Online presence can help retailers to stay ahead: Teo Ser Luck

Mr Teo, Minister of State for Manpower, speaking at the launch of a Retail Best Practices Masterclass programme yesterday at the NTUC Centre in Raffles Place. He urged retailers to take a hard look at their business models to remain competitive.
Mr Teo, Minister of State for Manpower, speaking at the launch of a Retail Best Practices Masterclass programme yesterday at the NTUC Centre in Raffles Place. He urged retailers to take a hard look at their business models to remain competitive.ST PHOTO: GERALDINE GOH

Singapore retailers should have an online presence to cater to changing consumer shopping preferences and to stay competitive, Minister of State for Manpower Teo Ser Luck said yesterday.

"Consumers now prefer to shop online as it enables them to shop any time, anywhere amid their busy schedules," said Mr Teo.

"Consumers are also more discerning. They expect more exciting products and innovative shopping formats. For example, showrooming where consumers examine merchandise in a store and then buy it online, and pop-up stores are becoming more common," he said.

There has been a blurring of lines between online and offline shopping with some retailers providing a seamless omni-channel experience from their online to offline stores, Mr Teo said. As such, he urged retailers to evolve quickly to meet - and exceed - consumers' preferences to remain relevant.

He noted that those who have been slow to adapt have seen declining sales growth. An increasingly competitive retail landscape and rising fixed costs have contributed to this, he said.

Mr Teo was speaking at the launch of a Retail Best Practices Masterclass programme to be jointly conducted by the Singapore Productivity Centre and Boston Consulting Group. The event was held at the NTUC Centre in Raffles Place.

Mr Teo said the softening of the global economy will add to the challenges faced by retailers in the light of rental and labour costs, as well as the costs of goods sold.

"Retailers will need to take a hard look at their current business models and product offerings - do you have product differentiation to generate revenue? Is your operational cost the most effective and optimised? Retailers have to explore new ways to operate in a more manpower-lean and efficient format."

Retailers, he stressed, should adopt more progressive and productive business models to stay ahead.

Mr Kelvyn Chee, managing director of Decks, a garment retailer, was the first to sign up for the first three masterclasses, which are two-day courses, beginning on Aug 29. "I would like to equip myself with new retail skills to optimise staff and outlet performance, and gain a competitive advantage in a very challenging retail environment," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 11, 2016, with the headline 'Online presence can help retailers to stay ahead: Teo Ser Luck'. Print Edition | Subscribe