More digitalisation and innovation opportunties coming to our heartland shops: Low Yen Ling


Heartland shops provide a shopping experience which malls just cannot replicate: They are quieter. More personal. Often, there’s an uncle or auntie who’s personally set up the shop, knows where everything is, and is always happy to chat — in other words, heartland shops feel like home.  

And if Uncle or Auntie needs help with online payments, IT upgrades and attracting more customers with a fresh store layout, the Heartlands Go Digital 3.0 initiative by the PAP Government will continue helping, said Minister of State for Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling during the MTI Committee of Supply debate last week (March 4). 

Also open for business(es): The new Heartland Innovation & Transformation (HIT) Programme for entrepreneurial shopkeepers to skill up their practices and scale up their capabilities.

“We aim to address two specific challenges that heartland enterprises continue to face: Access to shop and retail spaces in heartland precincts to test innovative ideas. And access to resources for innovation,” outlined MOS Low.

Helping heartland shops innovate and go digital is part of the PAP Government’s commitment to transforming and growing our economy together. Here’s how:

Heartlands Go Digital 3.0: expert knowledge for Uncle and Auntie’s shops

Heartlands Go Digital already links shopkeepers with e-payment support across platforms like Fave and Grab.

It also provides up to 80 per cent funding support for new IT equipment as well as for refreshing the store layout and design — visual merchandising does help get customers into shops.

Now comes Heartlands Go Digital 3.0, which brings more expert partnerships with new private sector partners and Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) to heartland shops.  

“These include digital marketing, visual merchandising, service excellence, and financial management knowledge provided through business advisory services, in-shop training and group-based upgrading projects across different precincts and trades,” said MOS Low.

Heartland Innovation & Transformation: new products for new customers

Concurrently, the upcoming 12-month HIT will train heartland enterprises in the art of innovation — and rent out affordable spaces in support.

“We will provide a conducive ecosystem to build enterprise innovation capabilities and scale,” said MOS Low, mentioning that IHLs and the Heartland Enterprise Centre Singapore (HECS) will build up these enterprises’ knowledge and know-how.

“We will offer opportunities for heartland shopkeepers and merchants to learn from the best practices of successful entrepreneurs who are familiar with or well-versed in the heartlands, merchants’ associations and grassroots communities.”

HIT launches during the second half of 2023 with Ang Mo Kio Town Centre as its pilot site.

It, as well as Heartlands Go Digital, are part of the PAP Government’s ongoing four-year Our Heartlands 2025 initiative which helps heartland merchants stay relevant and competitive..

“In the midst of a changing consumer and enterprise landscape, heartland enterprises need to stay relevant and competitive,” said MOS Low.

“The transformation of our heartlands is a multi-year effort and we will continue to help our heartland enterprises sharpen their competitive edge and improve their scale.”

Interested shopowners and potential entrepreneurs can sign up for Heartlands Go Digital here, and learn more about HIT here.