Innovation key to retail industry’s success

Friday, Mar 08, 2019 08:30

Speakers at the Indochina Retail Technology & Innovation Summit 2019 which opened yesterday in HCM City. — VNS Photo Bo Xuan Hiep

Renovation, innovation and disruption are the drivers that will help retailers integrate into the tech world and the creative economy, speakers said on Thursday at a retail technology summit held in HCM City.

More than 200 key stakeholders, decision-makers and technology leaders participated in the one-day Indochina Retail Technology & Innovation Summit 2019.

Nguyen Phi Van, executive director and founder of Retail and Franchise Asia, said: “To identify and execute successful renovation, innovation and disruption ideas, companies must keep a constant focus on the key drivers and influencers of the business, from the macro environment to niche consumer trends.”

“The most successful companies simultaneously go deeper in understanding their consumers and wider in seeking inspiration from adjacent industries and categories to find opportunities for growth, even in areas where growth appears impossible,” she told Viet Nam News.

Doan Ky Nam, COO of Maison Retail Management International Corp, said with double-digit growth in recent years and strong domestic purchasing power, the goods retail market of Viet Nam was highly attractive to investors.

Viet Nam should be able to achieve regional competitiveness by becoming a regional shopping destination by 2030, jumping to third from the current fifth position, he added.

According to a Maison Customer Survey, the key factors for attracting customers to a retailer are “mobility, advanced clienteling (keeping in touch with key customers) at all touch points, advanced loyalty, customer service and after-sales service, reliable same-day delivery, and four-hour delivery in major metropolitan districts or central business districts".

In addition, 30-day hassle-free returns, free delivery, and competitive pricing are also important factors that appeal to customers.

Marlena Polrola, customer relations management and loyalty consultant for Comarch, a multinational software house and systems integrator based in Poland, noted that "the future belongs to brands which are able to transition seamlessly between the analogue and digital worlds".

Empowered consumers

Empowered consumers are those who compare prices in-store via smartphones or on a price-comparison site on computers at least weekly, and read reviews in stores via smartphones or computers at least weekly.

Such consumers have interacted with a company via a social media post at least once, and have written a product review at least once, according to a Euromonitor International lifestyles survey.

Van said that retailers must embrace omnichannel retailing since empowered consumers expect convenient and experience-led shopping across digital and store-based channels.

The relationship between customers and retailers no longer ends with the transaction, she noted. Retailers must examine their post-transaction strategies to encourage reviews and deliver best-in-class customer services.

Retailers also need to identify their core customers, and understand why and how these customers shop to deliver the value the customer expects.

In addition, they should determine how to work in an environment where technology enables more customer touch points and a faster pace of change, and ensure that all processes, from marketing to customer service, are uniform, Van said.

In a world of information and price transparency, retailers should learn what differentiates them from others. This is guided by knowing the customer, and identifying the brand story and a plan for execution, she said.

Fast-growing market

Indochina, spearheaded by Viet Nam, is one of the fastest-growing and best-performing retail markets in the world.

With increasing disposable incomes, rapid urbanisation, and rising living standards, Indochina as a region is one of the most dynamic emerging economies in the world, especially in Viet Nam, Thailand and Myanmar.

Retailers, in particular, have also been drawn to the country by its relatively young population of consumers, of which 70 per cent are aged 15 to 64.

Viet Nam’s stable economic growth rate and a population of more than 90 million provide a promising foundation for development of the retail industry.

During the past few years, the country’s retail industry has seen strong growth rates, with retail sales growing by 60 per cent in the 2013-17 period, with $153 billion expected by the end of last year.

Today, department stores, shopping malls, supermarkets and convenience stores are rapidly expanding with the wave of e-retail.

In addition, the way consumers shop has changed drastically, and, with it, the structure of retail has had to adapt to embrace the omni-channel age.

As the industry continues to embrace the wider international community, multinational retail groups have taken active steps to penetrate the market.

The Indochina Retail Technology & Innovation Summit was the first retail technology-focused event in the region for retailers, shopping mall owners, developers, department store operators, supermarkets, convenience stores, e-retailers, suppliers, the media and IT, data and social marketing professionals, among others.

Hosted by Escom, an international business conference organiser focused on fast-growing Asia Pacific markets, the event aimed to help participants meet potential partners, source the latest technologies, and embrace innovations and trends.

The summit brought together retail professionals and innovators of all types under one roof. The interactive event was designed to allow a focused peer group of Asia retail executives to have the opportunity to network and discuss omni-channel best practices.

Key topics included Reinventing Viet Nam’s Retail Industry – Retail Tourism, Customer Loyalty in a World Dominated by Artificial, Exponential Technologies, Farm to Table and Omni-channel Retail 4.0, Retail in the Age of Empowered Consumers, and the Viet Nam Retail Market: Winning Formula in the Age of the Mix (Online-Offline-Omnichannel). — VNS

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