BHG Singapore

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R E C OV E R I N G I N R E TA I L After a challenging two years, online consumerism in Southeast Asia is only growing. We take a look at BHG Singapore, and speak to Jheeva Subramanian, CFO, about the company’s plans for the growing digital market post-COVID-19 Writer: Marcus Kääpä | Project Manager: Vivek Valmiki

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BHG SINGAPORE RETAIL

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he Southeast Asian retail sphere is gigantic. With the tremendous rise of digital tools and widespread use of the latest technology, the future of retail is paved with potential across the region, and the digital sphere is being recognised as the most important aspect of consumerism at present. “Whilst the retail industry in Singapore is vibrant, we have a lot of catching up to do in terms of transformation, especially digital transformation. That makes it an exciting time to be here as there is a lot to do!” begins Jheeva Subramanian, CFO of BHG Singapore (BHG). “We are living in a unique period and retail in general is very

challenging at the moment, but despite this, it is a great time to be experimenting and discovering new business models. The ecosystem in Singapore makes it possible to experiment and work with cross industry partners to find innovative ideas.” According to Subramanian, there is also great government support for companies in the space, making it easier for businesses to innovate and grow in the industry. Well known within the region, BHG is a chain of department stores made up of three physical stores in Singapore and an e-commerce channel. “The Bugis store is our flagship location, and we have two more heartland stores in Bishan and Chua

Chu Kang,” Subramanian continues. “As a department store, we cover a varied range of categories from beauty, home and living, men’s and women’s fashion, children and baby products, toys, technology and sports, supported by 170 staff members across the HQ and our stores. “As a business, BHG was a very traditional department store. The business model of traditional department stores is becoming - if not already - irrelevant in the current digital era we live in. With the change in leadership team in 2019, we were tasked with transforming the business to adapt to the current climate and create a more sustainable business model for the future.” In light of this, it is the objective APAC Outlook issue 56 | 3


BHG SINGAPORE RETAIL

Hoolah The ShopBack Group is Asia-Pacific’s leading shopping and rewards platform, serving over 30 million shoppers across ten markets and powering over US$3.5 billion in annual sales for over 10,000 online and in-store merchant partners. As the market leader in demand generation, ShopBack has driven 450 million shopping trips to merchant partners in 2021. Beginning our journey as the first entry point for shopping, ShopBack is now closing the loop by being the last checkout point for shoppers as well.

BHG – AT THE CORE ONE TEAM – BHG celebrates diversity and believes that the sharing of skills, knowledge and experience is essential to building great teams. ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT – BHG believes in growing the business and people together, encouraging everyone to share ideas with a growth mindset. CUSTOMER FOCUSED – The company offers a great shopping experience by continually delivering new and exceptional value through its products and services. CARE FOR THE COMMUNITY AND THE ENVIRONMENT – BHG strives to be locally relevant and a positive member of the community by being socially and environmentally responsible. The BHG store will reflect the community’s culture and lifestyle.

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of BHG to ensure that the company brings a new shopping experience to consumers while ensuring that the business delivers quality products at affordable prices, in line with sustainability goals. “The aim of BHG’s transformation is to move from a traditional department store to a lifestyle centre, where consumers come to BHG for more than just to “buy a product”,” Subramanian says. “We want to add value to the shopping experience by offering personalisation, services, workshops, tutorials and a seamless shopping experience which is channel agnostic.”

THE FOUR-YEAR PLAN BHG’s aims are embodied by its fouryear transformation plan, which is made up of four phases. Although this plan has been somewhat disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, BHG is confident of its ability to catch up and keep to the intended timeline. “Phase One is to redefine the core business strategies, everything from people, physical store concept, marketing, digital transformation,

With ShopBack PayLater powered by hoolah, the Group aims to drive a new generation of customers increasing conversions, basket size, and customer loyalty for merchant partners by offering a flexible and convenient payment option for their shoppers via three zero-interest payments. Contact the ShopBack PayLater team at paylater.accounts@shopback.com to learn how we can accelerate our business growth together.


ShopBack leads the market in demand generation, driving 450 million shopping trips to merchant partners in 2021 alone. We’re already the first entry point for over 30 million shoppers in the Asia-Pacific. Now, by offering 3 zerointerest payments, we’ll also be the last checkout point - helping our partners increase conversions.

Grow with us - reach us at paylater.accounts@shopback.com


BHG SINGAPORE RETAIL

StarHub StarHub is a leading homegrown Singapore company that delivers world-class communications, entertainment and digital solutions. With our extensive fibre and wireless infrastructure and global partnerships, we bring to people, homes and enterprises quality mobile and fixed services, a broad suite of premium content, and a diverse range of communication solutions. We develop and deliver to corporate and government clients solutions incorporating artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, data analytics, Internet of Things and robotics. We are committed to conducting our business in a sustainable and environmentally responsible manner.

APAC OUTLOOK: POST-COVID-19, WHAT IS YOUR FOCUS FOR THE BUSINESS MOVING FORWARD? JHEEVA SUBRAMANIAN, CFO: “The continuous disruption caused by the pandemic remains the most challenging aspect for the retail industry. We are hoping that we get back to some type of normality soon. “The speed of our transformation is also key as the current department store model is quickly becoming obsolete. Moving to a new and sustainable business model is vital. “As a team, we are also focused on ensuring that the organisation is lean and agile enough to adapt to the changes in the industry, consumer shopping habits, technology and other factors that may need us to revise or tweak our strategies. We have been fortunate to have a group of passionate people working with us.”

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merchandising and more,” Subramanian tells us. “For example, our physical store strategy is to transform the stores into community engagement locations, with shopping becoming a consequence of this. “Phase Two is the introduction of digital elements into the business to support the strategies defined in Phase One. For example, how to blur the lines of offline and online using various technologies in store and online channels, introduce artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) for personalisation, and move towards a data driven business (predictive and prescriptive analysis).” Phase Three involves leveraging technologies and new strategies to develop new business models and revenue streams, in addition to the core business. “We aim to build an ecosystem that benefits us, our partners and more importantly, the consumers,” Subramanian explains. “Phase Four is designed to expand the company’s reach beyond Singapore once we fine-tune the business model. “The plan is evolving as we need to ensure that we are agile enough

Listed on the Singapore Exchange mainboard, StarHub is a component stock of the SGX iEdge SG ESG Leaders and Transparency Indices and included in ESG-focused FTSE4Good Index Series. StarHub is ranked as the world’s most sustainable Wireless Telecommunications Service Provider and Singapore’s most sustainable Telco, in Corporate Knights Global 100. StarHub strategic positioning and operating model is to move beyond telco to a Connecting your Digital World and Digital Services platform. We continue to roll out more digital and cloud-based product as we move from quad-play to Infinity Play. We are building digital and cloud platforms, moving our world class network forward across 5G, fixed network and cloud-based edge functionality to enable Anytime, Anywhere access to our customers across any device. Last but not least, StarHub will continue to serve our community here in Singapore, matching their values and providing the most enriching digital lifestyle experiences as well as the digital services that enable their own transformation.

www.starhub.com/business




BHG SINGAPORE RETAIL

to adapt to changes in the industry, technology, and other external factors, and will constantly refine it to forecast and cater to these changes. Transformation is a never-ending journey, and we need to be constantly reinventing if we want to be leaders in the industry. The ability to increase scale and scope at speed with lower investment than traditional expansion is also an area that we are looking at.”

“ I T I S A G R E AT T I M E T O B E E X P E R I M E N T I N G A N D D I S COV E R I N G N E W B U S I N E SS M O D E L S . THE ECOSYSTEM IN SINGAPORE MAKES I T P O S S I B L E TO E X P E R I M E N T A N D WO R K W I T H C R O S S I N D U S T R Y PA R T N E R S TO F I N D I N N O VAT I V E I D E A S ”

DIGITAL COLLABORATION

by leveraging on the data.” Payment partners have also been critical in BHG’s rollout of a seamless shopping experience. The company works with Adyen, a payment solution partner enabling a channel agnostic shopping experience and the deployment of BHG’s mobile POS, and Atome, a company that helps enable digital payments and new payment methods. “We are constantly experimenting with numerous partners on new ideas,” Subramanian continues. “A couple of the projects we are working on are an AI-based customer data platform in collaboration with DEngage, and we are also looking into how to embrace 5G in retail and its uses with partners such as Nanyang Polytechnic, Revez and Starhub.”

BHG is currently working alongside multiple technology partners to see through its planned business developments. “At present, we are working with Dynamicweb, who has helped us deliver a unified commerce solution and a Singapore startup called Protinus Group, that is assisting us in other digital transformation projects such as virtual stores, social and conversational commerce,” Subramanian says. “In addition to this, we are working with Scash, a company enabling marketplaces and marketing programmes, and MS Media, to integrate solutions such as the endless aisle, self-checkouts and digital kiosks to merge our online and offline presence. “A unified commerce solution was the key element in BHG’s digital transformation strategy. It is what I consider the backbone to everything we need to implement. For example, the solution allows us to have a unified view of data which enables a single view of the customer journey and inventory. This allows us to provide a more seamless and personalised shopping experience to our customers whilst allowing us to become a more informed business

– J H E E VA S U B R A M A N I A N , C F O , B H G S I N G A P O R E

BUILDING BACK FROM COVID-19 With the easing of the pandemic restrictions, BHG is hoping that the industry gradually returns to pre-COVID-19 levels and activity. “The focus this year is to continue our transformation plans – refining and strengthening the fundamental strategies, using the tools that we have

implemented, such as the customer data platform to offer a personalised and seamless shopping experience, and introducing solutions to achieve a channel agnostic shopping experience such as the live selling, virtual stores, endless aisle and selfcheckouts,” Subramanian informs us. “The key, however, is to start using data (which is now unified) to get a better understanding of our customers’ shopping patterns and habits and gain a deeper understanding of their needs and expectations. We need to ensure that we act accordingly to what the data is telling us. “We are also continuing with the revamp of our Home and Living floor in our flagship Bugis store. This is following on from the changes we made to our beauty floor late 2020. The revamp, as we did for the beauty floor, focuses on new brands, experiential retail, workshops and educational corners – lots of interactive points to engage the consumers. This increase in engagement, both in the physical stores and especially online, is the core of our aims moving forward.”

BHG SINGAPORE Tel: +65 6704 1304 laura_chongtan@bhgsingapore.com.sg https://bhgsingapore.com.sg APAC Outlook issue 56 | 9


BHG SINGAPORE 73 Bukit Timah Road #06-01 Rex House Singapore 229832 Tel: +65 6704 1304 laura_chongtan@bhgsingapore.com.sg https://bhgsingapore.com.sg

PRODUCED BY APAC OUTLOOK MAGAZINE