NTUC CIO ponders B2C portal

In a time when B2C portals are sinking below the horizon, NTUC is looking into a B2C portal to serve its members better. Can good intentions buoy this portal?

In a time when B2C portals are sinking below the horizon, NTUC is looking into a B2C portal to serve its members better. Can good intentions buoy this portal?

SINGAPORE - NTUC, the biggest union group in Singapore wants to serve its members via the Internet and it is pondering a B2C portal to increase their interaction online. 

"We could have a centralized portal that provides links to our insurance, supermarket, pharmacy and childcare centers, or continue to improve on our existing supply chain to our business partners," Martin Tsang shared with ZDNetAsia, "or we could do both."  

With more than 300,000 members from 70 trade unions in its register, the newly-appointed CIO wants to create a rich experience that goes beyond the traditional dividends and rebates given out each year.  

Martin explains that the NTUC has a strong brand name that everyone remembers. At their Fairprice supermarkets, the cashier never fails to ask whether you hold an NTUC Link Card which members could use for rebates.  

He admits that although every co-operative unit is doing well on its own...the question remains on how we could serve them better under one banner. 

Currently, union members visit the websites of their choice separately and there is very little B2C activity on the website. NTUC has, altogether, some ten co-operatives, namely: Fairprice supermarkets, Income insurance, Childcare centres, Choice Homes apartments, NTUC Club, Denticare, Eldercare, Foodfare catering, Healthcare pharmacies, print and radio media, and Thrifty & Loan Co-operatives. 

NTUC Comfort taxis is a separate business and was listed on the Stock Exchange of Singapore in 1997.

More page views preferred
The challenges that lie ahead for the IT-veteran is how to make their website more sticky for their members and other browsers. Before that can happen, members need to have PCs and Internet connections. "That was why we have the S$1 a day PC promotion where a member can pay by installments over three years for a S$1,000 PC. I’m happy to say that more than 10,000 members have subscribed." 

With that kind of response, it is no wonder Martin is hoping for a similar success rate if NTUC offers B2C services on its website.

Currently their web site has roughly 65K page views a month, and Martin thinks that this figure is too low.

"We are reviewing our strategy for the web sites and I don't have any planned figures. However, we are a bit ambitious and are looking at 10 times the page views, if possible within the next 12 months," said the determined CIO.  

Every which way he takes, Martin Tsang can't lose because their existing website already says that it is the one-stop service hub for unionists and members.