Merchants need to regain their foothold in a post-pandemic world


After an unprecedented and challenging 2020, the world has its eyes set on 2021 to bring a silver lining of hope and recovery. The pandemic was instrumental in setting the stage for what is about to transpire in the coming years. Therefore, as we enter the new year, businesses will need to keep the lessons learned in front of them and brace for yet another phase of the ‘new normal’.

Here are top three priorities for local merchants to note when planning for the new year.

Overcoming the battle for survival

As small homegrown businesses emerge from the pandemic, they require an impetus to sustain their business. The Singapore government has left no stone unturned in introducing various support measures to bolster small businesses and keep them afloat. It is also heartening to see consumers and the business community gather to help them stay in business. PayPal is one of the firms deeply committed to #SupportLocal and continues to celebrate our local merchant community. Through various initiatives, we leverage our extensive network to help merchants get back on their feet.

Therefore, my advice to merchants is to keep their guard up and take full advantage of any support coming their way.  

Looking afar for untapped opportunities

Today, e-commerce has enabled merchants to better connect with consumers, thereby opening doors to greater outreach and innovation. Looking beyond Singapore helps them to increase their existing customer base, diversify risk, and provide an added cushion during lull periods locally. To be more certain, they could even opt to test the market and assess the consumer response before a physical expansion.

We have seen how two of PayPal’s homegrown merchants, Love, Bonito and Motherswork have scaled far and wide riding the high tides of 2020 despite the gloomy retail scene. Love, Bonito, is a locally established fashion brand that has become a multi-million-dollar business selling to consumers all over Asia. Whereas Motherswork specializes in products for mothers and children.

Providing exceptional customer journey

It is crucial for merchants to keep a pulse on evolving customer behavior and use it to adapt their customer journeys. In one of the recent episodes of the PayPal Innotopia Season 2 podcast, Sharon Wong, Founder, and CEO at Motherswork mentioned regarding enhancing their digital experience for customers amidst the ongoing pandemic. Last year, it pivoted the operating model to provide personalised virtual shopping experience during store closures due to Covid-19. It involved having sales personnel taking consumers on a virtual tour of the store using platforms such as WhatsApp, WeChat, Instagram Live, and so on. Thereby, making it convenient for the customer to view the product and receive some guidance from the sales representative on the line.

Similarly, when merchants conceptualize their customer journey there are various elements to be considered. In another episode, Rachel Lim, Co-Founder of Love, Bonito, made an interesting point about how Love, Bonito’s sales picked up by providing the right payment options. In this case, adding PayPal as a payment option enabled consumers, especially those located overseas, to trust the brand and feel comfortable with making the purchase.

Setting foot into the new-normal

This year’s landscape continues to evolve rapidly and it’s no surprise that many merchants still find themselves sailing in uncharted waters. Instead of seeking safer shores, they must strengthen their ships to weather choppy seas. The new-normal will further push merchants to innovate and present ample opportunities for them to re-invent themselves.

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