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TECHNOLOGY | Staff Reporter, Singapore
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Industry leaders map out the future of retail

Over 200 participants attended the first-ever Retail Asia Virtual Conference.

Customer convenience is key and should be the priority amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is one of the recommendations shared by industry leaders as they discussed how they would reconstruct preexisting retail business practices during the first-ever Retail Asia Virtual Conference (RAVC) held on 8 October. Moderated by Retail Asia publisher Tim Charlton, the conference was joined by more than 200 professionals from the retail industry.

Industry leaders also said that online presence should be bolstered, customer experience be improved, and on-ground operations be personalized and made more contactless.

According to Ernst & Young ASEAN consumer products and retail sector leader Olivier Gergele, four key themes would shape the future of retail experience: the growth of consumer communities, the normalisation of personalisation, the eventual overlap of online and offline transactions, and the normalisation of unmanned services.

Physical shopping like never before

Retailers will see through the pandemic by creating a map for a safe reopening and building the trust of consumers, according to Gergele.

For SM Prime Holdings president Steven Tan, the first way to go is to innovate and adapt. “We also have to learn how to digitise and how to use technology to our advantage.”

Senheng Electric reengineers the business process through their Centralize Delivery Management (CDM) platform, according to founder and executive chairman KH Lim.

Meanwhile, JD.com president for SEA Soon Sze-Meng said that in China, they are concentrating on boundaryless retail experience in both of their online and offline channels. As for other markets, they are actively working with local partners to ensure the best customer experience.

The shift to digital platforms

Customer attitude will also change due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Euromonitor International research manager for services and payments Warangkana Anuwong.

She also shared Euromonitor’s report about the emerging shopping trends, which are the following: brand engagement goes virtual; e-commerce becomes the default setting; contactless retail becomes more valued; commerce with robotics emerges; and delivery sees forced reinvention.

Regarding the adaptation of traditional brick and mortar establishments to online platforms, ex-CEO of Courts Malaysia and ex-croup chief strategy officer of Courts Asia Daniel Wong said companies need to have an alignment of their stakeholders and adjust their plan on a regular basis.

For Revionics regional director for APAC Scott Gilles, applying analytics to data will make changes to a business. 

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