Retailers fight back in SE Asia

28 May 2013
SINGAPORE: Bricks-and-mortar retailers in South East Asia are responding to the challenge of online competition and investing in technology to win back customers, according to a leading industry supplier.

Manhattan Associates, the global supply chain optimisation provider, stated that developments in web, mobile and social commerce will continue to reshape the retail experience in the region over the coming 12 months.

Scott Gillies, director of retail, Asia Pacific at Manhattan Associates, said that online-only retailers had been the main beneficiaries of the ongoing retail revolution.

"However, traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers are starting to fight back by investing in services and technologies that will help them remain both profitable and relevant," he told Inside Retail Asia.

"They are implementing what consumers like about e-commerce into their stores at the same time as investing in their own online offer, and making the overall cross-channel shopping experience seamless for their customers," he explained.

Investment in multi-channel offerings was particularly strong in Thailand and the Philippines, where Manhattan noted that retail brands were devising innovative services to entice online shoppers, such as online gift registries or online shopping combined with in-store pickups and delivery services.

It suggested that additional options retailers could consider included pop-up shops, kiosks and other types of 'product-less stores' in order to improve the visibility of their brand.

Manhattan cautioned that such initiatives could "put stress on sub-optimised supply chains that are not using the proper technologies", but said effective implementation would differentiate them from online-only retailers.

With consumers increasingly expecting a seamless service across all channels, physical retailers were advised to optimise for mobile and connect all their channels in order to "obtain a holistic view of customer activities".

In addition, the ability to offer a consistently superior customer service across all channels would also be a factor in successfully combating the practice of showrooming, said Manhattan.

And in terms of technology, the optimisation provider warned that many retailers would need to "take a hard look at the legacy systems that they may have relied on for many years".

Many of these, it said, "simply do not support the new way of operating" in today's fast-changing, multi-channel retail world.

Data sourced from Inside Retail Asia; additional content by Warc staff
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