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5 retail trends to watch in Southeast Asia in 2014


As the next generation of shopper becomes ever more demanding, retailers must place the customer experience at the forefront of their retail strategy. And, while striving for a high quality experience, they mustn’t lose sight of profitability.

These are among the predictions for the retail industry in 2014 that global supply chain commerce solutions provider Manhattan Associates released recently.

“To survive and thrive in 2014, retailers need to make their existing assets work harder while continually innovating on their service offering. Those that don’t will lose out through poor loyalty and lower sales,” said Scott Gillies, Director of Retail at Manhattan Associates, Asia Pacific.

Major cities in Southeast Asia continue to regard retail as a significant source of employment and economic strength and retailers across the region are engaged in a fierce battle to grow their market share. Here are five trends that are likely to influence the retailers’ strategies in Southeast Asia in the year ahead:

1. Personal and profitable

Consumers today expect a personalized and fast service. They expect retailers to deliver a wider range of products, faster, and in a more targeted way. Retailers must ensure that they strike the right balance between offering high levels of customer service and delivering orders profitably.

A key advantage is enterprise-wide visibility of inventory and customer transactions via the deployment of centralized order management systems. Embracing such technology will allow retailers to know exactly where their inventory is, to whom they can make it available and when it will get there, regardless of which channel is calling for it. This in turn will allow retailers to offer the best level of service to their customers.

2. Greater synchronization of back- and front-end systems

On the one hand, retailers in South East Asia will continue to focus on ensuring their back-end supply chain operations are fully optimized and streamlined. On the other, they will also increasingly look to ensure these back-end processes are much more aligned and synchronized with their store/online operations and associated front-end systems. This will help improve product availability and order accuracy, reduce fulfillment costs, and improve service levels.

3. Faster and more flexible fulfillment

Customers want their purchases – and they want them now. Few retailers are currently offering next day delivery to customers, two-hour click-and-collect, or ship-from-store services. For this to be possible, retailers need to have a 360-view of their channels, know exactly where their stock is and be able to see where the demand is coming from. Omni-channel retailers with this 360-degree insight into their inventory and customers will seamlessly be able to view product availability across channels, and dispatch and fulfill orders both quickly and profitably.

4. Social shopping

The increased usage of instant messaging platforms, along with the surge in mobile commerce in Southeast Asian countries will see more shoppers embracing social shopping. But the next development of this is likely to be retailers using social channels to take customer orders. Few larger retailers have capitalized on the opportunity of selling directly to their social channel audiences. Engagement has so far been driven by photos or discount vouchers rather than direct orders – something we are likely to see change this year as retailers become keener than ever to differentiate themselves from competitors. Those retailers that will succeed in this difficult market are those that see social media as another retail channel.

5. Hyper targeting to change buyer behavior

Data analytics in the retail sector is now so advanced that customer transactions, online conversations and shopping habits can now all be absorbed by retailers in real-time, so brands can understand better how to service their customers. Frequency of online visits, transactional spend amount, time period spent in store and preferred delivery method can all be tracked. Retailers need to use this information to their advantage to provide customers with a personalized service and to be able to reward them for their loyalty.

From: Retail in Asia

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