The Singapore retail industry is facing challenging times. Retail sales are declining leaving more and more vacant spaces in the shopping malls. Consequently, this means a declining Retail Rental Index for the past nine quarters.
Retailers need to respond to customer expectations. They must recognize that customers are demanding a faster, better and more interactive shopping experience. Above all, this is the goal that they need to work towards.
Avoid the gimmicks
The market is jam-packed full of “solutions”, but many are gimmicky quick fixes rather than addressing the issues properly. This is leaving many retailers unprepared, still relying on tradition ways of selling and promoting their products. Ecommerce is disrupting this industry and retailers need find ways to ride the waves before they drown.
First of all, retailers need to acknowledge that customers product or brand discoveries now start online. Sophisticated customers now educate themselves online, assessing products, comparing price and benefits. Online customer reviews also matter even more. Marketplaces, online advertising channels, social media, and price comparison websites are all channels that retailers need to use. Savvy retailers recognise this and experiment by using the retail space as an experiential space.
Equipped with this knowledge, retailers need to set themselves up for multi-channel channel selling. The key to scale is automation. Retailers need to get their underlying processes and systems set up effectively.
The ‘to do’ list for moving online:
- Digitalising your product catalogue the right way
- Ensuring the IT systems link and are in real-time. You must have real-time stock visibility
- Put efficient fulfilment processes in place
- Get the right team in place or up-skill your existing workforce, and finally
- Choose a system that works for your business to automate processes for scalability.
The great thing is that the Singaporean Government recognises and supports the need for change. SG government looks to raise e-commerce sales to 10% by 2020. Financial support can be found through their SME go digital programme. It’s definitely worth checking this out.
One of the first and arguably most important steps in building a solid foundation is to have a comprehensive digital product catalogue (product data feed). This is all the information surrounding a product which is required to sell it online. This includes the product image, description, stock.
This can be used for a variety of digital sales channels including your own website , marketplaces or other digital advertising channels. This must be right. If done badly, it can require lots of costly IT attention to fix and cause all sorts of unnecessary headaches in the long run.
Uploading your product catalogue to a range of digital sales channels requires lots of manual input, as every destination has different data requirements. So, unless you have a large IT team in place you need to seriously think about how to manage this work. In Singapore, time and labour are not something that we are blessed with abundance. Therefore, getting the data right is the first essential step to transform a traditional retailer to an ecommce business.
CrescoData can help make your digital transition a less painful process. Contact us if you need help getting your products into a digital format. We can help with the initial upload of files and remove painful manual jobs such as image resizing. Once your digital product catalogue is ready, CrescoData can help to publish it to various marketplaces, Ad channels, shopping comparison and other automation engines or destinations for maximum brand visibility. All product, stock and price updates are automated removing the need for manual updates. You can also respond to business opportunities quickly by switching on new channels quickly
A house must be built on solid foundations for it to last. The same principle applies to the retail industry digital transformation.