Technological innovation is sweeping across Asia’s retail sector at a phenomenal pace, according to international consumer goods researcher IGD, offering enormous potential for retailers and suppliers to better meet shoppers’ ever-changing needs.
Speaking at today’s China Chain Store and Franchise Association (CCFA) China International Retail Innovation Summit, Shirley Zhu, IGD Singapore Programme Director, offered five challenging areas for delegates to consider as they get to grips with the new technological reality emerging across Asia and beyond:
- Compatibility – “You are heavily invested in current technology and assets, but in most cases new solutions will need to work alongside existing systems.”
- Flexibility – “What is state-of-the-art today could become obsolete. Technology product lifecycles are increasingly shorter and spotting the winners is not easy.”
- Costs – “Return on investment is a key question but the bigger one is what are you trying to achieve – more new customers, increase revenue per customer, reduce the cost to serve – or all of the above?”
- Open source – “Small companies make up a large part of the industry, so open source or non-proprietary solutions may be more useful given the push towards interconnectivity.”
- Timing – “Do you wait for technology to be proven, and potentially lose that first move advantage, or do you move early so you can test multiple solutions?”
She said: “Technology can make shoppers more self-sufficient, with innovations such as self checkouts and unstaffed stores; it can digitise more of the work that happens on the sales floor, saving colleagues time with tools such as store management apps and electronic tags; and finally, it can power more of the key retail processes behind the scene, by reducing product waste, managing teams and getting the best out of merchandising and supply chain processes.
“From a consumer goods retail perspective, we’ve identified several technologies to watch that are already impacting the sector, or have the potential to, over the next few years: Internet of Things; voice assistants; virtual/augmented reality; artificial intelligence (AI); and Blockchain. While many will have an impact on consumer-facing initiatives, we also expect them all to have an impact on retailers’ efficiency and productivity drives.
“What is becoming clear is that the pace of change is faster than many retail executives expected,” she added.
Shirley concluded: “There’s no doubt that technology will play an even greater role in consumer goods retailing in the future and it is crucial that you are testing some of these innovations in your business – this is the new norm. However, I would urge companies not to try to be something they aren’t. Instead, be the best at what you are really good at. Watch and learn from the competition and stay close to the technology, as you never know where your next competitor will emerge from.”
Find out how grocery retailers are utilising technology globally by downloading our free report at: asia.igd.com/ccfa19
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Notes to editors:
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