS to update his Facebook page and maintain a presence on other online platforms.
“We also have to fine-tune our products. We have to bring in things that the younger generation look for, like at the moment, they like to go for the Korean look, so we have to bring in that kind of frames,” he said.
While he is optimistic that the changes will bring back the younger crowd, he refrains from being too excited.
“If it requires me to get another staff just to go online, monitor, reply (and) all that, I don’t think I would want to do that,” he laughs.