Paving A Sustainable Business Future for SMEs
Building business resilience by leveraging evolving consumer trends
In Singapore, over 8,600 businesses ceased or filed to cease operations in April 2020, despite government support to help SMEs cut costs. However, consumer demand did not wane – it mainly pivoted to online platforms. Across Southeast Asia, 47% of consumers decreased purchases from brick and mortar stores and 30% increased their online spending from the safety of their homes. They spent more time at home discovering applications they intend to keep using to for the purchase of essential goods.
With 64% of Southeast Asia’s SMEs ranking technology as the top investment priority in 2020, setting up the right digital infrastructure, processes and supply chains will serve as the baseline for this transformation.
Pivoting logistics and delivery models to capture growth opportunities
New technologies are enabling increased visibility into supply chains, revolutionizing the logistics sector. Innovations such as Artificial intelligence (AI) have reshaped predictive intelligence, in that businesses can now estimate consumer demand more accurately and systems are able to gather data and synthesize it to make reliable forecasts that help companies better plan their shipping needs.
The Internet of Things (IoT), sensor tracking of shipments, and automation are becoming increasingly accessible and available. Robotics is an area that will transform logistics in several ways, for instance, by increasing transparency in supply chains to allow companies to create digital dashboards that reflect relevant data and business tools to maximise efficiency. At FedEx, we are trialing Roxo, the FedEx Sameday Bot, which is designed for same-day and last-mile deliveries. Navigating us into the future, Roxo utilises pedestrian-safe machine-learning algorithms and technologies to carry out safe, effective deliveries.
For deliveries that require temperature control in the health sector, SenseAware is another innovation that FedEx has designed to help businesses – especially healthcare and pharma companies - navigate the future of logistics. Sensaware tracks time, humidy levels, temperature and other aspeccts for sensitive packages that require very specific shipping conditions and round-the-clock visibility.
Leveraging global trade opportunities for sustainable SME growth
Along with intra-Asia lane, the Asia-Europe lanes are expected to outgrow the Trans-pacific lane as well. Trade lane diversification is becoming a reality as businesses reduce dependencies on one country, production location, or a single supplier. There is a move towards diverse sourcing and digitalisation to build stronger, smarter, and decentralised, resilient supply chains that will help ensure lasting recovery. That said, the IMF said the eurozone economy would contract by a staggering 8.3% this year, a free fall not seen since the 1930s Great Depression. Comparatively, attributed to the relative success in containing the pandemic in the region, Asia is well positioned for economic recovery, especially within parts of Southeast Asia. This coupled with Asia’s growing and increasingly digital-savvy middle class, provides an opportunity for SMEs to pursue innovation, and be present in a space where the consumers are to offer them exactly what they need.
As people reassess their lives and businesses post COVID-19, opportunities for innovation lie in more sustainable ways. By continuous commitment to digitalisation of business operations, SMEs can build operational resilience, empowering them to evolve into established brands with regional and even global footprints.
Find out more on FedEx innovation efforts in the Asia Pacific region on our LinkedIn page.