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TECHNOLOGY | editor, Hong Kong

Dominic Wong shares insights on the trends and shifts in APAC's retail sector

He is one of the speakers in the recently concluded Retail Asia Virtual Conference 2020.

Dominic has successfully transformed and turned around several major retail organisations in North and South East Asia. Passionate about leadership and people development, he believes company culture must be the heart of every corporate wide change.

Prior to his general management career, Dominic has held the regional finance director position at a leading grocery retailer in Hong Kong and South China, as well as CFO and financial controller positions in Australia and China.

Dominic is one of the speakers in the Retail Asia Virtual Conference 2020. In an interview, Dominic spoke about the trends in Asia’s retail sector for the past months. He also gave insights to retailers on how they can offer both a contactless and frictionless shopping experience to their customers.

Briefly tell us about the trends in Asia's retail sector for the past six to 12 months. Where does it currently stand compared to the other regions?

The answer depends on which sector and which country and whether you are a brick and mortar retailer or a pure play internet retailer.

Firstly, let’s refer to the traditional brick and mortar retailers. For instance, the supermarket and the lesser-extent convenience sector has emerged unscathed. The strong players in the supermarket sector in many countries have experienced mid to high double digit growths as restaurants shuttered.

In many discretionary sectors though, times have been very challenging for the participants

Second, the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of internet commerce. In countries like China, it was already extremely prevalent. In SEA, the pandemic has accelerated the adoption which has benefited in particular the pure plays.

Asia as a whole probably is doing better than the rest of the world. Having said that, there are large sections of the demographics here that are badly affected by the pandemic, losing their jobs and having their livelihoods gravely impacted. Value retailing is never more relevant than now. Retailers need to be cognisant of this new reality—where some of the customers are badly affected by the pandemic and thus, their consumer behaviour largely altered from before

What are the current challenges that retailers are facing and how are they adapting to these?

Challenges are plenty and complex. For many retailers, it is a matter of survival.

I would say though, one of the biggest challenges is the ability for retailers to adopt to a new plan, remove and delay unnecessary priorities and last but most critically, how to get their teams re-focus on, most of the time, new priorities

How can retailers offer both a contactless and frictionless shopping experience, amidst flux and changing demand?

Retailers need to firstly do a market and environment audit. What types of customers are they serving and what is the best way to remove the pain points in the shopping journey. This may be contactless payments but my view is that companies should look beyond technology solutions.

It is an opportunity to reimagine your business model.

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