What’s The Future Like for Retail Stores in Asia Pacific?

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The growth volume for retail sales in Asia Pacific is forecasted to grow at six per cent in 2013, according to a 2012 PwC report. China is estimated to grow by 10.5 per cent in 2013, translating into beating the US as the world's biggest retail market by 2016.

Last year, the 2012 PwC study of 27 Cities of Opportunities, which included eight major cities in Asia Pacific, reported that revenue for the year drove past the $1.1 billion mark.

Now, it should be made clear that the Asia Pacific market has massive potential in staking its claim as the top destination for global retail chains, but the question is: what are the channels being adopted to ensure maximum and consistent growth?

For starters, Asia Pacific has the biggest appetite for mobile commerce. Research conducted by the SAP AG study for Asia Pacific discovered that 67 per cent of Asia Pacific users agree that a greater choice of payment methods would strongly encourage them to purchase from retailers. 70 per cent believed that mobile phones are instrumental in the payment methods of the future. As such, the days for traditional Brick-and-Mortar shops are numbered in Asia Pacific, especially with the surge of tech-savvy shoppers.

However, the explosive growth of big data taking place throughout the world calls for more omni-channel adoption. Consumers today aren’t just strictly limited to the confines of a digital screen. Rapidly evolving technologies, trends in social media, and growing consumer expectations are driving the demand for new strategies and solutions.

For example, I would still visit a retail outlet to try on a pair of shoes. This is so I could get the feel of them, avoiding disappointment by the false case of advertising in certain mobile commerce websites. Ultimately, the genuine consumer experience is fulfilled here instead of just satisfying an immediate need with mCommerce.

Hence, the future role of retail stores can be assessed with the integration of omni-channel in five simple dimensions:

1. Discovery:

Stores are natural venues for consumers to educate themselves on products by trying them out and chancing upon the glorified "hidden treasures." The element of discovery can potentially increase the value across multiple channels.

2. Entertainment:

Successful retailers provide an exhilarating experience that engages the shopper with an entertainment-focused venue. In this case, products will be less likely seen as commodities and long-term engagement will be derived from the customer experience.

3. Relationship:

A personalized service builds rapport and customer service in the form of human interaction is a trump card here. Brand loyalty is formed through the development of a positive relationship between the brand and the consumer.

4. Transaction:

An enjoyable transaction made with the assistance of a service oriented retail assistant or cashier remains to be in uncontested territory. The point of sale area provides opportunities for innovative and value-added services.

5. Fulfillment:

The key word here is delivery and unlike online or mobile channels, stores offer delivery in that same day. The instant gratification provided cannot be replaced just yet.

[Article by: Hanis Jazil] [Image: TechNet]

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