Competition challenges tertiary students to tackle problems in retail industry

The winning teams (from left) X-3 from Temasek Polytechnic, Commersseurs from NTU and NUS, and Biodynamic from NTU, NUS and SIT. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - A subscription service for emergency firefighting supplies, a mobile app for gig workers and a reusable grocery delivery crate were the top three projects in a competition to solve issues faced by the local retail industry.

The SRA Retail Reimagined Innovation Challenge 2022 was organised by the Singapore Retailers Association (SRA).

The winning groups - Team Commersseurs, Team X-3 and Team Biodynamic - were picked from 42 teams comprising 163 members from 11 institutes of higher learning in the preliminary round, which took place in June.

They presented their projects in the final round on Tuesday (July 12) to a judging panel comprising representatives from SRA, Enterprise Singapore and retail companies.

For the competition, SRA worked with 10 partners from the retail industry to develop challenge statements, including how retailers can leverage e-commerce and digitalisation, and how they can adapt to changes brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The partners included supermarket chain FairPrice, emergency products store EmergencyBiz and perfume store Scent by Six. Each team had to submit a solution for one of the 10 prescribed challenges.

The finalists were judged according to four criteria: effectiveness, feasibility, viability and the quality of their presentation.

The winner, Team Commersseurs, comprised Ms Teng Ting, 22, Mr Chua Jia Sheng, 25, and Mr Chng Chun Kang, 25, from Nanyang Technological University (NTU), and Ms Tan Xuan Wen, 22, from the National University of Singapore (NUS). They impressed the judges with a marketing pitch for emergency products using a subscription-based business model.

(From left) Mr Chng Chun Kang, Mr Chua Jia Sheng, Managing Director of EmergencyBiz Pte Ltd Eric Loh, Ms Tan Xuan Wen and Ms Teng Ting. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

The team won $5,000 in cash and $2,000 worth of shopping vouchers.

It proposed that households subscribe to a plan, priced between $8 and $15 monthly, which includes a fire extinguisher, medical aid kit and lessons on how to use the equipment to douse a fire.

SRA council member Jason Lee said: "What stood out for us about their project was that they weren't just dreaming for the moon... but were mindful that their project was applicable and executable."

The competition showed the students real-time challenges faced by retailers.

Mr Alan Yeo, director of retail and design at Enterprise Singapore, who was also the guest of honour at the event, said: "Competitions like these are important because they help retailers work with the community to inspire and come up with out-of-the-box solutions, and tackle problems with fresh perspectives."

The second prize went to Team X-3 from Temasek Polytechnic, which developed a mobile app that connects gig economy workers such as delivery riders and sales staff with retail brands to deal with manpower shortage.

The third prize winner, Team Biodynamic from NTU, NUS and the Singapore Institute of Technology, partnered FairPrice to devise a system using reusable crates instead of plastic bags to pack online delivery orders of grocery items to reduce packaging waste.

Team Commersseurs' Mr Chua said his group plan to kick off their project soon by acquiring seed funding from private investors and see it through to execution.

Referring to the recent spate of fires, he said: "We think that fire safety is a very real concern... With our project, we hope that people and property lost because of fires will become a thing of the past."

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