It’s without a doubt that the pandemic has caused many job losses. Other than looking for another job, the other option would be setting up your own business. To many, this is often easier said than done. For anyone who has been in the corporate world, being in a job means income stability with basic health insurance covered, working expenses covered by the company. Once you are out on your own, every cent will be out from your own pocket and there is no guaranteed of income. Yet, with the rise of internet and mobile usage, we are seeing a rising trend of entrepreneurs, building their business purely online. What are their motivation and challenges? The Digital-Co. spoke to Madam Soon, owner of online floral shop, 9blooms Flowers And Gifts, to find out.
Q: What was your motivation behind setting up 9blooms Flowers And Gifts?
A: When I was young, flowers worked like a mood changer for me. Looking at blooming flowers help improve my mood and made me happy and contented. Till today, I find beauty in all kinds of flowers and have gained a lot of positive inspirations in life. As a florist, I know that flowers can bring a lot of joy to the recipient. Thus I decided there and then, that when I grow up, I want to have my own flower business to spread this love and happiness to everyone. When starting out this business, I made the decision to go through the whole customer journey myself, from taking orders to fulfilment right down to delivery. It was tough, but the final stage of seeing the smile on the recipient’s face made all the hard work worthwhile. I believe every bouquet has a unique story behind it, whether it’s courtship, marriage, friendship or kinship. Everyone deserves a loving pat with a bouquet of flowers and I derive immense pleasure and satisfaction to be able to help in this process of ‘delivering joy’.
Q: What are the opportunities and challenges of an online entrepreneur?
A: With the surge of online businesses, competition is keen and consumers can click from one site to another to make comparisons easily. For businesses, opportunities abound as we are able to reach as many or as little customers that we can, online, and not be limited by the location of a brick and mortar store.
Q: Why do you think this online business model works in current times?
A: Increasingly, we see more and more people on their mobile for a good part of their waking hours. They are also doing near to everything on their phones, from scrolling through their social media accounts, ordering food, buying gifts, making payment, watching shows and more. Many people are not going to physical stores now to fulfill their shopping needs. Instead, they are going online. As such, it is natural for businesses to have an online presence or even simply be 100% online to save on rental cost and overheads. Furthermore, in the midst of this pandemic, many would now prefer to shop online due to the safe management measures in place in physical stores.
Q: Would you foresee more entrepreneurs setting up online stores?
A: Yes for sure. More entrepreneurs will go online since the start-up and operating costs are lower compared to maintaining a physical store. With a population of 5.83 million people and 4.92 million internet users, Singapore has one of the highest internet penetration rates (84 percent) in the world, according to We Are Social and Hootsuite’s Digital in 2019 Singapore report. It’s no secret that the rental cost in our land-scarce Singapore is relatively high as compared to many countries. In addition, many Singaporeans, young and old, are getting more creative or have specialised skills or services to offer. If an opportunity (which is now) presents itself, many might go online to give it a try. After all, setting up social media accounts is free. Ultimately, it is how you strategise to keep your business going and sustainable in the long run.
Q: How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors?
A: 9blooms is largely driven by word-of-mouth referrals. We focus on personalization for exceptional customer experience. We are able to cater to varied customer requests and budget. We believe that when it comes to meeting the customers’ needs, no task is too big or too small. We are committed to delivering that personal touch.