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    Apr 25, 2014

    Store travels overseas, via Tampines

    JUST a year ago, some might have written off Richard Teh's brick and mortar electronics business as a sunset industry.

    Today, Mr Teh, 52, is on the brink of taking his store in Tampines overseas, after streamlining and digitising his operations with government subsidies.

    The high-tech moves at New City Electrical Trading include tracking his stocks through a computerised system, doing away with three clerks taking stock manually.

    With fewer hands needed, Mr Teh is planning to open an outlet in Malaysia in September, and another in Myanmar next year.

    "I wouldn't have taken the risk if not for this system. Now I know how much I'm earning, how much stock is left, through the computer without being there physically," he said.

    Like Mr Teh, more small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have signed up with schemes, such as the Productivity and Innovation Credit, to improve their operations.

    Over the past year, more than 20,000 firms also sought help at 12 SME centres, which give free business advisory services to SMEs. There are plans to add at least three more centres, said Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck.

    But yet there are some heartland retailers that choose to stay within their comfort zone, like Tampines Four Star Provision & Stationery Traders.

    "We have been running our business like this for 30 years - it is comfortable," said the store's co-owner, Ameer Koyakayil, 63.

    Mr Teo said it would take time for such retailers to change their mindset, but it is necessary. "To survive and remain profitable, retailers must continually upgrade and look at how they can attract more customers and grow their business," he said.