By Sheryl Lee
Crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, youtiao are long sticks of deep-fried dough commonly found in Singapore and other parts of Asia. This humble snack can be eaten plain, dipped in soymilk, coffee or even served alongside a piping hot bowl of porridge. Thanks to its versatility, specialty shops have popped up over the years, selling youtiao in all kinds of novel flavours—cheese, chocolate, peanut and more.
With no lack of competitors, You Tiao Man, a locally-owned business, has kept ahead of the game by constantly reinventing itself and it’s line of products. From pitch-black charcoal to healthier wholemeal youtiao developed in collaboration with the Health Promotion Board, You Tiao Man has been challenging the status quo since its inception three years back. Today, the company is one of the largest suppliers of frozen youtiao in Singapore, serving customers ranging from schools to caterers.
Exotic youtiao flavours aside, You Tiao Man has also adopted new digital solutions to improve its operational productivity. Last year, in the spirit of continual innovation, the company joined InvoiceNow, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA)’s nationwide e-invoicing network, and made the switch from paper invoicing to e-invoicing.
Humble hawker beginnings
According to You Tiao Man co-founder Ms Audrey Chew, the company has its roots in a humble hawker stall set up in Singapore in the 1940s. It was only in recent years that You Tiao Man progressed to larger-scale youtiao manufacturing. “Our vision and mission of the business is to uphold the traditional food culture of Singapore by challenging the status quo and employing new and innovative methods of operating the business,” she shared.
“We may be a heritage brand, but we continuously challenge ourselves to push the boundaries.”
Pushing the boundaries goes beyond interesting youtiao flavours—it includes digitalising operations to improve productivity as well. One key example is the company’s adoption of e-invoicing. E-invoicing involves the direct transmission of invoices in a structured digital format across finance systems. It operates on the open standard Peppol network, which is also known as the InvoiceNow network.
Companies who join the InvoiceNow network and transition to e-invoicing enjoy smoother generation of invoices, faster payments, and a greener alternative to traditional paper-based invoicing. For You Tiao Man, generating invoices electronically through its Quickbooks accounting system and sending them directly to its customers’ accounting systems has increased efficiency while reducing the risk of typographical mistakes, human errors and even fraud.
Cooking up change
While You Tiao Man has always prioritised innovation and digital transformation, Ms Chew expressed it was difficult getting many of her customers and suppliers to transact via e-invoicing due to the backward nature of the F&B industry. “Few customers and suppliers accept digital copies of invoices because traditionally they require a signed and stamped copy to process payment,” she said. “You would be surprised to know that hotels, caterers and restaurants still predominantly make use of paper invoices.”
“Most of our customers who support e-invoices sent under InvoiceNow are from education institutes,” Ms Chew added.
“We have started to send e-invoices to them directly from our accounting software and no longer need to do so using the Vendors@Gov portal. This is very convenient and easy. It takes less than 3 minutes to submit an e-invoice.”
Having reaped efficiency and productivity gains through e-invoicing, Ms Chew hopes more of You Tiao Man’s customers and suppliers can join the network and likewise benefit from InvoiceNow. “We look forward to more F&B businesses joining the InvoiceNow network and sending e-invoices so we can all benefit from going digital as a business community,” she concluded.
To find out more about InvoiceNow and join the network as You Tiao Man has, register for IMDA’s monthly business briefing webinar—available in English and Mandarin—here!