By Jill Arul
From laksa to chicken rice, Singapore is famous for its mouth-watering food options and its nation of foodies who are fiercely passionate about the local fare made by hawkers across the country. However, a lesser known—although equally important—part of our food sector is its thriving food manufacturing industry consisting of ready-to-eat meals, snacks, sauces and more.
One such company in the industry is You Tiao Man, a locally-owned heritage business producing exciting new flavours like Otah Charcoal You Tiao and healthier choice Wholegrain You Tiao. Tracing its humble origins as a hawker stall first set up in the 1940s, You Tiao Man has since grown into one of the largest manufacturers of frozen You Tiao in Singapore.
You Tiao Man’s success can be attributed to its unique culture of maintaining tradition while embracing transformation both in their products and business processes. Young, forward-thinking and modern, they understand that going digital is the only way to move forward in today’s tech-driven era. The company has since adopted digital solutions like data analytics tools and embraced the Infocomm Media Development Authority’s (IMDA) nationwide e-invoicing initiative, InvoiceNow, to improve their accounting processes.
While the transition to digital may seem daunting for some, the young talents of You Tiao Man—such as Sales and Operations Executive Ms Jamie Ku—are leading the charge, harnessing the power of technology to revolutionise the company’s daily operations.
Placing digital first
As a digital native, the company’s technological transformation was not difficult for Ms Ku to adjust to, having been raised in a world where virtual living, constant contact and swiping screens is very much the norm. Motivated by her love for food and inspired by You Tiao Man’s passion for preserving traditional hawker dishes, Ms Ku joined the team to gain insight and experience in the industry.
With her keen eye for efficiency, Ms Ku takes charge of the company’s day-to-day operations.
As soon as she gets to work each morning, Ms Ku organises and prioritises her tasks, usually beginning with responding to customer emails and addressing urgent issues. Given the still ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, one of her key priorities lately has been ensuring a good customer experience for You Tiao Man’s online shoppers.
Customers enjoy a personalised experience. You Tiao Man has adopted a digital-first strategy so that we can recognise what our customers want. In You Tiao Man, technology acts as an enabler and differentiator, allowing the company to focus on the issues that really matter.
In her role, Ms Ku puts her well-honed digital skills to good use. For instance, each day she generates fresh ideas to increase sales on You Tiao Man’s sales channels—regularly speaking with customers to understand their needs and conveys them to the management team. Drawing on her digital intuition, Ms Ku curated page banners and product images on e-commerce platforms to improve customer experience and increase awareness.
Ms Ku’s innate familiarity with technology makes her especially well-positioned to spearhead digital change throughout the company, with encouragement from You Tiao Man’s forward-looking management team. To go digital-first, the company deploys a variety of tools—ranging from a customer resource management solution to a data analysis program and even a service desk solution that consolidates all customer requests in a single platform. Beyond this, they even implemented a ‘data lake’ to leverage big data in making better and more informed decisions for their marketing and operations.
Impressively, Ms Ku and her colleagues even self-learnt digital marketing to promote You Tiao Man’s tasty products in-house. Collectively, her efforts have not gone unnoticed. Just three months after taking over the company’s online platforms, her campaigns led to a 600 percent increase in sales on Shopee, doubling the number of followers in the process.
From tedium to tranquillity
With her successes in the digital realm, it’s clear that Ms Ku’s drive and efficiency shines through, which is why she does her best to ensure that each job does not exceed two hours. However, there was one particularly tedious task that always ran over, disrupting the rest of her day: invoicing.
Before adopting InvoiceNow, she would carry out invoicing manually. Ms Ku would input data into an Excel sheet, print out hard copies and check that it tallied. Reviewing the sheet was extremely important to prevent mistakes, but after several hours of staring at numbers, she had the natural tendency to misread or mistype information—a common issue with such manual invoicing methods.
Despite making its name as a purveyor of traditional food and flavours, with its digital-first mindset, You Tiao Man was eager to adopt new technologies like e-invoicing. Through the InvoiceNow network, invoicing involves the quick and direct transmission of invoices across finance systems—no confusing Excel sheets or paper needed!
This simple change to their daily operations has provided a world of difference for Ms Ku and her colleagues. Instead of two people spending four hours trying to make sense of an Excel sheet, e-invoicing is now simple and automated—reducing mistakes, increasing efficiency and saving a total of three manhours to give Ms Ku more time to complete other tasks.
Invoicing is now so much easier to manage with InvoiceNow. There’s no manual paperwork that I need to do and it can be completed in an hour or even less depending on the orders. Once employees get hold of how the system works, they will realise the amazing changes it brings!
In fact, since the transition to e-invoicing, Ms Ku has moved the task of invoicing through InvoiceNow to the end of her day and even considers it relaxing. As she can confidently complete the work within an hour, it has become a calming—and consistent—way to wind down in the evening.
By harnessing the many possibilities offered by digital solutions, Ms Ku’s digital-first mindset is not only making processes more efficient. Indeed, through her actions—and its ripple effects throughout the company—she is ensuring that You Tiao Man’s historic legacy perseveres in today’s modern era.