The future of retail in Asia: insights from Aeon, NTUC FairPrice and SPAR

Low Lai Chow

"Retail used to be slow-moving and relatively boring," Jerry Black, senior executive vice president and chief strategy officer of Aeon, Asia's largest retailer, confessed to delegates at the World Retail Congress Asia Pacific 2014. "But now we're in a fantastic age of excitement."

With this heightened excitement, he admitted, comes an attendant challenge. "My challenge today is to address the future of retail, and how to address different consumers and their lifestyles. The changes are truly dynamic."

Until 2010, according to Black, Asian consumers typically looked for a strong product assortment, discounts, one-stop shopping, food safety, freshness and taste. Today, convenience and experience have joined this list – facilitated by the rise of ecommerce and the modernization of established local chains across the region. "The way the consumers shop provides the catalyst for us to change the way that we sell, and also the way that we present," he added.