Retail association charts road map to boost shopping experience

The road map will help position retail as an attractive industry by 2025. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A ground-up industry transformation map by the Singapore Retailers Association (SRA) will support retail businesses in creating feel-good and personalised retail experiences, and help position retail as an attractive industry by 2025.

The road map, unveiled at the 21st Annual SRA Retail Awards Gala Dinner on Friday at the Sands Grand Ballroom at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre, was developed by SRA in collaboration with more than 50 companies.

It focuses on four pillars: promoting the diversity of shopping experiences in Singapore; supporting retailers in experimenting with retail experiences; building connections with customers; and building an ecosystem for collaborations.

SRA president Ernie Koh noted that the Covid-19 pandemic caused a major disruption in the retail landscape in Singapore.

“We felt the need to set out an inspiring and transformative road map for change to help and inspire retail organisations to chart a path forward for growth and success,” said Mr Koh.

He added that the road map will also align with Singapore’s larger Retail Industry Map 2025.

In October, Enterprise Singapore (EnterpriseSG) unveiled an updated industry transformation map (ITM) for the retail sector, with a focus on areas such as helping Singapore brands go abroad, encouraging new experiential concepts and grooming local talent for quality jobs.

For instance, EnterpriseSG will work with more e-commerce platforms to give local brands access to customers and markets in South-east Asia and beyond. It will also partner the Singapore Tourism Board to promote local brands overseas.

Companies will get more help via training programmes to upskill and reskill workers in emerging retail roles such as digital marketers, data analysts, brand managers and product designers.

While the ITM is a longer-term vision for the industry, SRA’s road map is more focused on issues in the ITM that can be tackled in the more immediate term, and what can be achieved through the industry body’s own efforts.

“It’s the responsibility of the industry to determine what we should be tackling first,” said Mr Koh, adding that the SRA road map is a work plan with tangible outcomes to realise the ITM.

The development of SRA’s road map involved members and their employees from the different management rungs within retail organisations, including landlords, government agency representatives and key stakeholders.

Among the strategies proposed by SRA, one focuses on being more people-centred, which is integral to the retail business. The strategy aims to build positive emotional experiences and connections, both within the workforce, and with customers.

Mr Saurabh Mangla, founder of custom furniture company Ipse Ipsa Ipsum, welcomed the SRA’s road map and said his business can tap the people-centred focus, for example.

“In terms of... reskilling, the days of having a salesperson are over... You need storytellers who need to be empowered with technology, and I feel the road map addresses that,” said Mr Mangla.

As his company is a small and medium-sized enterprise with a focus on the multi-channel shopping experience, and which uses augmented reality, the other strategies proposed in the road map – such as an ecosystem of collaboration with other businesses – will help his business scale up, he said.

Mr Koh said: “We hope that (the SRA) road map will be an aspiration for Singapore retail to bring about an innovative wow factor to the shopping experience aided by technology solutions, and delivered with a customer-first mindset.”

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.