Revival with Technology
Words by Earnest Lim

How a 28-Year-Old Singaporean SME Adopted Technology To Increase Productivity, Profits And Customer Satisfaction

Jaho Trading grew from strength to strength over 28 years to become a well-known and reliable supplier of ironmongery products. However, as the business grew, its familiar but often dated ways of operations began to hinder its ability to grow. Technological adoption and process improvement became a pivotal step that helped unlock growth and remove roadblocks for the business.

Jaho Trading was established in 1993 to provide wholesale and retail ironmongery products. Contractors, handymen and do-it-yourself (DIY) customers have relied on Jaho Trading for 28 years to provide high-quality iron fittings and fixtures. Over the years, the company opened four outlets across Singapore. However, with the growth of the business, the existing operating procedures could not keep up with the growing complexity.

Jaho Trading relied heavily on manual processes to perform day-to-day operations. The manual workflows started to hamper the business’ productivity and increase unnecessary expenses. Customer sales and inventory were manually handwritten by employees, resulting in inaccurate stock counts due to illegible handwriting. Furthermore, stock counts were performed manually, which resulted in recounts, the need for inventory rectification and accounting discrepancies. Due to the abundance of paperwork, several instances of missing purchase order invoices resulted in guesstimated retail prices of goods sold. All these issues piled up that resulted in unnecessary losses for the business.

Jaho Trading approached NTUC’s e2i (Employment and Employability Institute) to alleviate its productivity woes by adopting technology under the WorkPro Job Redesign initiative. Under the programme, Jaho Trading invested in an inventory management system (IMS) integrated with a point-of-sale (POS) solution. The IMS provided Jado Trading employees with complete visibility of its inventory, reducing the number of errors that previously arose and the frequency of physical stock counts. The POS component allowed transactions to go digital for employees and customers, cutting the number of manual processes needed during the sales process. Employees can now focus on assisting customers with their needs which significantly improved the quality of customer service. Jaho Trading’s older workers learned the new processes quickly and became familiar with the technology. The new system also enabled Jaho Trading’s employees and management to generate sales and accounting reports automatically. Before the upgrade, reports were generated by hand after sorting through reams of paper records. Furthermore, this new feature allowed employees to quickly access data when assisting a customer, reducing the time required to respond to queries.

Adopting technology allowed Jaho Trading to increase its productivity, reduce unnecessary losses and improve customer service. Older workers, who play a crucial role in the company, have seen an improvement in the quality of their jobs thanks to technology. They no longer have to memorise tedious processes to perform their tasks effectively. For example, one of the older workers used to prepare the daily sales reports by hand; this tiresome task can now be completed in just a few clicks with the new system. The workplace is also safer due to the automated inventory tracking system. The automated system reduces the need for older works to check for stock and inventory manually, which can sometimes be bulky or placed at hard-to-reach areas. Through the WorkPro Job Redesign initiative, Jaho Trading provided two workers with wage increments and a one-time cash incentive for adopting the new technology. As a result of the process improvement and technological upgrades, Jaho Trading’s team can better serve its customers while reducing lost profits.

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