Retail Asia (June 2023)

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Issue No. 03 RETAIL ASIA THE MOST OUTSTANDING RETAIL COMPANIES AND INNOVATIONS LAUDED IN THE RETAIL ASIA AWARDS 2022 AWARDS ISSUE Display to June 30, 2023 | retailasia.com 3 themes that will reshape the future of APAC retail Revamping customer experience by going ‘phygital’ How the lockdown changed consumer behaviour The Breeze is the safest mall in the new normal Conversational commerce is the new retail currency

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Retail Asia is the industry magazine serving Asia’s dynamic retail landscape. Each issue carries a balanced mix of articles that appeal to the C-level executives of large retail companies in Asia. Now a part of the award-winning Charlton Media Group, the brand attracts a combined print and online of audience of more than 88,000.

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FROM THE EDITOR

The next few years for retail will be about the complementary meshing of digital and nondigital options as consumers demand more seamlessness on all retail channels. Businesses are increasingly employing data science and AI to enhance customer experience. The adoption of conversational commerce also rose in popularity as brands expanded their presence online through social media.

One such business is Indonesia-based telecom device retailer Erajaya, which combined online and offline shopping experiences by implementing an omnichannel strategy in its four business verticals. Joy Wahjudi, CEO of Erajaya, shares the company's vertical expansion strategies on page 10. Meanwhile, Singapore-based retailer Love, Bonito is building automation and decision modelling to drive growth and efficiency across the organisation. Read our interview with CEO Dione Song, about the brand's strategy that develops actionable insights into fashion on page 12.

Speakers at the Retail Asia Summit 2022 discussed their forecasts for the industry in the next two to five years and the themes that will reshape the future of retail in the Asia-Pacific. Read the full event coverage on page 20.

In recent years, retailers’ digital transformation journeys have been one of the most recognisable breakthroughs that disrupted how business is done. In recognition of the organisations that go beyond their capabilities in delivering quality experience to its customers, we are honoured to present the winners at the Retail Asia Awards 2022. See the full list of outstanding retailers on page 24.

Read on and enjoy!

Retail Asia is a proud media partner and host of the following events and expos:

RETAIL ASIA 1
Tim Charlton
PRINT PRODUCTION EDITOR COPY EDITOR
2 RETAIL SINGAPOREASIABUSINESS REVIEW | MARCH 2018 CONTENTS For the latest business news from Singapore visit the website www.retailasia.com FIRST SPACE WATCH CONCEPT WATCH STORE WATCH RETAIL WATCH 24 EVENT COVERAGE OUTSTANDING RETAILERS AND RETAIL INITIATIVES RECOGNISED AT THE RETAIL ASIA AWARDS 2022 EVENT OPINION 20 Three themes that will reshape the future of retail in Asia Pacific 22 How the lockdown transformed consumer behaviour in the digital era 46 The unspoken expectation from a Singapore consumer with a full shopping cart this holiday season 48 How can Hong Kong organisations leverage on the benefits of AI for improved customer experience ANALYSIS ONE CHAT AWAY: CONVERSATIONAL COMMERCE LEVELS THE PLAYING FIELD FOR BRANDS ONLINE 19 06 SEA's digital economy to reach $200b GMV sooner than expected 07 SEA consumers see online shopping as “integral” part of life 08 How brands can craft the right ‘Shoppertainment’ 16 ShopBack converts an old school building into a university-like workplace 12 Love, Bonito uses data to develop actionable insights in fashion 14 Retail stores can revamp customer experience by going ‘phygital’ 10 A look into Erajaya’s four business vertical expansion 18 SPACE WATCH THIS GREEN OPEN CONCEPT MAKES THE BREEZE THE SAFEST MALL IN THE NEW NORMAL Published Biannually by Charlton Media Group SG: 101 Cecil St. #17-09 Tong Eng Building Singapore 069533 HK: Room 1006, 10th Floor 299 QRC, 287-299 Queen's Road Central, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong +852 3972 7166

Daily news from Asia

STORES

Retail ‘war’ starts even before shoppers enter the store: Alfamart

In marketing jargon, the moment of truth or MOT is considered the time when the shopper finally gives an impression after interacting with a brand, product, or service. This theory, however, is considered less relevant in the midst of rapid digital developments.

Over the span of nearly three decades, the Figaro Coffee Group (FCG) has grown its business from serving coffee to pizza delivery, through Angel's Pizza, that would propel the company's growth and drive it into going public today.

Online shopping has become a topof-mind option amongst consumers, but this did not just happen overnight. Lazada Singapore, now in its 10th anniversary, said the company had to build trust from scratch amongst buyers who were initially skeptical of online shopping.

Quick commerce, or item delivery as fast as 10 minutes, is on the rise but one e-commerce platform is taking a different approach to the trend. Daraz Group Founder and CEO Bjarke Mikkelsen vowed that Daraz will strike a balance between product assortment and delivery speed.

Fresh out of university in 2018, Damon Lye, along with his friends, Joshua Chan and Tan Jun Kiat, explored various business ideas. But the three friends only ventured into business together when they identified the need for a standing desk, and could not get one that was easily accessible.

Fragrances now wear the ‘lipstick effect’

From long-lasting lipsticks, celebrity beauty brands, like Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty, have pierced through the perfume industry. As it seems, this came as shoppers switched to spritzing fragrances as quick luxury fixes to feel happier during downturns, which was once fulfilled by painting the lips.

News from retailasia.com
Meeting halfway: Daraz juggles assortment and delivery speed Figaro Coffee Group finds niche in pizza delivery Comfortable office furniture doesn’t have to cost ‘silly money’: ErgoTune Lazada builds an e-commerce giant from a ‘blank slate’
E-COMMERCE
STORES STORES MOST E-COMMERCE FASHION READ

PHARMACITY: 11 YEARS PROTECTING THE HEALTH

protect the health and well-being of all families in the country. An example of this is the recent launch of First Aid Next Door, a joint initiative with the Vietnam Red Cross and the URGO Foundation. This unique program aims to facilitate treatment for the Vietnamese people by training pharmacists in rst aid for minor injuries. As a result, patients do not need to consult a doctor or go to the hospital, saving them time and money and freeing up doctors and hospital staff to attend to more serious incidents. Initiatives such as this partnership underscore Pharmacity’s ongoing commitment to local communities across Vietnam.

A CLEAR PURPOSE

Pharmacity has had a clear purpose ever since the rst store opened back in 2011: to protect the health and well-being of all families in Vietnam.

The last few years under the global pandemic have been challenging for everyone, but COVID-19 struck Vietnam particularly hard. Over this time, Pharmacity – Vietnam’s rst and largest modern retail pharmacy chain – not only responded creatively to the situation but also reaffirmed its mission to protect the health and well-being of all families in Vietnam.

In 2022, Pharmacity’s 11th anniversary, the company achieved a series of milestones and successes. Just a few months ago, the rm opened its 1,000th store. It also won numerous industry awards, including Retail Asia’s Drugstore of the Year and Health and Beauty Retailer of the Year for Vietnam, announced in July. And most recently of all, the company signed up the 10 millionth member to its loyalty program. In addition to these homegrown achievements, Pharmacity signed strategic partnerships with large global rms, including Novartis, DHG Pharma, Boehringer Ingelheim Vietnam and Merck Vietnam.

ON

THE FRONT LINE FOR VIETNAM

Pharmacity has always had a clear focus on serving its customers and the wider community.

The most signi cant recent challenge for the community has of course been the battle against Covid-19. When Vietnam was under a strict lockdown, Pharmacity’s people were on the front line. With other pharmacies closing, the company kept its stores open, becoming the rst port of call for local communities.

Pharmacity’s teams united to ensure the Vietnamese people could access critical medicines and protection products. This included extending its product offering to include fresh fruits and vegetables at the request of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Industry and Trade. The company also drove a price stabilisation policy to ensure communities could continue to afford to buy fresh groceries and partnered with the army to help deliver essential medicines.

BUILDING THE FUTURE OF HEALTHCARE IN VIETNAM

Training the best talent to help build the future of healthcare in Vietnam has always been a priority for Pharmacity. As such, it has become the largest employer of pharmacists in the country, with over 5,600 pharmacists nationwide and has been named by a leading market research rm as the most trusted retail pharmacy brand, with the highest customer satisfaction score of any retail pharmacy chain in the country.

Pharmacity’s pharmacists have become an important pillar of the healthcare ecosystem in Vietnam and are working every day to

Pharmacity’s commitment to its customers is built on three pillars of Convenience, as emphasized in its tagline. Convenient Accessibility means that customers have easy access to more Pharmacity stores with longer opening hours than any other pharmacy chain in Vietnam. Pharmacity also offers customers a seamless omni-channel experience with deliveries nationwide.

Convenient Availability offers customers what they want, when they want it, where they want it. This translates into Pharmacity offering the widest choice of medicines and most innovative products in nine categories, more than any other pharmacy chain in the country. Convenient Affordability promises a price matching guarantee, affordably priced generic and Pharmacity branded products, and a popular Loyalty Program that boasts almost 10 million members.

Our purpose to protect the health and wellbeing of all families in Vietnam.

Phamacity’s commitment to its customers is built on three pillars of Convenience, as emphasized in its tagline: Convenient Accessibility; Convenient Availability, and Convenient Affordability.

RETAIL ASIA 5
OF THE YEAR VIETNAM
OF THE YEAR VIETNAM
DRUGSTORE
HEALTH & BEAUTY RETAILER
Pharmacity provides a products range with more than 8300 skus with affordable prices to customer. Customers shop at Pharmacity drugstore.

SEA's digital economy to reach $200b GMV sooner than expected

Southeast Asia’s digital economy is expected to reach $200b gross merchandise value (GMV) in 2022, three years earlier than the initial 2025 forecasts, a report found.

In its 2022 e-Conomy SEA report, Google, Temas,ek and Bain & Company projected Southeast Asia is already approaching the $200b milestone sooner than it had projected in its e-Conomy SEA 2016 report.

“The acceleration of the digital economy during the pandemic has unlocked significant value for industry sectors, but it is critical to recognize that the new macro turbulences ahead will see different growth archetypes emerging across verticals,” Florian Hoppe, Partner and Head of Digital Practice in Asia-Pacific, Bain & Company, said.

“We are seeing market leaders take a longer-term recovery strategy and invest in capabilities to target markets and consumer segments with higher value

generation potential.”

The report noted that of the current 460 million internet users in the region, 100 million users have come online in the past three years.

This comes as high adoption of e-commerce was also seen amongst urban and suburban consumers, particularly in groceries, travel, and music-on-demand.

Between 2022 and 2025, the region is projected to see a compound annual growth rate of 20%, bringing the total GMV up to $300b. Of this, e-commerce is expected to account for $211b, followed by travel ($44b), food and transport ($39b), and online media ($36b).

To achieve this growth, retailers in the region will need to maintain economic health against headwinds by attempting to

strike a balance between price increases, cost optimisation measures, and raising the cost of capital.

Digital adoption of urban and suburban users

Despite the widespread adoption of e-commerce, there is still a wide gap between urban and suburban in terms of usage, particularly in grocery shopping.

According to the report, only less than 5% of suburban users buy groceries online. This is much lower than the 37%-58% monthly active urban users. Amongst urban users that shop for groceries online, 58% said they were affluent users, 49% were young digital natives, another 49% were metro mainstream, whilst 37% were ‘on a budget’ users.

“While all segments have adopted e-commerce, usage frequency is much higher among affluent users than ‘on a budget’ and suburban users,” the report read in part.

“Young digital natives are spending the most on groceries—75% more than the median—indicating significant headroom for growth even as the sector matures.”

Moreover, the e-Conomy SEA report noted that whilst digital services led to more convenience in food delivery, and transport, it is still “not for everyone.” A wide gap was also observed between the usage of urban and suburban users.

Only 10% of suburban users relied on digital services in food delivery and transport. This is against 70% affluent users, 58% young digital natives, 58% metro mainstream, 43% ‘on a budget users’ that ordered food online; and 50% affluent users, 43% young digital natives, 37% metro mainstream, and ‘on a budget’ users that used digital services for transport.

“Affluent users are the largest segment among transport and food delivery users, and spend nearly twice more than the median,” the report noted.

“Food delivery usage correlates with income levels, with young digital natives and metro mainstream consumers equally dependent on the ease and convenience it provides, whilst metro mainstream consumers are less likely to use transport services as they are more likely to own a family car.”

6 RETAIL ASIA FIRST
The region was initially projected to achieve this growth in 2025
While all segments have adopted e-commerce, usage frequency is much higher among affluent users than ‘on a budget’ and suburban users
SOUTHEAST ASIA

SEA consumers see online shopping as “integral” part of life

55% of consumers from Singapore, 48% from Thailand, and 49% from the Philippines preferring items to be delivered straight to them.

Reviews and rating are also a key factor to a positive shopping experience especially for Singaporean (61%) and Thai (66%) consumers, it said.

Buying authentic products is also a top reason for online shopping in Singapore (54%) and Vietnam (53%), whilst the variety of available payment options are important for Indonesia (54%). Secure payment options, meanwhile, are important for Singapore (53%) and Malaysia (45%).

The Lazada report also showed that consumers in the region are actively choosing

FIRST
Consumers are actively choosing items to purchase through digital channels SOUTHEAST ASIA

CONSUMERS ARE WILLING TO

More than 70% of consumers said they are willing to pay higher for products that have a positive impact on the environment or health, Bain & Company reported.

Shoppers in Asia-Pacific led with 90% of consumers who are willing to pay more, followed by European consumers (74%), and American consumers (71%).

Despite this, Bain & Company found that most consumers are not changing their shopping behaviors.

“Inflation is of course making consumers more sensitive to price – but at the same time it’s also encouraging them to revisit deeply engrained consumption habits,” Luciana Batista, a Partner in Bain’s Retail, Consumer Products and Sustainability practices, said.

“This offers a rare opportunity for retailers to disrupt the status quo and encourage circular models that see consumers returning products or reusing packaging for a discount in the future. Combined with greater choice and clear communication at the point of sale, inflation can be a catalyst for more sustainable behaviour.”

Moreover, the report found that the higher inflation is also worsening the funding gaps challenge retailers face in investing in sustainability.

“A high-risk environment may reduce investment into sustainability in the short term but there is much retailers can do to decarbonise without making significant financial investments,” Luciana also said.

“Energy and waste saving measures can help to reduce costs and exposure to risk in the short term, while more comprehensive commitments are developed.”

How brands can craft the right ‘Shoppertainment’

Retailers need to adopt a video-first approach focusing on education and integrating storytelling and even comedy in order to tap the US$1t "shoppertainment" and capture more consumers, according to a report by Boston Consulting Group and social media platform TikTok.

Brands should tell stories and educate. This could be accomplished by telling a story about a certain brand or product and piquing their interest in a way to educate them and integrating comedy to offer entertainment and engagement.

They should also adopt a “videofirst approach” characterised by short content to retain consumers’ attention, and tap influencers that will help amplify your message.

The report also stated the brands should not force decision-making and that their contents should only contain interests and hobbies the consumers can relate to.

“Target good feelings and nostalgic recollections that rekindle excitement, whilst building stories around uplifting and engaging themes,” the report read.

Authenticity in content that will inspire others is also vital for brands to have along with credible reviews and open and engaging community conversations. Brands should also recommend trends by including insights from community experts and enable extended conversations between friends and users, and “build them into a strong and trusted culture and following.”

They should also provide clear information about a product that can be accessed easily and properly communicated, and they should also ensure that there is a “clear and intuitive path to purchase.”

Shoppertainment could open $1t opportunity for APAC brands Brands in the Asia Pacific region can gain $1t in market value by 2025 due to the rise of “Shoppertainment,” according to a report by Boston Consulting Group and social media platform TikTok.

According to the report, Shoppertainment, a content-driven commerce that targets to entertain and educate first whilst integrating content and community, is expected to grow annually by 63%, across markets included in the report.

Australia, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam were expected to drive significant value opportunities in shoppertainment.

Sam Singh, Vice President of Global Business Solutions for APAC at Tiktok, said this form of e-commerce is another avenue for businesses to tap as consumer habits continue evolving and “people are looking to be delighted online.”

“This presents an opportunity for businesses to embrace Shoppertainment: a content-first approach where brands educate and entertain audiences. Shoppertainment combines content and culture and commerce in a seamless way, allowing brands to engage with audiences throughout the purchasing journey without overtly selling,” Singh said.

“This allows brands to meet both functional and emotional needs, thereby building stronger and longer relationships,” he added.

8 RETAIL ASIA FIRST
‘Shoppertainment’ should tell a story and be authentic ASIA PACIFIC
Target good feelings and nostalgic recollections that rekindle excitement
PAY MORE FOR 'GREEN'
ASIA PACIFIC
Sam Singh

A look into Erajaya’s four business vertical expansion

points.

will provide complete information and help them to decide on which product to choose.

When telecommunication device retailer, PT Erajaya Swasembada Tbk., introduced its four new business lines in 2021, the company wanted to strengthen its presence amongst two different types of consumers—the one that checks reviews online via YouTube and other social media platforms; and the other who wants to see and touch the item physically. Therefore, Erajaya combined online and offline shopping experiences by implementing an omnichannel strategy in its four business verticals.

The first business vertical is called Erajaya Digital. This easily connects its consumers’ lifestyle needs with telecommunication devices. Next is Erajaya Active Lifestyle, which focuses on offering products to complement the active lifestyle of users from Urban Republic, ASICS, and JD Sports. This is followed by Erajaya Beauty & Wellness, composed of Apotek Wellings and The Face Shop outlets, to cater to the health and beauty markets. Finally, Erajaya Food &

Nourishment offers food through the Paris Baguette brand and Grand Lucky supermarket.

“We have realised that we needed to expand our retail footprint to make it more accessible and implement several steps to ensure that customers get the best experience whilst shopping,” said Joy Wahjudi, CEO of Erajaya Digital to Retail Asia

Omnichannel initiative

“As of December 2021, there are more than 1,300 Erajaya outlets in total along with 93 distribution points and we are very serious about expanding our retail footprint,” said Joy.

In the first semester of 2022, Erajaya opened 158 new outlets and spent a capital expenditure of US$14.08m (IDR 224b).

Throughout 2022, we plan to increase the number to 400-500 points from various managed brands. Erajaya wanted its consumers to be comfortable in reaching its outlets. To do this, it needed the support of customer service frontliners who

Erajaya developed the "Click n Pickup" programme, which allows a customer to make transactions on the website, and he can choose to pick up his goods directly at an agreedupon outlet. There is also Mobile Selling where buyers can transact from the WhatsApp service. The Home Delivery Service ensures that the product arrives at the customer's hands within hours because it is delivered from the nearest outlet.

For its expansion, Erajaya introduced the Erafone Cloud Retail Partner programme that allows local investors to be involved in expansion in various regions. This is a partnership cooperation programme, not a franchise, which offers full support from design, official and guaranteed product inventory, national distribution network, trained salespeople, marketing programs and other support to ensure this collaboration achieves maximum results.

Eraspace as a lifestyle destination Erajaya also developed its online channels such as the Eraspace.com e-commerce page and official stores on various e-commerce platforms in Indonesia. Eraspace is an e-commerce service that integrates thousands of offline retailers from Erajaya Group such as Erafone, iBox, Urban Republic, The Face Shop, and IT.

The first advantage of Eraspace is the complete product catalogue of brands managed by Erajaya that can be accessed in one place, as well as regular promotions, one of which is Eraversary which was held to commemorate the 26th anniversary of Erajaya.

Eraspace is a way for consumers to experience the omnichannel experience. Although Eraspace has only been operating since 2019, the average monthly visitor has reached 5 million visitors.

“We hope that Eraspace can become the main destination for people to shop online for electronic products, gadgets, and lifestyles. Eraspace's development is certainly in line with our retail expansion, in the omnichannel concept," concluded Joy.

10 RETAIL ASIA
CONCEPT WATCH
For its expansion, Erajay introduced the Erafone Cloud Retail Partner programme (Photo from Erajaya.com)
It implements its growth strategy in its 1,300 outlets and 93 distribution
We hope that Eraspace can become the main destination for people to shop online
INDONESIA Joy Wahjudi

Love, Bonito uses data to develop actionable insights in fashion

The brand’s data strategy led to an 8% increase in its second purchase rate.

they should offer and how and when they should be released.

The company’s in-house design trackers, meanwhile, work with the designers to identify winning designs and gain insights from under-performers. “In the long run, we turn customer insights into actionable plans that drive the design process,” Leong said, adding that customer lifetime value over customer acquisition cost ratio increased seven times.

Trends and challenges

In the past two years, Love, Bonito has been accurately forecasting the demands of its customers, with a monthly mean average percentage error of less than 10%. Because of this accuracy, the brand is able to prevent overproducing items and cut out underperforming products. This was all thanks to its established data team and infrastructure.

Love, Bonito’s in-house data team and infrastructure were established in 2019. It initially aimed to make analytics scalable and build a data culture within the company.

Now, its data team focuses on translating actionable insights from data, building automation and decision modelling to drive growth and efficiency across the organisation.

“This allows us to identify and recreate winning designs that customers love and at the same time, improve other designs based on customers’ likes and preferences. There are also plans to use data science and AI to enhance customer experience based on customers’

Data is knit into every part of our business

psychographics and shopping habits online and in-store,” CEO Dione Song told Retail Asia.

“It’s critical because it helps us make better decisions. Data is knit into every part of our business from understanding customer preferences and changing trends to driving efficiency in our inventory decisions and identifying new opportunities for our business,” Vice President of Data and Growth, Jane Leong added.

Data strategy

Love, Bonito uses both first-party data which include transaction, behavioural, and survey data collected from their platforms, and third-party data or industry and competitor research. It keeps track of over 100 product attributes per SKU and gathers information and feedback from customers.

The data team looks at various information which includes product attributes of popular designs, ways to maximise stock levels at each store and decisions to select what products

To date, Love, Bonito has 16 physical stores in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Indonesia and also ships to 20 countries worldwide. Even if the company started as an e-commerce business in 2010, it was still not spared from the supply disruption caused by the pandemic. Song, however, said that this presented an opportunity for Love, Bonito to recalibrate their omnichannel efforts to emphasise online versus in-store activations due to uncertainties in movement.

“Now, we’ve pivoted to designing home and comfort wear, such as our Staples (officially named The Staples) and Loungewear lines. We also started to incorporate workwear into our assortment a few months ago as safety measures have eased and we see more customers adapting to clothes needed for the hybrid work-home environment,” Song said.

Song said that whilst it is important to have channels and touchpoints needed to reach customers, it is also vital to be as “channel-agnostic, customer-centric, and hyperthoughtful as possible to go to where shoppers are,” noting that customers expect convenience and want connections and a sense of community. It is also important for brands to have an “authentic and clear purpose, and value system” as customers have become more discerning, especially the millennials and Gen Zs.

12 RETAIL ASIA STORE WATCH
Love, Bonito turns customer insights into actionable plans that drive the design process (313 Love, Bonito store reopening. Photo courtesy of Love, Bonito) Dione Song Jane Leong

Retail stores can revamp customer experience by going ‘phygital’

Consumers are increasingly demanding more exciting in-store experience.

stores, which are not open to customers but are used as store inventory and for brands to send out orders.

Online grocery store, HappyFresh, increased its dark stores in Singapore to allow an efficient shopping experience, bringing high-quality products to customers.

Since its launch, the online grocery’s users increased by 300%, month-on-month, to address growing demand.

BNPL schemes

The Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) schemes also received popularity in Singapore from 2020 to 2021 due to convenience and prudent economic climate, Quan Yao Peh, a Senior Research Analyst at Euromonitor International, said.

Based on Euromonitor’s 2021 data, credit cards account for 61% of personal transactions.

Consumers are more demanding now that they are back to in-person shopping. Retailers needed to revive their physical stores to make it more exciting for the consumers, because if they cannot get that, consumers would rather buy online, Singapore Retail Report study said.

According to Varun Sharma, Vice President of the unified CX platform, Emplifi, in the Asia Pacific and Japan, one way for retailers to create this excitement is to be “phygital.” They need to mix physical and digital strategies for a unified experience for consumers using digital datadriven customer insights and technologies.

To gather and use data analysis and insights, Sharma suggested utilising video-powered retail that involves video software that uses data to connect callers to an in-store expert to handle their queries.

“Video technology helps humanise digital communication between consumers and brands via their website—leveraging data insights such as how, when, and why customers are interacting,” he explained.

For example, Marks & Spencer has a “call the expert” video button, enabling their experts to pair with customers for a stronger chance of a sale. This live video service accommodated 28,000 one-onone consultations of customers browsing furniture, menswear, and lingerie in the store.

“This helps brands understand the customer journey better and provide a more personalised experience. With customer data, retailers can give shoppers exactly what they are looking for, boosting their sales potential, and cutting costs, too,” Sharma explained.

Dark stores

Another strategy retailers are using is called the dark stores. Despite the name, it can illuminate brick-and-mortar stores’ creativity. Dark stores are like distribution hubs of physical stores, said Sharma. These physical stores turned into dark

technology helps humanise digital communication between consumers and brand

“BNPL has been positioned as increasing the immediate affordability of goods and services, whilst allowing customers greater repayment flexibility compared to one-off spending,” Quan Yao said in an interview with Retail Asia

To avoid turning BNPL to buy now, don’t pay later, businesses should consider the profile of their consumers.

“A millennial and Generation Z, someone who has just started working, is perhaps still in university and may not have that much disposable income at this point. The retailer needs to consider whether or not the BNPL implementation will allow them to better reach and capture the wallets of their target consumer,” said Quan Yao.

An example of a brand adopting BNPL is clothing brand, Pomelo’s, partnership with Atome, a BNPL mobile app, to allow customers to pay one-third of the total bill first. After their check out of items, their orders will be shipped and customers will get the items and pay other payments later with zero interest, 30 days apart.

Pomelo is currently operating three physical stores in Singapore which are in Nex, Jem, and 313@Somerset.

Cashier-less checkouts, AR zones

Smart technology can also create seamless experiences for customers when they visit physical stores such as through cashier-less checkouts, voice-activated instore robotic assistants, dynamic merchandising tools, and shelf-monitoring solutions, explained Guillaume Sachet, Partner of Advisory Practice at KPMG, a professional services firm.

He added that these technologies can combat consumers’ frustrations such as long queues, insufficient stock of popular products, and navigating physical stores.

A brand that does this is Singapore’s Pick&GO, an AI convenience store, which resorted to AI technology to help customers walk and complete their payments in a matter of seconds.

14 RETAIL ASIA RETAIL
WATCH
To gather and use data analysis and insights, retailers should utilise video-powered retail Video Varun Sharma Quan Yao Peh Guillaume Sachet SINGAPORE

ShopBack converts an old school building into a university-like workplace

It is the company’s way of promoting continuous learning amongst its employees.

When ShopBack employees go to their newly renovated headquarters fittingly called “Campus” in Pasir Panjang, they go back in time and are treated to school-like spaces where they can hang out and collaborate with each other.

ShopBack employees can instantly get the back-to-school feeling when they enter the office’s assembly hall, which ShopBack’s Country General Manager Fern Nannaphat compares to a university auditorium.

According to Nannaphat, the assembly hall is a huge open space with multiple staircases where people can sit and hang out either during or after working hours. The hall also has a massive screen in the front used during town hall meetings and even has ping pong tables.

“A lot of ideas are coming up around the ping pong table area, at least for my team,” said Nannaphat, adding that it’s one of her favourite areas in the new office.

Apart from the assembly hall, other features of the

headquarters that make the space campus-like is its library, which houses books donated by employees, its meeting rooms equipped with whiteboards, and Y-shaped cluster seating arrangements.

“The meeting rooms, ping pong tables, and even the couches resonated with me going back to school,” Nannaphat added.

The property’s history

Nannaphat said the property, which has been refurbished and transformed to become ShopBack’s regional hub, was actually an old school building managed by the Singapore Land Authority.

Turning the old school building into another place of learning, was ShopBack’s way of paying homage to the property’s history.

“This deliberate choice of location underscores the progressive enterprise’s emphasis on continuous learning at Campus,” the company said.

16 RETAIL ASIA
SPACE WATCH
Fern Nannaphat ShopBack’s newly renovated headquarters fittingly called “Campus” in Pasir Panjang The property was an old school building managed by the Singapore Land Authority ShopBack’s Campus houses over 220 employees SINGAPORE

This green open concept makes The Breeze the safest

mall in the new normal

Because of its architecture, its occupancy rate quickly returned to 80% when restrictions were eased.

small island stands to large shops.

There is also Kumulo, a creative compound area in an open space consisting of 25 microsites with unique architectural designs in an area of approximately 4,000 square meters that sells a variety of curated local products. On Sundays or holidays, Kumulo often holds Sunday Market events with the concept of a pop-up store.

Visitors can also sit in the atrium area of The Breeze. They do not have to worry about being exposed to heat or rain because there is a large canopy that protects visitors from the weather. Visitors who bring children can also let their children move freely, feed the fish in the pond inside the mall, and bring their pets.

Open retail concept

The Breeze does not provide an elevator, nor does it have a multifloor building like a mall in general, but a spacious room where visitors can move freely, enjoy the air freely and briefly enjoy outdoor shopping.

When the Indonesia government imposed strict restrictions in the past two years, shopping malls were the first to suffer, with mall goers afraid to be inside enclosed spaces. Because of this, the average mall visit rate fell by 50% in 2020, and 60% in 2021. But for Sinar Mas Land’s The Breeze, recovering from this is a minor issue.With its Mall Without Walls concept, The Breeze's visitor occupancy rate quickly returned to 80% when the government began to ease the restrictions and let the shopping mall open.

“With the open space concept offered by The Breeze, visitor traffic returns much faster than indoor malls in general,” said Yani C. Dewi as Mall Division Head of Sinar Mas Land in an exclusive interview with Retail Asia. “This is kind of a blessing in disguise because when the pandemic hits, people are looking for open spaces for activities.”

The Breeze is located in the BSD

We see malls not only as a full concept for families but more for lifestyle and entertainment

Green Office Park area, Tangerang Regency. The total area of BSD Green Office Park is 25 hectares, of which 13.5 hectares is currently occupied by The Breeze.

The Breeze uses the concept of 'Mall without Walls' where visitors can eat food whilst enjoying direct views of trees, green plants, artificial lakes and the Cisadane river. “We could say The Breeze layout consists of 70% green open space, 20% retail F&B, and 10% entertainment including a bowling alley, cinemas and gyms,” said Yani.

Sneak peek into The Breeze When visitors come, they can enter from anywhere because The Breeze has an open concept without any partitions and walls. Visitors can go directly to the tenant they are aiming for. Currently there are 90 tenants consisting of F&B, Entertainment & Lifestyle, Sports and Supermarket tenants. The tenants occupy stand-alone buildings with sizes varying from

“The beginning of the concept that we created at The Breeze came from the management's desire to make something different. We see malls not only as a full concept for families but more for lifestyle and entertainment. When we began to build The Breeze, all the existing malls were using an indoor concept, but we wanted to make it an open space so that we took benchmarks from abroad such as The Groove shopping centre in LA, and Clarke Quay in Singapore,” Yani explained.

The Breeze started operating in 2013 and was designed by JERDE, an architect from the US who has a portfolio of building open retail concepts. As Yani emphasised earlier, green space is an important element because most of The Breeze's space is green space with various trees and plants. Various plants at The Breeze receive periodic maintenance. Those that can't be saved will be replaced with mature trees.

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The Breeze uses the concept of 'Mall without Walls' Yani C Dewi INDONESIA

One chat away: Conversational commerce levels the playing field for brands online

Leaving consumers with unanswered queries can result in $2m missed revenue per day.

Fiona Thia, Business Development Director at TMX, was looking for a ring online. She can only roughly estimate her ring size based on the chart posted on the store’s website. Already expecting her order to be hit-or-miss, she then received a message from the brand asking for a photo of her finger to help settle the size and assuring her that, if the item did not fit, she can have it exchanged with no additional payment. Thia also received a follow-up message to check on the item delivered.

In the end, Thia became one of the brand’s satisfied customers. This is conversational commerce at work.

“Conversational commerce focuses on messaging,” Thia told Retail Asia.

It is a strategy that benefits the brand itself because it enables businesses to control their own sales channel strategy and lower the rates of returns. Thia noted that processing returns are costly and they even have to figure out if the item returned could be shelved or just thrown away.

The adoption of conversational commerce rose in popularity as brands expanded their presence online through social media, such as Facebook and Instagram.

“It's really about capitalising on your own followers. That's the reason why we believe that social commerce

is quite an equal playing field for all brands of different sizes and different verticals,” Thia said.

Specific sectors, such as beauty brands, can adopt conversational commerce by relying on messaging applications to sell their products and have live chat advisors to answer queries from customers. Through messaging, customers can send their photos to the brands and have the retail associates on-screen recommend the type of products suitable for them.

For fashion brands, this can also be adopted as some customers could have ordered two sizes at a time, especially when they have no idea about their size, and just have one of them returned as soon as the customers get to fit the items.

The right channel

When opening stores online or in a new channel, Thia said that it is important to have a proper channel strategy, taking into consideration the target audience per channel. She noted that younger customers may be more present via social media, whilst slightly older or more loyal customers might be on the brand’s own marketplace or website.

Data from Sprout Social showed that Gen Z shoppers, or those aged 18 to 40, are the most enthusiastic

to make purchases via social media, particularly in Instagram, TikTok, and Whatsapp.

In Hongkong, one of the best channels to run conversational commerce would be WhatsApp, given that it’s the most used app in the market, AnyMind Group’s Deputy Head of E-Commerce Enablement for Japan, Mai Endo, told Retail Asia

Based on data from Statista, WhatsApp receives 89,600 monthly downloads, making it the most downloaded free app in the social media category in Hongkong in April 2022.

But for brands present on various platforms, Thia cautioned that they do not “cannibalise” each channel, citing as an example the need for their products to be sold at the same price regardless of the channel.

Botversation alone is a no-no One of the main purposes of having conversational commerce is to give online consumers the experience they would have in brick-and-mortar stores: having an assistant or staff to guide buyers through their purchase.

Endo, therefore, emphasised the need for both the human and artificial intelligence (AI) elements in conversational commerce.

Leaving consumers to chatbots only will lead to unresolved chats, which, in turn, can result in an average of $2m per day of missed revenue, according to a study by customer experience solutions company, Simplr.ai.

“Chatbots can just recommend a product, but not answer consumers who have doubts on whether they should buy this colour or that colour,” Endo said, adding that as part of their product offering, AnyChat, the company can also provide a customer support person who operates within regular working hours.

Since the platform has yet to have a 24/7 chat support, Endo said operators can instead segment concerns by “tagging,” so the next time a similar inquiry pops up the chatbot can answer on behalf.

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Younger customers may be more present via social media Conversational commerce focuses on messaging ASIA PACIFIC Mai Endo Fiona Thia

Three themes that will reshape the future of retail in Asia Pacific

Experts from Euromonitor International, Bain & Company, and more discussed the industry trends and forecasts at this year's RetailAsiaSummit.

invest in and innovate with digital technologies in various areas ranging from the assessment of product information in-stores to self-checkout features for a more enhanced and seamless customer shopping experience, according to Chan.

Retailers’ recent innovations Chan said the availability of digital wallets is amongst the features retailer could adopt. Cashless free checkout is also gaining traction as the preferred in-store shopping feature. These services avoid the hassle of checkout queues and making payments.

Retailers in the Asia Pacific should ensure that both their services online and offline are both easy to navigate and offer a unified experience to cater to consumers now, according to Euromonitor International.

Hianyang Chan, a Senior Consultant at Euromonitor International, identified eight themes that will reshape the future store namely: seamlessness, convenience, experiential, personalisation, sustainability, premiumisation, shareable, and community.

But for the APAC, the region that accounts for 40% share of the global retail industry, seamlessness, convenience, and shareable were the themes that will stand out for retailers.

“Seamless retailing in this region is no longer defined by bricks-andmortar and e-commerce. There has been a growing trend amongst retailers and brands in recent years to offer a unified experience,” Chan said at the Retail Asia Summit day 1.

There may have been a surge in online shopping in the last two years, but because of convenience, consumers still shopped in-stores for more customer experience and

Seamless retailing is no longer defined by bricks-andmortar and e-commerce

instant access to products, he added.

For shareability, businesses should ‘emotionalise’ their stores by making them social-media-ready to attract digital natives in APAC to their stores.

“This helped to build awareness by allowing consumers that visit the physical stores to take advantage of the visually appealing and shareable spaces and upload content related to the business,” Chan said.

Zara Lightowler, an Associate Partner at Bain & Company, said loyalty programmes or the “strategy of loving your customers and getting them to love you back” has been important.

Andy Parker, a Partner at Innosight, said the disintermediation happening is a time of threat for retailers who are now facing competition from multiple directions.

“But it's also a time of immense opportunity for well-funded new players to seize opportunities with more agility, an immense opportunity for the incumbents to reinvent themselves in the face of this disruption and to make some bold moves,” he said.

With the tech-savvy consumers, retailers are expected to continuously

He added that China is still regarded as the “regional leader” in the retail industry, citing e-commerce giant Alibaba, which heavily invested in technologies to create an “integrated retail ecosystem” that merges online, offline, logistics, and payment tools.

“This ecosystem helped retailers to better identify consumers and offer unified and personalised services to their virtual and physical stores, which consequently increases customer loyalty,” he said. “All of these help provide the necessary framework to allow a seamless experience that the Chinese consumer desires and pave the way for tech developments for the region or even global retail industry.”

FairPrice recognised the emerging trend amongst consumers for convenience by going contactless, by launching an artificial intelligenceenabled unmanned cashless store, said Fairprice Deputy Group CEO Elaine Heng. This was opened at one of their stores in Tampines in Singapore and opened in three more stores in schools.

At the height of the pandemic, the supermarket launched FairPrice on Wheels to bring the store to the doorstep of customers, especially the elderly. They brought their mobile vans equipped with chillers and refrigeration to 11 low-income elderly estates including one hospital where they can have access to fresh essentials. From 2015 to

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2021, Innosight’s Parker said total funding has grown from $33b to $148b or a 20% year-on-year growth. Almost 80% of these fundings are going to new retail platforms and new technologies for supply chain and logistics, Parker said.

Omnichannel is a must “Consumers keep telling us they want to explore and browse online, but maybe collect in the store or at home and have an easy return journey. So omnichannel will continue to be critical for the success and the differentiation,” Bain & Company’s Lightowler said.

Other businesses have also adopted ways to connect with their consumers, especially during the pandemic. KH Lim, Founder and Group Executive Chairman of Senheng Electric, has six dimensions for its omnichannel strategy: offline commerce, online commerce, telemarketing app commerce, mobile app commerce, livestream KOL commerce, and redemption commerce.

At a time when their stores were closed, 1,800 employees of Senheng Electric were working from home. Senheng Electric’s IT engineers developed the telemarketing app to communicate with their customers. The system autoselects 10 leads for every employee to contact and collect orders.

“By using the telemarketing apps, we are getting as high as a 15% conversion rate. It was indeed a secret weapon,” Lim said, adding that they will be improving the system by relying on videos and pre-recorded audio to engage with customers.

Senheng also launched a mobile store in November 2021 and is now getting close to $1m worth of sales monthly. It became a “platformbased model” wherein they invited third-party merchants to onboard the platform.

Thailand’s The Mall Group is present both online and offline. But its customers can reach its staff through other platforms, according to Natee Srirussamee, Senior Vice President of Digital Retail.

The Mall Group offers Chat & Shop service to its customers as some still needed to discuss or ask for more details about a product despite shopping online. It also has the Live Personal Shopper wherein a staff will

EVENT: RETAIL ASIA SUMMIT 2022

do a live stream, walk around the store, and shop for the customers.

It has also entered metaverse by creating its own called Mniverse that will allow existing and potential consumers to engage with brands, as well as connect with their friends.

“We don't think that there'll be a lot of immediate purchase, a transaction in the metaverse but we are looking for Metaverse to be a place where we can engage people with the brand we can create a perception that we are actually in the innovative front of the retail,” he said.

Brick-and-mortar is here to stay “It's about how we introduce the new ways of shopping to still engage our customers to make stores a destination, one that is more experiential, one of discovery of engagement or exploration,” Fairprice’ Heng said.

Fairprice launched a blended supermarket concept in their physical stores In its VivoCity outlet, FairPrice allows customers to pick what they want from the store and have it cooked for them.

For the FairPrice Xtra Parkway Parade, they installed a cocktail bar inside the supermarket.

“That’s one part about how we can actually make stores as a destination as a place of emotional bonding for the community as well,” she said.

In the Asia Pacific region, Chan said traditional grocery retailing remains one of the most important channels as it accounts for 27% of the total retail value sales in 2020, compared to 18% globally, indicating that it plays a more important role for consumers in the region that modern grocery retailers like supermarkets and convenience stores.

Whilst the channels were previously less affected by the pandemic, the rise of digitalisation poses a threat to traditional grocery retailing, as e-commerce has seen a compound annual growth rate of more than 23% between 2015 to 2020, and is likely to continue.

“It is vital for traditional grocery retailers to not only incorporate new and innovative digital technologies such as modern digital payment methods, and improvement in fulfilment, but also keeping the personal and sincere customer service that they already offer,” he said, this

will contribute to a more seamless shopping experience.

But how will stores evolve? Chan said the rise of the digital era will give two main types of physical retail spaces. The first type is the convenience store which will sell impulse purchases and irregularly purchased convenience goods. Its front- and back-end operations will be supported by technology.

The second type is the experiential store, which is suitable for products that require more consideration such as electronics or clothes. Some of these stores may focus on pure functionality such as educating customers on scientific benefits or product attributes.

Other trends that can be expected in stores in the future include check-in before check-out, wherein customers will be identified upon entry through facial scanning, which will enable the store to provide a more tailored experience based on their personal information and shopping history.

Chan said contextual shopping will also be on the rise where products will be tested in various weather, terrain, or lighting conditions that will be emulated by technology, and the experiential ticket entry by creating experiences that will generate new revenue streams.

There will also be community collaborations in which physical places can become a place where consumers and store associates can design and co-create products. This will provide an opportunity for consumers, staff, and local experts to share expertise and work together on circular projects such as repairing or upcycling previously bought items.

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We are looking for metaverse to be a place where we can engage people with the brand

EVENT: RETAIL ASIA SUMMIT 2022

How the lockdown transformed consumer behaviour in the digital era

Speakers at the RetailAsiaSummit discussed their forecasts for the retail industry in the next two to five years.

As a result of the accelerated digital transformation in the past two years, the next couple of years for retail will be about the “complementary meshing of digital and non-digital options,” Matthew Crabbe, Director of Trends for Asia-Pacific at Mintel said at the Retail Asia Summit day 2.

In the following five years, customers are expected to look at a “more purposeful kind of joy” and seek balance in their lives both physically and virtually. This will lead to a “greater appreciation” of spending time with people and brands both online and offline.

Citing data from Mintel reports in 2021, Crabbe said that 71% of Malaysian consumers agreed that most of their leisure activities involve using digital technology, whilst 48% of Indian consumers strongly agreed that they seek fun in all aspects of life.

Consumers want to be “in control” by demanding better access to information from retailers to prove their products or services’ value, especially at a time of inflation. Some customers may want more do-ityourself products, whilst others would like to make their own menu.

Other consumers are preparing for the worst by relying on technology to measure risks and monitor their own health using trackers or applications and seek solutions.

“There's this idea of consumers using their own information to get something tangible back. It's about this transactional use of data; I give you data, and you give me something that I need in return,” Crabbe said.

“People are starting to use tech to get better value. They're not only creating new avenues of income for themselves but also creating personalised solutions for their needs,” Mintel's director added.

Meaningful spaces

Around four in five Malaysian consumers who own a smartphone have used price comparison websites or applications, whilst three in five Thai consumers said that if they

had an extra THB1m, they would prioritise using it to start their own business. At least one in two Vietnamese consumers said they have tried or would be interested to try personalised food or drink according to their needs, Crabbe said.

Consumers are seeking “flexible spaces” both in and out of their homes. He said that brands can help consumers to maximise their compact spaces at home and other places for people who are travelling.

He noted that there is an “unknown space” such as the metaverse, another opportunity retailers can consider to connect with consumers.

“The real trick for the future will be for retailers to create really meaningful spaces in which people can feel they can obtain tangible advancement, fulfilment, and joy,” he said.

Rajesh Kumar, CEO Overseas at Ferns N Petals, said omnichannel presence is important as some customers go to physical retail outlets for product identification and selection, but purchase online.

Customers are becoming “more vocal for local,” he said, noting that this consumer behaviour is mostly seen in China and India as the

governments pushed for local brands.

“The learning and probably action item for the global brands will be to present themselves as a local brand in all the countries wherever they operate,” he said, adding that having vernacular language support is also vital.

Data-driven operations

In attracting customers, hingeing on data is going to be an enormous trend in the retail industry that will fuel growth for many businesses to respond more effectively to consumer demands in a “more realtime manner,” said David Llamas, the Chief Digital Officer at Central Retail Corporation.

“If we don’t know our customers, we cannot give them what they need or what they want he said, noting that some of the data they have collected include the customer’s preferred brand, and their delivery address, amongst others, but its use are within the perimeters of data protection laws,” David Lim, Senior Vice President of Marketing at HappyFresh said.

Leonard Jayamohan, Director at Deloitte Consulting Southeast Asia,

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There's this idea of consumers using their own information to get something tangible back

urged businesses to keep an eye on data privacy laws that are coming up in Southeast Asia as some markets are still in the process of crafting one.

Businesses should also look for technologies that can help in the tokenisation of data, he said.

Data can help in finding specific products online, a key challenge that was observed during the pandemic, said Fairmart CEO Jan Gasparic This has been the case for over four million retailers in Southeast Asia.

“They were losing over $4.5b a year in sales to their online competitors, simply because their inventory was not searchable online,” he said, adding that in Singapore, 95% of the transactions are still happening in physical stores despite the prevalence of e-commerce.

To help physical stores, Gasparic said they offer solutions to digitise their products so their products appear on online searches and they capture local consumers.

Fairmart installs a device in-store to connect a barcode scanner for products to provide them with a picture of the available items and then generate product listings containing all other items that are currently in the inventory.

“The goal is not necessarily for the retailer to sell online, the goal is for them to display their products online and get them into the stores. You can think of this as a modern digital equivalent of window shopping,” he said, noting that if customers do not see local options, they would just opt to buy online.

Gasparic added that they have seen a conversion rate that is six times higher in the last six to 12 months.

Meanwhile, Kumar said that

EVENT: RETAIL ASIA SUMMIT 2022

Our priority remains to create this lifestyle where secondhand is the first choice

whenever possible.

The younger generations are also more passionate about reducing waste and consuming sustainably, which can be supported by buying unused or under-used products like secondhand goods that are still in good condition.

She cited a Carousell report that stated a vast majority of millennials in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong felt that purchasing pre-owned items is more sustainable and 50% felt strongly about it. Aside from this, consumers are choosing secondhand because of value for money.

customers have started comparing products and services, wherein they look at product assortment, pricing, and serviceability, and go for the brand that offers those three qualities the best, leading to loyalty slightly going down. To track these consumer behaviours, they rely on various tools such as Google.

But for Ferns N Petals, going with the “app first approach,” focused on developing their website will be their strategy. They have also launched an app via Apple and Android.

Kumar also said that they plan to understand user behaviour by segmenting data and “targetting them as their needs and demands.”

“That will further help us associate more with the customers and then get them back on their website. Priority on data analytics and then app first approach is going to be the focus for this year,” he said.

Going for secondhand Whilst there was a boom in e-commerce in the region, there was also an increase in overconsumption and waste. This is what the e-commerce platform for secondhand items, Carousell, tries to address, said Penny Cox, Head of Recommerce.

“Previously in the region, buying secondhand was seen as something kind of undesirable and meant you couldn't afford brand new items. Now, we're really seeing the shift towards secondhand. Secondhand finds are actually becoming something to brag about on social media,” Cox said.

In its sustainability report, Carousell found that 72% of its users across its eight markets have made secondhand purchases before, of which three in 10 make secondhand purchases

Cox, however, said some do not choose secondhand because it is not trusted as e-commerce, and it is much harder to shop for secondhand items, making it less convenient.

To address these, she said they are trying to build solutions that will allow them to buy and have their orders shipped within the application, “as quick and secure” as shopping on e-commerce platforms. They have launched authentication services for luxury items to ensure product quality and that they are not ripped off.

To keep customers’ money safe, the platform offers a warranty for electronics. It also offers returns or at least has dispute resolution policies to sort out problems. Carousell also launched the InstantBuy feature where items can be delivered by just clicking the check-out option, removing the need to chat to buy an item. “Our priority remains to create this lifestyle where secondhand is the first choice because it's as easy as firsthand,” Cox said.

Logistics side

With the rise of omnichannel strategies and brands purchasing from other markets, Martin Tan, Head of Operations at J&T Express Singapore, said that online businesses can improve the delivery of their products by ensuring convenience and traceability.

Convenience can influence purchases and this could be handled by providing more delivery options to customers. “Service points and parcel lockers provide efficiency and convenience for both businesses and consumers,” he said.

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Outstanding retailers and retail initiatives recognised at the Retail Asia Awards 2022

The retail industry has continued to remain steadfast amidst uncertainties and challenges. Industry players have used these struggles to find avenues for growth and opportunities. In recent years, retailers’ digital transformation journeys have been one of the most recognisable breakthroughs that disrupted how business is done.

As more companies gear towards the ‘new normal,’ businesses have now regained their strengths and have learned to leverage the latest technologies and adapt to the business needs in a fast-paced, often shifting environment. At the same time, this venture has also compelled companies to adapt to new methods of monitoring and controlling the supply chain, as well as innovating ways to keep consumers engaged.

In recognition of the organisations that go beyond their capabilities in delivering quality experience to its customers, Retail Asia Awards 2022 honoured these companies in a prestigious awards programme

RetailAsia congratulates the following winners:

A.S. Watson Group

ESG Initiative of the Year - Asia Health & Beauty Retailer of the Year - Asia Omnichannel Strategy of the Year - Asia Sustainability Initiative of the Year - Asia

Abdullah AlOthaim Markets Company Marketing Initiative of the Year - Saudi Arabia

Abu Issa Holding International Retailer of the Year - Qatar

ACE HARDWARE PHILS. INC Hardware Retailer of the Year - Philippines adidas Malaysia Brand Store of the Year - Malaysia

AEON CO. (M) BHD. CEO of the Year, Shafie Shamsuddin Sustainability Initiative of the Year - Malaysia

BREADTALK GROUP PTE LTD Food & Beverage Retailer of the Year - Singapore

Central Food Retail Company Limited Supermarket of the Year - Thailand Omnichannel Strategy of the Year - Thailand

Central Retail Corporation Public Company Limited Digital Initiative of the Year - Thailand O2O Customer Experience of the Year - Thailand Retail App of the Year - Thailand

iShopChangi, Changi Airport Group (S) Pte Ltd Omnichannel Strategy of the Year - Singapore Charles & Keith Store Design of the Year (Small) - Hong Kong

Chip Mong Retail Mall of the Year - Cambodia

CRC Sports Co., Ltd. Sporting Goods Retailer of the Year - Thailand

held through digital award presentations on 27 June to 1 July and studio award presentations in Singapore on 4 July. Winners were able to share their thoughts on winning the awards and on the changing industry through a video interview.

This year’s entries were reviewed by an esteemed panel of judges, which includes EY Asean Consumer Leader Olivier Gergele, KPMG Head of Consumer & Retail, ASPAC & Head of Technology, Media & Telecoms, Hong Kong Anson Bailey, RSM Singapore Partner, F&B, Retail and Consumer Products David Eu, Euromonitor International Senior Consultant Hianyang Chan, and PwC Asia Pacific, Mainland China and Hong Kong Consumer Markets Leader Michael Cheng.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Dmall Life (China) Digital Technology Customer Service Initiative of the Year - China Digital Initiative of the Year - China

ELISE FASHION LIMITED COMPANY Apparel Retailer of the Year - Vietnam Etaily and Landmark Digital Initiative of the Year - Philippines

FairPrice Group Brand Transformation of the Year - Singapore O2O Customer Experience of the Year - Singapore Specialty Store of the Year - Singapore Supermarket of the Year - Singapore

Furniture Republic Pvt Ltd Brand Store of the Year - Nepal

GUERLAIN Cosmetics Retailer of the Year - Hong Kong

Jaykay Marketing Services (Pvt) Ltd. Supermarket of the Year - Sri Lanka Store Design of the Year (Large) - Sri Lanka Sustainability Initiative of the Year - Sri Lanka

K11 Concepts Limited Pop-up Retail Project of the Year - Hong Kong Kmart Australia International Retailer of the Year - Australia Store Design of the Year (Large) - Australia Sustainability Initiative of the Year - Australia

Koala Sleep Japan Retail Product of the Year - Japan Loship Food & Beverage Retailer of the Year - Vietnam

Lotus’s Thailand Brand Transformation of the Year - Thailand Marketing Initiative of the Year - Thailand Sustainability Initiative of the Year - Thailand

LUXASIA Cosmetics Retailer of the Year - Singapore Mall of Dilmunia Marketing Initiative of the Year - Bahrain

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EVENT: RETAIL ASIA AWARDS

Mannings Hong Kong Retail Product of the Year - Hong Kong

Megaworld Lifestyle Malls Brand Transformation of the Year - Philippines

Melandas Indonesia Furniture Retailer of the Year - Indonesia

Metro (Private) Limited Department Store of the Year - Singapore

OnTheList Limited Apparel Retailer of the Year - Hong Kong

Petzone Direct Retailer of the Year - Kuwait

PHARMACITY PHARMACY JOINT STOCK COMPANY Drugstore of the Year - Vietnam Health & Beauty Retailer of the Year - Vietnam

Pinduoduo ESG Initiative of the Year - China

PT Supra Boga Lestari, Tbk Supermarket of the Year - Indonesia Store Design of the Year (Large) - Indonesia Sustainability Initiative of the Year - Indonesia Sino Group Marketing Initiative of the Year - Hong Kong

SM Supermalls Mall of the Year - Philippines ESG Initiative of the Year - Philippines

Starling Labs Limited Store Retail Initiative of the Year - Hong Kong Swarovski Marketing Initiative of the Year - Malaysia

TFP Retail Sdn Bhd ESG Initiative of the Year - Malaysia

The Body Shop India Health & Beauty Retailer of the Year - India ESG Initiative of the Year - India

The North Face APAC Pop-up Retail Project of the Year - China

The North Face Hong Kong Brand Store of the Year - Hong Kong

The Penshoppe Group (GOLDEN ABC, Inc.)

Domestic E-Tailer of the Year - Philippines

Toys"R"Us Japan Toys & Games Retailer of the Year - Japan

Watsons Personal Care Stores (Philippines), Inc.

Health & Beauty Retailer of the Year - Philippines

Omnichannel Strategy of the Year - Philippines Sustainability Initiative of the Year - Philippines

Watsons Singapore Health & Beauty Retailer of the Year - Singapore

Wilcon Depot, Inc. Domestic Retailer of the Year - Philippines

ZALORA Marketing Initiative of the Year - Singapore

Zen Corporation Group Public Company Limited Food & Beverage Retailer of the Year - Thailand

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ACE HARDWARE PHILS. INC AEON CO. (M) BHD. Central Food Retail Company Limited Abdullah AlOthaim Markets Company Central Retail Corporation
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CRC Sports Co., Ltd. Elise Fashion Limited Company Etaily and Landmark FairPrice Group Kopitiam Investment Pte. Ltd. Kmart Australia Koala Sleep Japan Guerlain Luxasia Mannings Hong Kong NTUC FairPrice Marketplace
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Dmall
Life (China) Digital Technology
Megaworld Lifestyle Malls
Metro (Private) Limited
Pharmacity
Melandas Indonesia NTUC Fairprice Co-operative Ltd
SM Supermalls
PT Supra Boga Lestari Tbk
Sino Group Swarovski
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EVENT:
ASIA AWARDS
The Penshoppe Group (Golden ABC) Toys"R"Us Japan Watsons Personal Care Stores (Philippines), Inc. Watsons International Watsons Singapore TFP Retail Sdn. Bhd. Wilcon Depot Zalora Changi Airport Group
FairPrice Group’s B2B Food Solutions is here to provide quality & value supplies to support the growth of F&B business and the community. SHOP NOW Find out more: www.chefspantry.sg support@chefspantry.sg +65 3135 1556 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) WWW.ZALORA.COM

Mannings Hong Kong wins Retail Product of the Year

of the product. Bunnies on the packaging and in key campaigns make it more loveable and appealing. The launch was big and bold, with advertisements on train station panels, train escalators, bus seats, and a front-page newspaper feature.

The Mannings stores in Hong Kong and Macau were fully dressed up with window stickers, gondola ends, and product stackings near the cashier area.

In addition to positive feedback from customers, the store team members also put their trust in the products and actively shared their experiences with customers.

In the digital space, it had social engagements involving 100 micro-influencers and live streaming with key opinion leaders. This was considered a cross-over initiative with its National Brands partners and e-commerce. Live streaming was also used to help customers discover the many usage options of the different products.

Recognising excellence

In the summer of 2020, DFI Retail Group embarked on a transformation journey to reinvent its own brand in health and beauty— Mannings. Now, the brand is considered to be the leading health and beauty products chain store in Hong Kong.

Mannings’ own brand transformation journey is focused on customer needs being front and centre for the company. Every category assortment definition and new product development starts by studying customer and team members’ feedback, looking at market trends, and collecting newness all over the world. In this case, it started with an innovation showcase meeting in which team members spoke about which product they liked and why, selected new options, and explored further. This evolved into the Mannings Cotton and Paper product strategy and brand reinvention.

The goal is to offer customers quality everyday products at a great value. According to Elisabeth Van Den Berkmortel, Commercial Director - Mannings Hong Kong & Macau and Group Commercial Director - Own Brand Health & Beauty Product Development and Marketing, “We are humbled and grateful

that our customers trust us to be part of their daily lives. They trust us for their basic needs and for their more premium or unique needs. We sell a paper product every 2 seconds and we sell more cotton products than anyone else in Hong Kong and that comes with a responsibility to ensure we provide high-quality products at low prices. Value for money is important for everyday needs.”

Mannings' exciting innovations

The cotton assortment was relaunched with a clear tiering system to cater to different customer needs at different moments. One of the exciting innovations launched by Mannings is the Face Towel.

Inspired by Japanese trends, the Face Towel is a combination of a beauty product and an everyday essential paper towel. The softness of cotton with the strength of paper makes it truly multi-functional. It can be used wet or dry on the face and body and is packaged in a convenient drawstring bag. From launch, it was well-received by customers and soon became an instant bestseller.

Mannings revamped the packaging to better reflect the softness and freshness

For this relaunch, Mannings Hong Kong was awarded with the Retail Product of the Year - Hong Kong trophy at the 17th Retail Asia Awards, a prestigious annual event that gathers the region's best retailers and recognises the most outstanding retail initiatives.

“The award means a lot to us. It’s a recognition of everyone’s effort in Mannings. A launch and campaign of this size are only possible with everyone’s help and support. Although Product Development, Design, and Marketing are important, Store Team Members, Supply Chain, and Planogram teams are just as important. You need to have the right product at the right moment, at the right place for the right price, which came with some unexpected challenges during COVID-19. It was the whole team who took ownership and made this happen. This award is a team effort and a team win,” said Elisabeth Van Den Berkmortel in her closing remarks.

Everyone deserves to feel specialevery day. Mannings Cotton and Paper make Everyday Commodities special. This is real Innovation!

30 RETAIL ASIA
We sell a paper product every 2 seconds and we sell more cotton products than anyone else in Hong Kong and that comes with a responsibility to ensure we provide high-quality products at low prices
RETAIL PRODUCT OF THE YEAR - HONG KONG
It was awarded for transforming cotton and paper from everyday basic commodities to making them extra special with brand reinvention.
Mannings Cotton and Paper (Store Front)
RETAIL ASIA 31

Retailers’ key to digital success: the Gokongweifunded, Ayala-backed omnichannel architect

With accelerated eCommerce growth triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is welcoming the omnichannel revolution. Consumers experience the various advantages of omnichannel, perhaps even without realising it. They can engage seamlessly with their brands online and offline and stay updated with their purchases and preferences.

Brands increasingly emphasise integrating offline and online components whilst considering their customers' various digital platforms in a comprehensive buyers’ journey. This integration is vital for brands, especially legacy stores, to survive and transition into the competitive online landscape.

These changes have made it hard for retailers to keep up with this so-called retail apocalypse. They constantly seek an opportunity to have a unified network of touch points to interact consistently with customers. With the help of the omnichannel architect, Etaily, brands are transitioning into eCommerce . The fast-rising technology provides them with the technology needed to cope and thrive during this pivotal time in the industry.

“We want to empower brands to make that leap into the powerful engine of eCommerce,”

said Alexander Friedhoff, etaily CEO and co-founder. The company helps retailers customise their solutions and leverage omnichannel for brands to better understand and serve their markets, resulting in more significant market share and sales. Its solution covers the entire digital transformation with a comprehensive eCommerce operating system that the modern retailer needs to succeed online. “etaily provides these services for brands regardless of their stage in their retail eCommerce journey,” added Friedhoff.

Powered by the Gokongwei and Ayala groups, etaily has been transforming the eCommerce landscape in the country, empowering retail icons to create and maintain their digital shopping beachheads. One of the biggest Philippine retailers, Landmark, embarked on an omnichannel transformation with etaily. This initiative earned global recognition at the Retail Asia Awards for the Digital Initiative of the Year category in the Philippines.

Friedhoff described their partnership experience with Landmark as “an incredible experience for us at etaily. We had the opportunity to modernise an iconic retail brand’s digital storefronts and retail strategies, which helped accelerate their

digital transformation. To be recognised for our work gives us an even greater motivation to evolve and scale up our business.”

Anthony Cheng, CFO of Landmark, shared how etaily’s solutions impacted the retailer’s eCommerce journey: “With etaily accelerating our digital transformation, they allow us to compete in the modern retail landscape and prepare us to lead the digital future.” etaily provided Landmark with a complete eCommerce solution, from the digital presence, scalability, to customer experience. The scope of the partnership also allows Landmark to focus on other essential business areas such as merchandise assortment, whilst maintaining the brand’s traditional sensibilities that customers know and value.

The future of digital retail is geared toward omnichannel services, and retailers should already begin taking steps toward refining structures for business operations and finding ways to catch up with the transition. Brands face the challenge of embracing this critical era, and etaily’s omnichannel capabilities are vital in shaping digital growth in their respective markets.

“All of us are in a pivotal moment, as eCommerce is growing with more and more retail companies and brands moving to the digital space. It is an exciting, powerful journey that helps us adopt new capabilities whilst extending to newer, perhaps larger markets,” said Friedhoff.

32 RETAIL ASIA
We want to empower brands to make that leap into the powerful engine of eCommerce
PHILIPPINES
DIGITAL INITIATIVE OF THE YEAR -
etaily CEO and co-founder Alexander Friedhoff shares how working with Landmark in creating a seamless offline-to-online integration leads to an omnichannel customer experience. etaily team receives the Retail Asia Award for Digital Initiative of the year - Philippines

etaily prepares businesses for omnichannel, SEA success

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, retailers realised the importance of eCommerce and how it could accelerate the online aspect of their business. Customers also recognised its value in getting essential goods. However, companies shifting to the online environment needed help as this phase required a complete understanding of online and offline business systems to make the transition as seamless as possible.

Growth amidst adversity

It was in March 2020, during the start of the lockdowns, that etaily began its operations in the Philippines. For any new business, the pandemic would have brought its end. For etaily, however, rather than being hindered by this crisis, the company flourished because it had the tools and expertise to respond to the calls of many companies, especially legacy ones, which needed to integrate eCommerce into their business processes.

Today, etaily serves significant clients in the Philippines and worldwide, such as Reckitt Benckiser, Century Pacific, Nivea, Levi's, Skechers, Terranova, and Landmark Corporation. Its omnichannel capabilities, end-to-end fulfilment services, and highly

experienced team of committed experts enable these brands to succeed in the eCommerce space.

O2O integration

“Our vision is to provide forward-thinking retailers with the technology, operations, brand, and data capabilities they need to scale up their business,” says etaily CEO and Cofounder, Alexander Friedhoff.

Its omnichannel approach integrates existing and emerging channels to give customers a seamless experience whilst simultaneously improving operational efficiency for back-end processes such as demand and supply planning, inventory management, and fulfilment (including enabling multi-warehousing capabilities) and logistics.

Friedhoff shares, “We have found that more and more retailers have been beginning to implement more omnichannel services to improve interaction with their customers. Our omnichannel capabilities are key for that development where customers and businesses can engage at any stage of their shared journeys.”

etaily's O2O software integrates offline point-of-sales and online functions such as

click-and-collect to allow rapid eCommerce and order fulfilment. It also resolves valuechain issues with its multi-warehousing capabilities, shortened delivery times, reduced shipping fees, and increased product availability.

Entering ASEAN

These new efficiencies and solutions enable these businesses to scale up and open them up to new frontiers. Retailers who can integrate their online and offline stores and services, in particular, are drawn to expanding their reach into Southeast Asia.

“With businesses increasingly entering the ASEAN market, these brands will need the help of an eCommerce enabler, as well as a partner familiar with the region and how its various countries do business,” says Friedhoff. “The omnichannel and its features help bridge the region’s cultural and market differences. They also set up the logistical base, digital ecosystem, and technology necessary to make the brand known to their new customers, fulfil their deliveries, and keep them coming back because of a rewarding user experience,” he added.

RETAIL ASIA 33
Our vision is to provide forward-thinking retailers with the technology, operations, brand, and data capabilities they need to scale up their business
OF THE YEAR - PHILIPPINES
DIGITAL INITIATIVE
The retailer was recognised for its outstanding initiatives at the Retail Asia Awards 2022. etaily team

Watsons’ O+O Synergy & Resilience has won Health & Beauty Retailer award for the 2nd consecutive year

The retail industry is more disrupted than ever. It was obvious to Watsons that they had to embrace the new future of retail or risk business decline. As such, they have stayed focused on their O+O strategy; an ecosystem that is powered by technology, big data, powerful analytics, and AI, both offline and online.

Adopting e-commerce and emerging store digital technologies, Watsons is continuing their journey to providing customers with a seamless shopping experience through establishing an online presence while sustaining footfall in physical stores. It has been working hard at synergies that create an integrated experience to better serve customers’ needs, enabling them to shop across different channels whenever, whatever.

Watsons also had to rethink its longterm strategies; improve supply-chain management, last-mile deliveries, technological capabilities, and marketing to stay ahead of the game. Consumers today demand more from retailers, and you simply cannot do it alone. Watsons strengthened its collaboration with like-minded partners such as Amazon Singapore by driving new frontiers in product range, fulfilment, and speed to customers with a 2-hour scheduled delivery service. Next up, Watsons' newly launched APP will also allow customers to have a same-day express delivery by ordering from a Watsons store closest to them. Watsons does this through technology and by tapping into their competitive advantage of a vast network of stores in Singapore.

Pushing through with sustainability

As consumers become increasingly ecoconscious and want to be part of the

sustainability movement, Watsons is also pushing ahead with green commitments and more sustainable business practices to reduce its carbon footprint. Their Bring Your Own Bag ‘BYOB’ initiative is gaining stronger traction, with an 80% reduction of bags used in the latest report. 100% of the proceeds from the plastic bag charge imposed on BYOB Day go towards supporting WWF-Singapore’s conservation initiatives. With the success of their first refillery station in JEM, more stations are in the pipeline where you can refill their number one selling own brand, Naturals by Watsons, as well as the exclusive top-selling soap brand Dr Bronner’s. As part of Watsons' Go Green efforts, customers are also able to drop recyclable plastic bottles at any one of the 25 selected Watsons stores.

Watsons continues to differentiate well against competition with their Own Brand strategy to offer value, commitment and quality assurance. Products go through quality assessments throughout the production

journey, which lasts up to 18 months. Our R&D is very stringent with all formulated products and ensures all claims are substantiated. Cosmetic products also undergo strict third-party toxicology testing and adhere to the most stringent regulations in both Asia and Europe in formulation. With the demand for clean beauty growing, 24% of their Own Brand range falls under the Sustainable Choices of having refills, better ingredients, and better packaging.

Leveraging multiple strategies

The usage of Big Data is part and parcel of Watson’s DNA, where it is applied across many different aspects of the business for better decision making. Coupled with more than 1 million membership base, robust data provides a better understanding of customers, allowing personalisation of offerings direct to customers as well as ranging and relevance. This has allowed Watsons to continue to increase customer lifetime value by making the correct business decisions backed by customer data.

Summing up the critical success factors, Watsons also recognises people as its greatest asset. They are committed to providing a safe, supportive and discrimination-free environment for all employees. By fostering a culture of people development, Watsons employees receive the right tools and training to optimise performance and growth within the company. While the pandemic might have disrupted how we work, Watsons is determined to overcome the odds and stay connected with its people via digital innovations.

"As we continue to drive forward our strategic digitisation initiatives, it is humbling to be recognised for the relevance we are creating in the retail industry.

Watsons shares this honour with our employees, suppliers and customers alike, who have helped make this possible. With a relentless commitment to our customers, we will continue to better ourselves to put a smile on customers’ faces," said Irene Lau, Managing Director of Watsons Singapore.

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Aswecontinuetodriveforwardourstrategicdigitisation initiatives,itishumblingtoberecognisedfortherelevance wearecreatingintheretailindustry.Witharelentless commitmenttoourcustomers,wewillcontinuetobetter ourselvestoputasmileoncustomers’faces
-Irene Lau, Managing Director of Watsons Singapore
HEALTH & BEAUTY RETAILER OF THE YEAR - SINGAPORE
Watsons stays ahead of competition with its O+O strategy, by embracing e-commerce and adopting store digital technologies.
Watsons Singapore team at the Retail Asia Award Watsons Refillery Station at JEM

Beauty brand Guerlain bags the Cosmetics Retailer of the Year at the Retail Asia Awards

communicating with them about their needpoints, namely skin care issues, product delivery, and other purchasing concerns.

Guerlain highlights the importance of client managers’ essential role of being a friend to customers. The development of the client manager role is a key factor in expanding the local customer base. It holds a customer-centric approach that aligns with the dramatic shifts in consumer behaviour amidst the pandemic.

Enhancing customer journey

Presented by Retail Asia, the Retail Asia Awards 2022 recognises retailers that are able to navigate their way through industry challenges, and Guerlain exceeded such standards amidst the COVID-19 crisis. With the lingering pandemic affecting industries here and there, the beauty company was able to surpass the new challenge of the adverse consumer behaviour shifts as it gained a 50% increase in the local customer base in 2021.

It is evident that Guerlain focused its strategies on providing customers with an accessible shopping experience, as its stores are available on diverse platforms both online and offline, offering customers many consumer benefits. The omnichannel approach is one of the strategies utilised by the company to boost customer acquisition. Guerlain also invested in building a Pop-up Store in Fashion Walk, Causeway Bay as one of its acquisition hubs.

Guerlain is meticulous in its customer journey design. It begins with promoting customer acquisition through its use of online recruitment. This, in turn, encourages customers to personally engage in the Popup store and enjoy the digital game journey

and exclusive new member privileges that are offered. Creative visual merchandising themes are also applied throughout the year, such as a Bee Garden, Christmas, Orchidarium, etc., to appeal to the customers. Additionally, Guerlain expands its consumer demographic by focusing on product marketing and new launches for designated customer groups so as to cater to different customer needs and offer distinctive customer experiences.

The beauty company prioritised understanding the customers’ “needpoints” by improving the client manager role during the pandemic. The client manager attends to the customers’ ongoing needs in a more personalised way by proactively

The beauty company is dedicated to sustaining long-term loyalty by enhancing their clients’ customer journey. Guerlain has strengthened its all-year-long communication automation campaign and birthday privileges, as well as its provision of services and customer workshops and events for engagement. With the multiple privileges and services offered, Guerlain appeals to a wide range of customers that will stay in the long run.

As a result of all these initiatives, Guerlain has proven that in retail, creating acquisition hubs in an omnichannel approach is essential, especially today when customers have a variety of platforms to choose from in terms of their purchasing needs. Guerlain also brought light to the significance of proactively attending to customers’ need points, as this builds a relationship that is a key factor in customer base enlargement.

36 RETAIL ASIA
Guerlain has proven that in retail, creating acquisition hubs in an omnichannel approach is essential, especially today when customers have a variety of platforms to choose from in terms of their purchasing needs
HONG KONG
COSMETICS RETAILER OF THE YEAR -
Their retail excellence is attributed to customer-centred marketing strategies and the creation of acquisition hubs.
Guerlain’s creative visual merchandising Guerlain prioritises understanding the customers’ “need-points”
Email:
fb.com/elisevietnam www.elise.vn
8th Floors, EuroWindow Building, 02 Ton That Tung Str, Dong Da Dist, Ha Noi, Viet Nam
support@elise.vn

Lotus’s Thailand enhances leader position with “New SMART Retail”

Ready to grow alongside an economic recovery in H2 2022 by strengthening omnichannel offerings through new store openings and a nationwide e-commerce roll-out.

Lotus’s Thailand (Ek-Chai Distribution System) is set to capitalise on the anticipated economic recovery in the second half of 2022 by leading the “New SMART Retail,” in which smart technology seamlessly connects offline stores with online platforms to offer customers a delightful, and frictionless shopping experience. The retailer will continue to open new stores and refurbish existing ones to become “Everyday SMART Community Centres” for customers. It also plans to enhance the reach of its e-commerce platform, which currently has the most extensive network of distribution points, with around 2,300 stores located nationwide.

Mr Sompong Rungnirattisai, Chief Executive Officer, Lotus’s Thailand, said: “We have started to see positive signs since Q2 of 2022, with higher consumer

spending. The recovering economic situation along with the good progress of our strategic programmes have led to the achievement of our performance targets. Since the start of the year, we have laid a foundation that will help Lotus’s become a leader in New SMART Retail, with a powerful IT infrastructure that connects our 2,300 physical stores nationwide with our e-commerce platform. We are also using big data to offer intelligent personalisation to our customers through our reward programme My Lotus’s.”

Inspiring fresh and food destination

During the first half of 2022, Lotus’s opened 39 new stores and introduced new and delightful concepts that cater to the lifestyles of customers in specific locations. These include SMART Urban Supermarket at Nuanchan, Open Air Mall

at Khlong 2, and SMART F&B Heaven at Sutthisarn. Ultimately, all stores are geared to become inspiring fresh and food destinations as well as everyday SMART community centres for customers whenever and wherever they visit. For the second half of the year, Lotus’s will open another 70-80 new stores, including Lotus’s North Ratchapruek in Q4 2022. A wide array of F&B options are also being added to Lotus’s shopping malls. For the first six months of 2022, Lotus’s enlisted 1,300 F&B tenants in its malls across the country, with the aim of reaching 5,800 F&B tenants by year-end.

In Lotus’s hypermarkets and supermarkets, the focus has been on fresh food, where end-to-end improvements have been made throughout the whole value chain, from sourcing the best quality products locally and internationally, upping

40 RETAIL ASIA
Sompong Rungnirattisai, CEO of Ek-Chai Distribution System

quality and safety standards, adding new delightful ranges, to upgrading in-store and online fresh food shopping experiences. A variety of products, including GI (geographical indications) fruits, premium and imported products, as well as locally-grown leafy vegetables, have been introduced in appropriate stores across Thailand. All offers continue at affordable prices.

SMART life solutions

In March 2022, Lotus’s unveiled its powerful Lotus’s SMART App, the first application from a retailer that combines e-commerce with a highly personalised reward programme. Since its launch, the application has been downloaded by more than 5 million customers, and online sales have grown more than 400% since March 2022.

SMART technology seamlessly connects the e-commerce platform with Lotus’s network of around 2,300 stores nationwide, enabling customers across Thailand to place online orders and receive their products from a Lotus’s store near them. Lotus’s Go Fresh stores offer ondemand services with deliveries made within one hour of an order being placed, whilst Lotus’s hypermarkets offer a more comprehensive choice of products with next-day delivery services. Real-time inventory updates ensure that customers receive available products from the store closest to them.

Thanks to Lotus’s SMART App, Lotus’s is now the supermarket retailer with the most extensive network of fulfilment centres in Thailand, with an ability to deliver products to consumers quickly and efficiently.

Personalised value that goes beyond price

The rewards programme, My Lotus’s, is a crucial tool in ensuring highly personalised offers and value to each specific customer with the use of artificial intelligence and big data. Through the programme, customers collect coins with every purchase made both offline and online. The coins can be redeemed for instant discounts or several other privileges, offline as well as online.

My Lotus’s Member Price, a programme that was introduced in July this year, has taken personalised value to the next level. Thanks to the collaboration with more than 50 leading brands, Lotus’s is able to offer the best prices on more than 500 products to My Lotus’s members. The programme will continue throughout the second half of 2022 to help customers through inflation.

Everyday sustainability

Lotus’s is committed to being a platform of opportunities for SME operators and local farmers. In addition to being a distribution channel, Lotus’s has developed SMEs and

farmers’ capabilities through a wide range of incubation programmes, from which more than 2,500 SME operators have benefited during the first six months of the year.

For the second half of 2022, Lotus’s will continue to enlist more SME suppliers and expand its direct sourcing efforts to provide sustainable income to farmers and quality products to customers. In collaboration with CP Origin, Lotus’s is also introducing a convenient online platform to help SMEs find effective sales channels through Lotus’s malls.

“We see positive external factors to the economy. Lotus’s is well poised to capitalise on the growth and cater to rising demands, thanks to the strong foundation that we have laid.” Sompong concluded.

As of 31 July 2022, Lotus’s currently has a total of 2,279 stores comprised of 224 hypermarkets, 203 supermarkets, and 1,852 mini-supermarkets. The retailer is exp ecting to open 70 new stores by the second half of 2022, bringing the total number to around 2,350 by year-end.

RETAIL ASIA 41
Since the start of the year, we have laid a foundation that will help Lotus’s become a leader in New SMART Retail, with a powerful IT infrastructure that connects our 2,300 physical stores nationwide with our e-commerce platform
- THAILAND
SUSTAINABILITY INITIATIVE OF THE YEAR
Lotus’s Go Fresh stores Lotus’s provides opportunities for SME operators and local farmers Lotus’s hypermarkets and supermarkets

Into the dreamland with Koala Sleep Japan

Introducing a new product into markets involves a lot of risks, especially if the target market has a cultural background that does without the product. In August 2021, Koala Sleep Japan introduced their newest product, the new Koala Mattress, offering never-before-seen comfort to their Japanese customers and winning the Retail Product of the Year - Japan Award at the Retail Asia Awards 2022.

Despite the fact that the previous Koala mattresses supported an ideal sleeping position and were comfortable to sleep on, there were some comments that they were too soft.

New Koala Mattress was developed, featuring two sides with differing softness that allow users to choose between a softer and firmer side by flipping the upper layer over. Despite this feature, the support function for the ideal sleeping posture

is maintained, highlighting one of the strengths of the Koala Mattress.

Bringing this feature into their mattress made the Koala Mattress the first of its kind in Japan, and such a feature not only acts as a novelty to set the product apart from its competitors but allows users to choose the appropriate firmness that suits

their condition and body shape for a comfortable night’s sleep.

Another feature incorporated into the mattress is the TENCEL™ lyocell fibre, which increases air permeability in the mattress, releasing heat and solving that pain point during sleeping, along with being soft to the touch. The mattress also has such high vibration absorption that the company boasts that a glass of wine put on one side of the mattress will not fall over if someone jumps next to it.

Due to the cultural background and prevalence of using futons for sleeping, the Japanese are not accustomed to sleeping on mattresses, much less on soft ones. As a way of introducing the widespread use of mattresses, the Koala Mattress was developed to address the problem of having soft mattresses for those who are accustomed to sleeping on a hard surface by providing that firmness that a futon can provide.

RETAIL PRODUCT OF THE YEAR - JAPAN New Koala Mattress The company wins at the Retail Asia Awards 2022.

Singapore’s Department Store of the Year 2022

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Metro
Metro
brand you can trust for Design, Quality
Value.
Visit us at
Paragon and
Woodlands, or shop online at metro.com.sg. The
&

DAVID COGHILL

The unspoken expectation from a Singapore consumer with a full shopping cart this holiday season

Shift to online stores requires more attention

The pandemic has accelerated the shift to online shopping, as consumers flocked online amid physical restrictions in the last couple of years. While Singapore has recently loosened COVID-19 safety measures, the impact of the pandemic on online retail will last well beyond the recovery phase. For Singapore retailers, sustaining the online sales momentum requires them to pay greater attention to consumers’ shopping experience, while moving past a myopic focus on ad-based targeting.

Traditionally, physical stores have been more inclined to improve the shopping experience, adding value through tangible elements like providing couches where companions of shoppers can wait or offering refreshments, especially in the case of luxury shops. Without the element of tangibility, online shopping requires more creativity, and this is a gap retailers need to plug as they look into building connections with customers online.

Forming a lasting impression that turns one transaction into repeat purchases is all about effective communications throughout the purchase journey: identifying moments of truth, and sending the right message to consumers at the right time and channel. One area that most online retailers typically overlook is after-purchase customer engagement, and during the holiday season, the days after Christmas are especially crucial as these are the biggest return-and-exchange days of the year. The value of having stellar after-sales customer engagement cannot be overemphasised: customers need to feel heard and supported even after purchasing items, or the relationship won’t progress beyond a single transaction. This is where technology – including WhatsApp messaging and chatbots – can provide a two-way communication avenue for live exchanges, enabling retailers and consumers to resolve after-purchase issues more efficiently. By putting the focus on building relationships with consumers online through quality conversations, retailers can move beyond one-sided transactional engagements and inch closer to winning customer loyalty.

The comeback of physical stores

Online shopping may be here to stay, but in-store shopping won’t be going anywhere either. Physical stores, after all, still offer more product visibility, allowing consumers to see, feel, and test products before purchase.

With the easing of restrictions in the last months, consumers are inclined to engage in in-person experiences after a long hiatus. For a lot of consumers, buy-online-pickup-in-store is fast-becoming the preferred option as this addresses online shopping pain points including long delivery times and shipping costs, which can dampen the holiday spirit for shoppers in a rush. But that’s not to say that retailers can just take it easy this holiday season: consumers are becoming more intentional about their spending and demand convenience and exceptional service from retailers more than ever. This means consumers can easily get frustrated with long waiting times in-store, or late updates on the status

of their pickup orders. Given rising customer expectations, retailers can benefit from having an omnichannel communication strategy that boosts their ability to deliver excellent in-store shopping experiences. With access to data and information from customer interactions across all channels, offline sales agents can continue conversations in-store, and effectively recommend additional services and items shoppers may potentially be interested in.

Leveraging data to delight customers

With jingles and jangles left and right during the holiday season, brands that personalise emails and alerts using behavioural, psychographic and demographic data can better differentiate themselves from the pack. With 71% of Singaporean respondents inclined to talk to human agents over bots, retailers should focus on communicating with mindfulness – instead of sending automated messages that fail to factor in shoppers’ varied interests and preferences. Furthermore, 6 in 10 (61%) of global or Singaporean consumers are more likely to do business with a brand that allows them to start conversations over messaging. When these messages are sent, the channels used to deliver them matter in the new age of engagement. In Singapore, 72% of consumers are keen to make purchases over WhatsApp, with Facebook Messenger ranking second (40%), followed by Instagram (30%). Delighting customers through targeted messaging can create positive impressions, which translate to repeat purchases, brand loyalty, and word-of-mouth promotion.

What Singapore consumers don’t want in their shopping carts

Data privacy issues can easily turn holiday shopping into a nightmare. Implementing security precautions, including protecting and streamlining product registration, authentication, and recovery, can prevent hackers and data breaches from taking the fun out of holiday shopping.

Trust-based shopping means that consumers today are prioritising security as they interact with retailers through applications and communication channels. Retailers that don’t step up their security game with low-friction, strong customer authentication could potentially lose customers, who have become more conscious about sharing personal data. Besides protecting consumers, having a secure digital presence also protects retailers from online payment fraud –allowing them to enjoy holiday season sales with peace of mind.

One thing is certain: holiday shopping will continue to be an annual tradition in 2022 and beyond, with this time of the year heralding a season of gift-giving and countless sales events. Amid the flurry and excitement, there lies an opportunity for brands to refine their customer engagement and communications strategies, both online and in-store. In the throes of post-pandemic recovery, Singapore retailers that are able to connect better with shoppers during the holiday season have a higher chance of improving their bottom lines and finishing the year on a high – even as consumers become more intentional about their spending.

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Regional Vice President, Solutions Engineering, APJ at Twilio.
OPINION

EDVAN CHAN

How can Hong Kong organisations leverage on the benefits of AI for improved customer experience

According to the Census and Statistics Department in Hong Kong, the value of online retail sales increased by around 24 percent in the first half of 2022 as compared with the same period in 2021 which demonstrates how the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of online shopping. As a whole, Hong Kong is investing resources to enhance digitalisation and data-driven decision-making across businesses.

Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu has announced that Hong Kong will be promoting the development of innovation and technology by recruiting technology talents to support the growth of digitalisation. The central government is also facilitating Hong Kong’s involvement in national technology projects to promote the sharing of resources for the sector within the Greater Bay Area.

We observed that retailers capitalising on data analytics for microsegmentation for e-commerce sales achieved much better results when delivering personalised offers and targeted communications.

The new chief executive mentioned that he will lead the SAR government to press ahead at full steam with the development of innovation and technology in Hong Kong and promote the combination of industry chains and complementary development of Hong Kong and other cities in the Greater Bay Area.

"The government will build a vibrant innovation and technology ecosystem, speed up the development of smart cities and make Hong Kong an international innovation and technology centre." John Lee mentioned.

According to McKinsey, companies that excel at customer intimacy generate 40 per cent more revenue, with real-time personalisation delivering a return on investment (ROI) of five to eight times marketing spend and increasing sales by 10 percent. Those are big numbers for any retailer, but achieving them is easier said than done, especially with inaccurate data locked in multiple silos.

As artificial intelligence-based analytics continues to evolve, businesses can leverage significant amounts of data to create customer microsegments, which can harness specific details to segment at an even deeper level to deliver unparalleled personalisation. Yet, despite today’s modernisation capabilities, many businesses are still struggling to extract value from their data.

A survey found that only 34 per cent of APAC IT leaders understand how Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning boost marketing effectiveness. However, many leaders still recognise the value of AI and machine learning for creating a more personalised customer experience — with 77 per cent of respondents agreeing that it has helped them with customer relationship management.

It is crucial for Hong Kong organisations to leverage data and AI to identify patterns and insights from browsing and purchase data, enabling brands to deliver distinct shopping experiences. The first

two steps in boosting the power of your marketing programs are understanding how to extract value from your data and using AI to overcome the challenges presented by micro-segmentation.

Integrate your data

Effective micro-segmentation requires accurate and complete data. One problem in achieving this goal is that retailers often have several brands, each holding siloed and disparate data. Microsegmentation depends on a deep understanding of your customers. But you cannot get that with gaps in your data. Any flaws will inhibit your goal of delivering micro-segmented, personalised experiences to your customers.

The key to overcoming this problem is to consolidate all internal and external sources into one customer platform. Then you need to make the data easily accessible to your marketers.

Benefits of deploying AI

There are clear challenges for Hong Kong retailers in formatting their data for personalisation. However, for most companies the solution is within reach and simply requires modernising their data storage. How can AI help you to micro-segment your target audiences? By giving you the ability to achieve these goals:

• Share data between all areas of your business, so everyone has access to greater insights.

• Deploy visual data transformation to make it easy for everyone to understand data without code-wrangling

• Deliver highly personalised customer experiences based on deep data

• Recommend products based on data such as consumer purchasing history, engagement on social media and current trend

• Provide product recommendations that use contextual communication; for example, “It’s a cold day outside: try our limited-edition mint flavour hot chocolate."

Personalisation is the future of retail. But to get it right retailers need fast and easy access to accurate data. Data transformation and AI are leading the way. Thanks to data modernisation and the ability to access insights from large amounts of data quickly, marketers can provide highly personalised messages to consumers that potentially deliver a significant increase in sales.

Data-driven personalisation helps Hong Kong organisations optimise resources, like time and money, and instead divert them towards expanding intelligent applications and services. Cloud computing is an asset to decision-makers because it empowers organisations to harness data granularity, leaving out the ifs and buts to drive businesses down the path toward the front- and back-end efficiency.

48 RETAIL ASIA
OPINION
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