Magazines Archives - 2007 August

Singapore retailers ready for emergencies with human-techno solutions
Cover Story

Singapore retailers are taking the best of technology and human resources to create a safer and more secure shopping environment for their customers, reports Jolene Klassen.

Security and fire prevention is Ssetting in place prevention measures to ensure a safer environment for both retailers and their shoppers alike. While the industry recognises its humantechno collaboration, ensuring the business environment is secure, simply looking at the basics of setting up such systems is insufficient these days.

In Singapore, shopping is the heartbeat of the nation. As the economy continues to boom, one sector prominent in contributing and reaping its benefits is retail trade. According to a report by the Asia & Pacific Review, the city-state chalked up a gross domestic product (GDP) wealth per capita of about US$30,160 last year. Earlier this month, the Ministry of Trade and Industry reported that the Singapore economy grew by 7.6% in the first half of the year.

And as the tourism industry continues to flourish, with a new record of S$6.4 billion (US$4.1 billion) in tourism receipts and over 4.9 million visitors in the first half of the year, it is not surprising that the government continues to boost the retail industry with reinvention and incentives.

Singapore, known for its low crime rates, sees tourists and the locals alike flocking to many of the upscale shopping malls lining the streets from downtown Orchard Road to Marina Bay. Even the suburban malls in the heartlands are no less popular among shoppers from the nearby public housing estates and private residential areas.

Well-established international brands also seem to have planted their footprint on this metropolitan shopping haven.

Change of mindset

Despite the economic highs and the low crime rates, retailers in Singapore find that one of the concerns that top their list is security and fire prevention. Over the years, retailers have come to recognise that without taking measures to ensure their customers’ safety and peace of mind, the risks will not only harm the business assets, but also substantially increase the loss of customers who patronise the business.

However, studies on the importance of security and fire prevention, especially in the retail environment, have indicated that while security ranks high, it is not yet a prime concern for businesses. Many have adopted a ‘wait-andsee’ attitude, ensuring sufficient amount of security, just for peace of mind or compliance with government regulations.

Educating retailers is paramount when it comes to security and fire prevention. It is important, too, that while the authorities regularly enforce these measures through incentives and programmes, retailers themselves need to realise that security and fire-prevention regulations are more than mere compliance.

In order to ensure that adequate support is available to retailers at all times, the private and government sectors have come together to provide proper training and support for security officers. Taking a proactive approach, the government continues to ensure that the security industry is up to standard.

In July this year, a joint initiative between the Workforce Development Authority (WDA) and Temasek Polytechnic launched the Security Workforce Skills Qualifications, to meet the industry’s growing need for well-trained security personnel.

At the initiative’s launch, Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister, Wong Kan Seng, announced that amendments are under way to refine regulatory controls to the Private Investigation and Security Agencies Act. Once implemented, all private security officers will be issued individual licences stating that they meet the screening and training standard. The Home Affairs Minister further emphasised the important role that the private security industry has to play in order to maintain security efforts in Singapore.

Wireless gizmos

While manpower is one aspect of ensuring security within malls and retail outlets, technology too has come a long way and is now a much-needed component in daily business dealings. Similarly, retail crime by means of technology breaches have introduced society to the likes of identity theft and credit-card fraud, which are gaining momentum in the industry.

Without ensuring the proper means to secure networks and systems, its threat to retailers are becoming more pronounced today than perhaps a few years ago.

Setting up the proper equipment and integrating hardware with software works to the overall benefit of the organisation. In retailing, transactions take place on a daily basis, increasing the exposure of important information, particularly customers’ details and inventory. And as technology evolves, wireless networks have become the infrastructure that these transactions run on. Although convenient and efficient, the repercussions of a breach on wireless systems are more paralysing than retailers expect.

“Once you start going into wireless and no longer have a physical boundary, there’s every potential that someone you don’t know can be on your network,” warns Sujai Hajela, vice-president and general manager of Motorola’s Enterprise Mobility Solutions, enterprise WLAN division.

Fortunately, systems and devices are already on the market to further secure businesses that work on wireless networks. In 2005, a group of major credit-card companies established a standard of security guidelines, known as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), which is aimed at helping retailers prevent credit-card fraud and customer-identify theft. The PCI, Hajela adds, is a set of guidelines that retailers can follow, and is “an important first step to ensure wireless security”.

The benefits of such a standard, however, do not stop there.

Once the standards are in place, a breach or attack on systems and networks are immediately identified and recorded, and stored as evidence. Companies that are PCI-compliant, subject to the equipment that they use, would be able to retrieve the evidence it has stored.

The standard speaks for the company, telling investigators of the breach that measures were taken to secure their systems and networks, removing doubts that such attacks may have been internal. It also gives customers the peace of mind when making their purchases via credit and other cards, knowing that their personal data and information is more secure.

Government aids fire-safety measures

The Singapore Civil defence Force (SCDF) practises a performance-based approach towards fire safety, having sieved through the system after consulting with professional bodies and academics.

Under this system, the SCDF specifies the requirements and leaves it up to the architects to ensure that the measures are implemented into the building, giving them flexibility around the framework. On the other hand, to flout the regulations or compromise on these measures would mean hefty fines and penalties.

Even smaller retailers in Singapore’s heartlands are encouraged to be vigilant in taking note of potential hazards and danger spots. In April, the Cooperative of Singapore Civil Defence Employees (COSEM), which established itself as a private section of the SCDF, launched an initiative to work together with the heartland shop owners to keep their environment free from potential fire hazards.

The programme aimed to tackle passageway clutter in the heartland shops which may lead to fire and safety hazards. Dr Teo Ho Pin, chairman of the COSEM council, reiterates that the key point of the initiative is to ensure fire safety for shoppers and shop owners alike.

At the same time, SPRING Singapore, the national standards and conformance body, continues to review and update standards for building in the country. While standards are currently voluntary, they remain necessary as pointed out by Teo Nam Kuan, SPRING Singapore’s group director of quality and standards: “These standards aim to address the safety aspect which is also one of the major objectives in the Singapore Standardisation Strategy.”


2007 August Stories:

Singapore retailers ready for emergencies with human-techno solutions

Young Chinese exude high confidence, exert spending power

Vietnam’s retail scene abuzz with developments

Indon group does well

Beijing promotes payment by card ahead of 2008 Olympics

Brown Shoe expands into China via Hongguo’s network

Bharti, Wal-Mart seal joint-venture deal at last

Jerasia taps golf niche in M’sian retail

Epson centre in Singapore heralds more for Asia

Have data gun will travel

IBM SurePOS 100 gets eco-friendly with SME retailers

Nivea relieves dry skin with Smooth Sensation

Chanford brings in five leading eyewear brands

Osim gives calves, ankles, feet its therapeutic squeeze

Spinmatic’s new, improved formula is friendly to waterways

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