Singapore’s unique opportunities and challenges

In his opening keynote, S. Iswaran, Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry, said ‘ASEAN is still a bright spot’ and Singapore is uniquely positioned as the launch pad for businesses to navigate the diverse consumer landscape in the region. He highlighted Singapore’s Retail Industry Transformation Map, which encourages retailers to use innovative technologies to improve productivity and the in-store experience for shoppers. He also asked the consumer goods businesses to embrace data and technology to drive innovation.

Seah Kian Peng, CEO of NTUC FairPrice, the leading retailer in Singapore, pointed out the unique challenges of Singapore being small and lack of scale, as well as the high labour and rental costs. He encouraged businesses to develop more efficient retailer operations, through the use of new technology and partnerships with other businesses, such as FairPrice’s relationship with Tesco.

Transformation to prepare for a digital future

Seah also looked at how retail and the consumers have changed and shared NTUC FairPrice’s customer centric transformation, which helped the retailer cater for different customer segments. He went on to look at the convergence of offline and online, and the retailer’s omnichannel initiatives to enhance customers’ experience.

Chia Song Hwee, President and COO of Temasek, an investment company headquartered in Singapore, said that technology has changed what the consumers value, and companies can create new ways of doing business with technology. Anthony Tan, co-founder and CEO of Grab, the leading ride-hailing group in Southeast Asia, showed the audience what the future could look like with consumers doing everything on their phones and inspired the audience to think of all the Grab cars as convenience stores on the go.

To help retailers and manufactures set a clear, consumer-centric vision of tomorrow’s online shopping experience, IGD and CGF have published The Online Store of the Future report. It reveals the digital store you need to start planning for now, with advice on where to build your business capabilities. 

People are the key to success

During his speech, Minister Iswaran spotlighted the importance of investing in people, especially in their digital capabilities. Seah from NTUC FairPrice talked about how the retailer freed up time for its staff and enabled them to be more service-oriented by deploying technology. Tan from Grab is empowering his team to have a growth mentality as a key factor to success.

Towards the end of the day, Guy Ryder, Director General of International Labour Organization, urged the industry to find a way to get together and design a future of work that people can trust and that will bring something positive for the business community. He also applauded The Consumer Goods Forum for yesterday’s call to action on forced labour and urged those in the room to commit to the CGF’s Priority Industry Principles.

We’ve had lots of food for thoughts on day one and are looking forward to hearing from the industry leaders from Coca-Cola, Alibaba, JD.com, Carrefour, Central Food Retail, Transmart, Procter & Gamble and others tomorrow.

Lee Green
Director, Communications
The Consumer Goods Forum
l.green@theconsumergoodsforum.com

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