Tuesday, 21 May 2024

UOB launches digital solution to help restaurateurs with inventory

SINGAPORE – Checking invoices is a big part of restaurateur Russell Yu’s day, and he is hoping that a new digital solution he signed up for last month can ease the process of tallying prices.

For eggs alone, Iki Concepts, where Mr Yu, 32, is managing director, receives between 1,200 and 1,400 eggs every two days. The restaurant group has two ramen outlets, a bar and a fine-dining Japanese restaurant.

“Even a price difference of one cent (for each egg) makes a difference,” Mr Yu said. “Sometimes, suppliers may not provide us with the most updated costs in advance, so we have to catch it on our end.”

On Friday (Nov 2), United Overseas Bank (UOB) officially expanded its cloud-based solution UOB BizSmart to include a procurement platform called EzyProcure.

The platform aims to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the food and beverage sector, such as Iki Concepts, buy and keep track of their purchases and prices electronically.

Another upgrade is for buyers to use the bank’s virtual payment solution which provides them with interest-free credit, allowing them to extend their credit cycle up to 90 days, said a UOB spokesman during a media briefing.

The cash flow data can help restaurateurs obtain bank financing as there is greater visibility on their daily operations, the spokesman added.

“With the detailed information, the bank is able to determine the business’ creditworthiness more accurately and… extend credit with more certainty.”

With the upgrades, buyers can select items from their pre-approved suppliers and select the delivery date. Suppliers who are also on the app will receive notifications when there are new orders.

When an order is placed, it creates an electronic record that is aimed at easing bookkeeping pressures, said Mr Edmund Louis Nathan, 38, chief executive and founder of Singapore E-Business, whose core product offering is EzyProcure.

For suppliers who are not on EzyProcure, buyers can manage their suppliers and the items in an ad hoc suppliers module on the app, and the suppliers will receive their orders through an e-mail, Mr Nathan said.

According to a 2016 survey by Singapore Productivity Centre, inventory management is one of the top productivity concerns for more than 60 per cent of food and beverage operators.

Currently, EzyProcure has 927 buyers and 638 suppliers, with about 80 per cent of them in the food and beverage sector.

UOB currently serves more than half of the 7,500 buyers and suppliers in Singapore, and the bank will take steps to encourage them to be part of BizSmart, said its group business banking head Lawrence Loh.

Mr Yu expects BizSmart to cut at least 40 hours a month that the restaurant group currently spends on managing supply chain processes.

“With the time saved, we are able to spend more time studying other aspects of our business and costs, experimenting with new menu items and improving our service,” he added.

To get on EzyProcure as part of BizSmart, companies have to pay a one-time set-up fee of $5,000.

Companies that are eligible for Infocomm Media Development Authority’s SMEs Go Digital programme pay $1,500.

Subsequently, buyers and suppliers need to pay a monthly fee of $100  from the third year onwards, said the UOB spokesman, adding that the bank’s customers will “enjoy preferential pricing”.

In July, the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises worked with OCBC Bank to launch an accounting, human resource and compliance solution called SME Cloud Exchange Network Software.

In March last year, DBS Bank and Xero, a global cloud accounting platform, announced a new electronic way for small businesses to connect their DBS business banking accounts to Xero immediately.

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