A total of 304 participants attended the Asia Retail Leaders Conference 2021 staged by the Retail Centre of Excellence at Singapore Management University on 17 November in Singapore.
|SMU RCoE ARLC 2021 Speaker Panelist Session|
The full day hybrid conference revolved around the current developments and challenges faced by the retail industry such as prolonged and rising disruptions to businesses from the pandemic, changing consumer behaviour and up-and-coming technological innovations. 10 industry experts from the retail sphere and academic shed light on the critical relationship between digital transformation, trends, insights and topical issues such as sustainability, in empowering retailers and attendees with the required knowledge to emerge from and thrive in the post-pandemic environment.
Technology that is aiding retailers to develop cost-effective omnichannel touchpoints with their customers has emerged as a critical factor to succeed in the rapidly evolving futuristic retail ecosystem. With the changed consumer’s shopping behaviour as a result of the pandemic, progressive technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have significantly altered the way brands engage with and sell to consumers.
“The shift to digital is here to stay and retailers should treat social channels like flagship stores. The role of store and online have blurred, which means retailers should bring the store experience online and the convenience of digital to stores,” said Via Abano, Product Marketing Manager, CPG and Retail, Facebook APAC. She added, “The shop and fitting room has moved to the living room and more consumers want runway presentations, messaging, and even virtual appointments with sales associates, all in the comfort of their living room.”
The pandemic has also brought on further challenges to retailers, such as disruptions to the supply chain, leading brands to rejig their production and fulfilment operations in order to meet burgeoning demands.
“We are seeing many brands having a higher degree of flexibility, which allows production in much smaller batches, while ensuring a higher level of proximity between the supply chain and the local market, highlighted Dr Shantanu H. Bhattacharya, Professor of Operations Management, Deputy Dean of Programmes, Lee Kong Chian School of Business, Singapore Management University. He added how “it’s made planning and scheduling of inventory more dynamic when compared to static supply chain policies in the past. Usage of text analytics and social media has converged with trending keywords and products linked to those keywords, identified and mapped in real time”.
Beyond using social channels for advertisements, brands and retailers have expanded their touch points to sell directly to consumers and engage with them to build trust and loyalty, with these two qualities increasingly growing in importance for retailers to thrive.
“Digital commerce has rapidly accelerated and will continue to evolve and expand beyond what we can imagine as consumers continue to have a higher baseline expectation” said Peng Chun Hsien, Vice President, Merchant Sales & Acquiring, Asia Pacific, Visa Worldwide, “Businesses that go the extra mile by providing a delightful fulfilment experience, as well as a comprehensive or loyalty programme will deliver something that customers all look for in the long run.”
Consumers have become more aware of retailers’ impact on sustainability and increasingly, factor in a brand’s values when making their purchasing decision. It was also a discussion point that Nejla Matam-Finn, Co-founder of THE FIFTH COLLECTION weighed in on, “The adoption of the second-hand economy has the potential of becoming bigger than fast fashion, as more people are going to be transacting higher values in second-hand clothing.” She further highlighted that “Sustainability is not a choice anymore. It is going to happen when the resale industry surfaces in the fast fashion industry”.
Closing out the conference was the finals of the Inter-Varsity Retail Challenge which saw over 40 submissions from Singapore’s local universities. The top three teams presented their case study and proposals to the judges, tackling issues facing retail brands – Pomelo, Uniqlo and Decathlon. The winning student group SYD, and two shortlisted teams walked away with cash prizes and most importantly, a valuable learning experience of the retail industry in Asia.
About Asia Retail Leaders Conference 2021
Asia Retail Leaders Conference explores the possibilities and opportunities in combining digital and physical engagement creatively to deliver a sense of fun and excitement every time a consumer shops online or in-store. New digital trends and innovations have come into play in a big way, pivoting us towards a brighter post-pandemic era in retailing. This year’s theme ‘Pivot or Perish’ looks into digitalisation and its adoption to meet changing shopper habits which were further accelerated by the pandemic to help retailers adapt their business and harness the power of technology to thrive in the new normal.
For more information, please visit Asia Retail Leaders Conference 2021 https://site.smu.edu.sg/asia-retail-leaders-conference-2021#arlc2021
About SMU Retail Centre of Excellence
The Retail Centre of Excellence was officially launched by Ms Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, and Ministry of Trade and Industry on 10 October 2017. Helmed by SMU Professor of Marketing Kapil R. Tuli, the centre is joined by a group of Founding Members comprising DFS Venture, DBS, Decathlon, Microsoft, Harvey Norman, IKEA, Popular Holdings, Tiffany & Co. and Visa. It is the first retail insight-sharing hub in Singapore focusing on generating and disseminating actionable knowledge for retailers in Singapore, Asia and beyond.
Based in the Lee Kong Chian School of Business of Singapore Management University and supported by the Economic Development Board and Enterprise Singapore it is the first retail insight-sharing hub in Singapore focusing on generating and disseminating actionable knowledge for retailers in Singapore, Asia and beyond. The centre aims to empower retailers with the know-how through research and insights, and build an ecosystem comprising retailers, retail experts, knowledge & industry partners, SMU faculty and student talent.
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