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Tuesday, 24 March 2015

On the horizon – Retail 2020

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates

Retail is changing, as an industry, as a business and even as a concept. The rapidly evolving dynamics of demographics, emerging markets and raw materials, disruptive technologies, changing lifestyles and consumer expectations are some of the key elements to bring about this change. As the renowned scholar is quoted above, these conditions cease to be a challenge if retailers actively participate in building new self-sustaining retail ecosystems that explore opportunities to convert people not sales.

“Leading retailers will be those that are the best conversationalists and are good at listening to their shoppers’ needs, along with communicating a secure and self-confident image to their consumers. They will need to re-act quickly, be where the shopper is and offer relevant messaging all in the timeframe that is important to the customer.” says Al Meyers, Director of Retail and Consumer Practice, PwC.

Citing a Jones Lang LaSalle report - Real developments will come through new ideas and a more sophisticated execution of those ideas. Consumers want emotion and they want realness; a poor imitation will fall flatter than a bad joke. They want local and global, they want ethical, they want smooth seamlessness, they want great design. They want more authenticity and they want more lively change.

Naresh Ahuja, Chairman & CEO, ETP Group , represented similar views at the 5th Annual Retail Congress Asia Pacific 2015. During the panel session, he elaborated on how customer experience and satisfaction, in the final mile of fulfilment, is one of the most critical factors for retailers.

Monday, 16 March 2015

New Age Retail – Business Culture and Engagement

The retail industry is one of the main drivers of employment around the world and a major contributor to the GDP increase of most Asian countries. The retail arena has been transformed through multiple market upheavals and strategic developments - from opening economies leading to true globalization in the industry to emerging markets rising as dominant competitors. Parallel to this, technological evolution created burgeoning business domains e.g. ecommerce, mobile applications, social media communication etc. establishing changing consumer preferences and expectations.

The industry has been historically the first avenue of employment for many new workers. The changing rules of retail combined with the upsurge of young, educated workforce in Asian countries has greatly propelled business growth and foreign investment. There is a need for stabilizing business culture and engagement which encourages the workforce to pursue opportunities in retail and form a stronger industry foundation.

“Asia has the potential to drive innovation in areas such as e-commerce and in developing new products. Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are home to some of the world’s leading electronics companies. And, China and India’s consumers are some of the world’s most active users of mobile technology and social media,” says Michael Cheng, PwC’s Retail and Consumer Leader for Asia Pacific and Hong Kong/China. “While shopping via social media platforms is still a new trend, it won’t be long before consumers jump on the s-commerce bandwagon.”

To understand and harness the dynamics of new-age retail, leading retailers and industry experts from across the world will be congregating at the 5th Annual Retail Congress Asia Pacific 2015, Singapore. As Key Partner to the event, ETP will be leading discussions on Asian retail and its emerging markets.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Shopping today is a Highly Social Activity

Leveraging social media to enhance customer engagement

- Rudi Steffens

I am writing this as a father, husband and retail industry professional. Today, people are connected through several different mediums and channels and businesses are no different. The lines between personal and business connections are blurred and sometimes even non-existent.

Social media is the new super power of buying and selling. If I want to know about a product, I go online and in most cases use the social media portals. I don’t just want to know what my friends think about a product, I want to know what the world thinks! The more information I can get my hands on, the more informed choice I can make. I want to walk into a store, pay for my product and walk out. I can do all of this today because of social media.
The top 500 online merchants –

  • boosted their collective number of Facebook Likes 33% in 2014 to 915.7 million
  • grew their Twitter followings 26% to 88.6 million
  • increased their Pinterestfollowers 16% to 34.7 million
  • 78% more video views on YouTube for a total of 3.89 billion

  • Mobile technologies enable retailers to offer in-store discounts to shoppers who are checking prices online while at the store. Customers expect stores to have apps that help with aisle navigation, product location within the store and quick product pick-up. Video chats on smartphones in brick-and-mortar stores enable shoppers to have a live chat with product experts and not have to wait for a shop assistant to become available. Free in-store Wi-Fi encourages this updated shopping experience. The ongoing convergence of the in-store and online shopping experiences continue to present both a challenge and an opportunity for retailers. When it comes to embracing social selling, those with the right technologies in place to meet and even exceed the customers’ growing expectations are sure to be rewarded for their efforts.

    The question is, what can the retailer do to make me come to them and purchase a product?

    They could make my choice easy. I want to be proactively informed about new products which are linked to e-commerce and m-commerce channels. These mediums need to be user-friendly and should have my profile saved with the option to secure and save my payment options for quick checkouts. Remember my kids’ birthdays and remind me about Valentine’s Day. Know what I bought last time and recommend something new, based on my buying history and feedback. If I feel the offerings are curated as per my taste and desires, I am sure to come back for more.

    Lastly, service with a smile and with value-driven choice. 

    This article has been written by:

    Rudi’s vast business experience has helped retail business owners and executives in identifying the present and future challenges while growing their business and in productively supporting their desire to improve retail management processes and systems for optimal profitability.