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Magazines Archives - 2011 June

S’pore retailers improve efficiency with retail technology
Story 4 - Focus

Despite the slow uptake, retailers in Singapore are no longer shying away from deploying technology in their stores. At the same time, some retailers are beginning to step out of their comfort zone, adopting various technologies that can not only improve their store fit-outs, but also help boost productivity by streamlining operational efficiency.

One such retailer is local department store Robinsons of the Robinsons Group, owned by Dubai-based Al- Futtaim Group. The Robinsons Group operates three retail brands — namely Robinsons, John Little and Marks & Spencer in Singapore and Malaysia. The group has invested in a B2B (businessto- business) system, which integrates its suppliers with its network to streamline order processing.

“Traditionally, a lot of manual intervention, data entry and verification are required for the entire [procurement] process. And if one looks at the whole process, there are only three variables: S’pore retailers improve efficiency with retail technology Robinsons deploys handheld solutions on its shopfloor to receive and replenish items on the shelf, making the task less laborious for floor staff. item code, cost price and quantity. Should any of these be different, it would create a lot of error verification, taking a lot of time and distracting the staff from their intended roles,” Shia Yew Peck, Robinsons’ general manager of finance & administration, explains.

With the company’s new B2B E- Hub system, which began its pilot with seven suppliers in 2009, Robinsons is able to interface its basic spreadsheet data to generate an order that is routed and translated through the company’s EC-Client and sent to its supplier.

“The supplier can also choose to interface our order with its ERP system, which means it does not need to do additional data entry on its end,” Shia continues, noting that this not only saves a lot of time, but also removes the element of human error, increasing productivity and, ultimately, boosting sales for the company.

“Automating the process eliminates the additional time spent … and that itself allows us to push goods faster to the selling floor. The shorter procurement time means that instead of taking three days to complete the whole order, it can now take only 10 minutes,” he maintains.

The platform also allows the retailer to facilitate data sharing so that suppliers are able to know how much of their product moves onto the shelf, and plan stock replenishment more effectively, Shia elaborates.

Mobile retail solutions take the stage

Technology deployment is not limited to the company’s back-end B2B system. Robinsons also deploys handheld solutions on the shopfloor to receive and replenish items on the shelf.

“Replenishment becomes less laborious because all the floor staff need to do is to scan the item’s barcode, key in the quantity they need to order, and it automatically gets transmitted to the system,” Shia adds.

Meanwhile, local home improvement group, Home-Fix DIY Pte Ltd, is planning to introduce the use of tablets on the shopfloor in order to enhance the customer’s shopping experience.

Malaysia: Malaysian retailers enjoy the convenience of mobile technology, 1st 10 paragraphs

Consumers are going online to hunt for deals, armed with smartphones and tablets to help them make informed choices when shopping or looking for a restaurant to dine in. Although Malaysians have not reached the sophistication of Japanese shoppers — who can use an app on their smartphones to check the freshness of produce in the supermarket — their usage of mobile technology is slowly catching up.

Perhaps the best and most sophisticated example is Air Asia, which has a service allowing travellers with smartphones to check in from almost anywhere, any time from seven days before the flight to just four hours prior to the scheduled departure time.

Sakae Sushi — a Singapore- based restaurant chain with 12 outlets in Malaysia spread across Penang, Klang Valley and Selangor — has its own patented in-house computer software for diners to place their orders, using a mouse or touchscreen.

Customers navigate an interactive menu with pictures and brief descriptions of every item on the menu. They can then place their orders through the computer. This goes straight to the kitchen, thus cutting down on the time taken to place and prepare the orders.

The use of the iPad in restaurants is still limited; interestingly, one fairly new Japanese restaurant in Kuala Lumpur, Ishin, has its menu on an iPad. There are more than 10 in the restaurant, and although it provides the pleasure of “leafing” through the menu for customers, the orders are still taken down manually and sent to the kitchen.

Mobile technology usage is in every aspect of Mei-Li Tan’s restaurant business. She has an online ordering system for Go Gourmet, a catering service, which delivers fine cuisine to customers’ doorsteps. “It is easy to use: the customer registers online, proceeds to order from the menu there and goes through the usual payment gateway. It has been effective,” says Tan. Go Gourmet, too, takes orders on the iPad.

Tan also owns three wine and dine places: The Social in Bangsar and Changkat Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur; and El Meson in Bangsar. “We create an e-leaflet and do an e-mail and SMS blast for all the restaurants. We also upload it on Facebook, although we are not so active on Twitter.”

The restaurants are also on foursquare, a mobile social-networking service. Customers can check in on El Meson on their smartphone, earn points and badges, and become a “mayor” of El Meson through foursquare.

“If you are the mayor, you enjoy special prices and may get an extra pint of beer free. For instance, we are doing a promotion for The Social at Bangsar, where if you and three of your friends check in [at the bar] and order two pints, you get two pints free. Chances are they will take up the offer and stay on in the restaurant. It’s our way of introducing the restaurant to them,” explains Tan.

The enterprising restaurateur has introduced a competition on Facebook to draw new members to The Social. “You can come to the restaurant, have pictures taken with your friends and upload them on Facebook. Ask your friends to ‘like’ The Social page and your photo to vote. The picture with the most votes will win a free beer every day for a year. There’s a winner for each outlet,” says Tan.

Philippines: Philippine SME retailers harness the power of mobile technology, 1st 10 paragraphs

In the world of mobile technology, the Philippines is an undisputed leader. With 45 million mobile-phone subscribers sending about half a billion text messages a day, it is not the texting capital of the world for nothing.

Given the Filipinos’ unparalleled usage of the mobile phone, it is only natural for Philippine retail companies to also tap its power to improve their businesses, be it in keeping track of daily sales, reaching out to existing and potential customers or negotiating with partners and suppliers.

Body care and fragrance chain Zen Zest is one such retail company that is harnessing the power of mobile technology to maximise the 10-year-old company’s full profit and growth potential.

According to Zen Zest owner and CEO Michelle Asence-Fontelera, mobile technology business solutions provided by Globe Telecom — a joint venture between local conglomerate Ayala Corp and SingTel, a Singaporebased telecommunications company that is regarded as one of the largest mobile network operators in the world — have provided her company with a tremendous boost.

“Mobile technology has been a big help to Zen Zest because our sales manager is able to constantly communicate with all our 104 store supervisors. We require the supervisors to text their sales thrice a day so that we know the status of their daily sales. We can then call them and ask what is wrong if sales are low,” says Asence-Fontelera.

“This strategy has helped a lot in bringing our sales figures up as compared to before when supervisors would only text their sales at night. Now, they are more pressured to make high sales. Also, when our systems were not as high-tech as today, there were a lot of times when I lost money in the business because of lack of technology. It’s not a problem now,” she adds.

Asence-Fontelera, who started the company as a home business, now has over 100 Zen Zest outlets and a product line that will soon be available in the US. At the same time, her Globe mobile phone helps Asence-Fontelera stay in touch with her franchisees as she receives their product orders mainly through text messages. This business tool has helped her run and grow her business both here and abroad, while managing her home and family life.

Richard V Sanz, president and CEO of FoodAsia Corp, says its brands, Bibingkinitan and Bar-B-King, rely heavily on mobile technology for store operations and logistics.

“We maintain more than 300 mobile lines for our stores, logistics personnel, and key staff and executives. Mobile phones are used for store and inventory monitoring, daily [clocking in] of employees, tracking of logistical personnel, among others,” reveals Sanz, who oversees about 300 Bibingkinitan and Bar-B-King branches all over the country.

For Sanz, the biggest benefit of using mobile technology is the company’s ability to connect in real time to stores, staff, managers and delivery trucks. Possible problems that crop up are thus immediately addressed and decisions are made faster because information comes quickly and reliably.

To view full story, get a copy of Retail Asia. To subscribe, please download the subscription form from http://www.retailasiaonline.com/subscription.html 



2011 June Stories:

Robust global consumer sentiments despite clear and present dangers Guarded optimism needed for Asian retailers …

Panasonic forging ties towards a seamless, digital future

Cards Asia 2011 ‘bigger’ and ‘better’ than before

S’pore retailers improve efficiency with retail technology

Anuga 2011 – a ‘giga-networking’ event for F&B professionals

CRC creating an iconic Bangkok landmark – Central Embassy

Aeon to expand in China, SEA

S’pore’s NETS targets China’s fast-growing e-shopper market with new service

Retail real estate spurs growth in Indonesia’s property scene.

Starbucks takes ownership of outlets in key Chinese cities.

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