As retail continues to be significant source of employment and economic strength in South East Asia, retailers in the region will face stiffer competition to grow their market share this year, according to executives at supply chain management solutions and services provider Manhattan Associates.
Retailers should strive to provide a high quality experience for their customers, even as they make sure they do not lose sight of profitability in order to remain competitive, said Scott Gillies, Director of Retail at Manhattan Associates, Asia Pacific. "Retailers who do not make their existing assets work harder whilst continually innovating on their service offering [in 2014...] will lose out through poor loyalty and lower sales," he added.
The following are five trends that Manhattan Associates believe will most likely influence the strategies of retailers in South East Asia this year.
1. Personal and profitable
As consumers are increasingly demanding personalised services, retailers need to ensure that they strike a balance between offering quality service and delivering orders profitably. Retailers can do so by deploying centralised order management systems to gain enterprise-wide visibility of inventory and customer transaction. By knowing exactly where their inventory is, to whom they can make it available and when the products will reach their customers, retailers can offer the best level of service to their customers.
2. Hyper targeting to change buyer behaviour
Most retailers today are using analytics to track their customers' buying patterns, such as the frequency of online visits they make, transactional spend amount, time period spent in store and preferred delivery method. Retailers should use this information to provide customers with personalised service and reward them for their loyalty.
3. Social shopping
The increased usage of instant messaging platforms and mobile commerce in South East Asia will see more shoppers in the region embracing social shopping. Retailers thus should effectively monitor their online channels to give themselves a head start on the customers' wants so as to maximise their sales.
Most retailers in the region are currently using social media platforms to post discount vouchers or photos to highlight their brand and products. Moving forward, they should start using these social channels as another retail channel to directly sell their products.
4. Faster fulfillment
Customers today demand a shorter order fulfillment process. To do so, retailers will need to have a 360-view of their channels to enable them to manage their inventory as a single, centralised pool and fulfill orders quickly and efficiently.
5. Greater synchronisation of back- and front-end systems
Retailers need to ensure that their back-end supply chain operations are better aligned and synchronised with their store, online operations and associated front end systems. This enables them to have higher visibility of their stock and data, improve product availability and order accuracy, reduce fulfillment costs and improve service levels-and thus, drive brand loyalty and revenue.
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