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The nuts and bolts of digitalisation
Seng Hua Hng Foodstuff, the local nuts manufacturer of the Camel brand of nuts, has big plans ahead. It wants to bring the brand to consumers beyond Singapore shores, and sees digitalisation as a necessity to stay relevant and competitive.
Established in 1974, the company is a first-time winner of the Enterprise 50 (E50) Awards, a testament of its open and adaptive attitude in tapping technology to improve its business.
Says its director Poh Shih Yin: “Winning this award is an attestation to the work we are doing to innovate and grow the business locally and internationally.”
She says digitalisation is a necessity for manufacturers, as they “explore different technologies to improve business processes, shorten cycle times, reduce wastage and increase efficiency”.
Implementing technology to improve productivity is not new to the company, as it has in place an accounting system and automated its production processes some 18 years ago.
Says Ms Poh: “Ten to 15 years ago, it was about basic technology solutions such as office productivity tools, and accounting systems, which include enterprise resource planning.
“Today, digital transformation is about re-imagining how we bring together people, data and processes to engage customers, empower employees, optimise operations, and transform products and services.”
She adds that it is easier these days for smaller companies to implement technological solutions, as they are more affordable and not just for big companies with big budgets.
Government grants have also enabled small and medium-sized enterprises to implement new technologies. For instance, Seng Hua Hng has used the Capability Development Grant for its automation projects related to the Camel brand.
Earlier this year, the manufacturer implemented a mobile sales and inventory management system that allows staff to check its product inventory and where stocks are — be it at the warehouse or distribution points.
Through the system, sales staff can also transmit orders directly from customers to the warehouse, where goods will be packed and invoices generated. Thanks to the system, physical records that detail when goods have been transferred have also been eliminated, as it can track inventory movement between departments.
The company also managed to overcome its reliance on manual labour. Due to a high turnover among staff in its manufacturing and distribution facility, it automated some processes such as the packaging of nuts and manual keying in of invoices.
Going where the customers are
While streamlining its operational processes, Seng Hua Hng has also taken steps to reach out to a wider audience within and beyond Singapore by developing its online presence.
It has established its own e-commerce store and made its products available on online platforms such as Redmart and Shopee, as well as multi-retail online platform Lazada, to tap its regional customer base.
“With e-commerce, we are able to reach consumers outside Singapore. Consumers in countries where we do not have a presence will also be able to buy and enjoy our Camel brand of healthy wholesome nut snacks,” says Ms Poh.
To reach out to younger, digitally savvy consumers, the company has hired a digital marketer to manage its Facebook and Instagram accounts.
On Facebook, it has implemented a chatbot to automate community management and provide round-the-clock customer service. Queries that are beyond the capabilities of the chatbot will be managed by customer service officers.
Seng Hua Hng is also focusing on targeting millennials and young adults who are becoming increasingly health-conscious.
To be the top brand of choice, it has launched a new series of single-serve pack of assorted dried fruits and nuts. Called the Power Bounce and Power Revive respectively, they cater to the “active individual who wants a healthy, satiating snack on-the-go”.
But digital transformation still poses a challenge for the company. After all, changing employee mindsets and finding the right service providers to ensure the successful implementation of a digital project is not easy.
“We first need to find a good technology partner who is able to deliver within our budget. Internally, other than a core team of change makers, we need to align the whole organisation to understand and embrace the fact that change may be chaotic initially, but will bring about a better tomorrow eventually,” says Ms Poh.
Nevertheless, the mindset at Seng Hua Hng is a forward-thinking one.
She adds: “We keep abreast of new trends and innovations in our industry. We look at product, process, and business model innovation. Innovation and change are key to being relevant to consumers and staying ahead of the competition.”