Referring to his company’s expansion into three overseas markets last year, Mr Lim of Leong Guan reiterated that the Singapore market is “very limited” in its consumer base.

And while the cost of raw materials has increased in recent years, the price of noodles hasn’t risen as quickly, squeezing profit margins.

“Companies should focus on outside Singapore to increase their sales…companies here are hurting themselves when they don’t raise their prices although the cost price has increased…this competition by the price per night (to businesses) in Singapore,” he said.

“Internationalization is something that has to be done no matter what, the pandemic is only making it more difficult.”

Agreeing, Mr Branthonne said that while Singapore has a booming construction industry, its small size means it accounts for just 0.2% of global gross domestic product for construction.

Nonetheless, what Singapore lacks in market share, it makes up for in talent and expertise, he added.

CHARTING A SUCCESSFUL PATH ABROAD

For local businesses that have begun their international expansion, they will not only need to pivot their business model to adapt to current challenges, but also use digitalization to cultivate connections with overseas consumers and potential partners.

Mr. Lim of Leong Guan said the company decided to boost its online presence to compensate for its lack of physical presence at trade shows.

“For people who can’t travel, they’ll usually do their research on Google to find out more about the company, if it’s trustworthy.

“We’ve been fortunate to have several press articles…and we’ve also worked with food bloggers…it’s been indirectly helpful in letting customers know who we are,” he said.

Mr. Tan, Deputy Managing Director of ESG, noted that the pandemic has also created a demand for digital solutions.

These range from web conferences and virtual events to e-commerce platforms and “omnichannel contact centers” for customer engagement.

Therefore, digitization offers new opportunities for companies looking to internationalize. “They can leverage online platforms as a quick and less resource-intensive approach to test markets and grow without a physical presence, or even develop new technology solutions to meet the growing global demand for remote services in sectors such as education and health,” Tan said. noted.

Beyond forming partnerships, companies could also consider mergers and acquisitions of foreign companies or other local companies with a presence abroad.

That’s what the Carousell marketplace platform did during the pandemic.

Carousell co-founder Marcus Tan told TODAY in an email response that he acquired Ox Street – another local marketplace platform for sneakers and streetwear – in November 2019. ‘last year.

In addition to having a presence in Southeast Asia, Ox Street has also “built trust by authenticating every pair of sneakers” that is transacted on its platform.

“Ox Street was founded to bring a more seamless experience to buying and selling in these categories,” Mr. Tan said. “We see a huge opportunity in bringing this capability and their learnings to double our (business) efforts.”

The acquisition will allow Carousell to trade sneakers and streetwear in the eight markets it serves – Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Hong Kong – on “a much larger scale big”.

Mr Branthonne of Novade agreed that partnerships are “critical” for international expansion.

“In our business, developing relationships with customers takes time and costs money. When we develop a new market, we engage partners who have existing relationships with our target market.

“During the pandemic, we have increased our engagement with international partners, which has helped us grow our international business without being able to travel and meet customers directly,” he added.

ESG’s Mr. Tan agreed that it was important to find the right partners with the right networks, adding that his agency actively helps companies expand overseas by facilitating connections with “credible partners and networks”. ecosystems such as start-up accelerators or higher education institutes”.

ESG’s Market Readiness Assistance Grant also assists companies expanding overseas by helping them identify partners in overseas markets, as well as providing support for setting up and overseas market promotion, Mr. Tan said.

To succeed, companies must also look further afield to markets such as Africa, South America and the Middle East.