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Retail focus in Singapore's shopping paradise

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Singapore has long-been hailed as a shopper’s paradise and for good reason. The high urban density and the number of shopping malls and departmental stores dotting the republic makes shopping a national sport, especially driven by residents’ high disposable income and tendency to stay in air-conditioned comfort indoors due to the humid weather. The country’s iconic Orchard Road has often been compared with Paris’ Champs Elysées and New York’s Fifth Avenue. Underlying the sector however is a drive to bring the country’s sector towards higher productivity to reduce reliance on labour, and for retailers to be more competitive using technologies. Business Sweden together with the Embassy of Sweden in Singapore organized two retail seminars in 2015 and 2016 to showcase successful Swedish solutions and share best practices with the retail community.

Despite the glitzy malls and shining billboards, the retail sector in Singapore face challenges and decreasing footfall. Impacted by consumer confidence and the economic downturn, the retail sector is currently undergoing a shift towards increasing productivity and innovation. Retail chains and local establishments of various sizes are increasingly pressured with increased competition and operational costs, driven by high rental and labour expenditures and inefficient operations. Sweden has also been through that stage and successfully reduced its reliance on labour through smart implementations of technology within the retail sector.

Building networks within the retail community

Business Sweden Singapore initiated the inaugural retail seminar with the objective of building a close-knit community within the retail sector that fosters best practice sharing in order to achieve sustainable and productivity-driven growth. Together with local partners knowledgeable in the retail sector, Singapore Productivity Centre and Singapore Institute of Retail Studies, successful Swedish brands within the retail sector were invited to speak on case studies, challenges and experiences in other markets within a half-day seminar format at the Swedish Residence in Singapore.

Attended by major international brands such as Chanel and Sephora to successful Singapore retailers such as Charles & Keith and even supermarket chains for example the Dairy Farm Group, an interactive discussion and follow up collaborations were fostered successfully. In the second year, a similar set up was organized with different speakers and topics that address current market sentiments. The seminar was also organized in the Malaysian market due to popular demand.

Unique branding opportunity and sales lead generation

Company representation from the Swedish retail sector for example Ikea (home furnishing giant), AdvanIDe – Assa Abloy (RFID solutions), Axis Communications (security cameras and in-store customer activity tracking), CashGuard (cash handling solutions), Gunnebo (cash handling solutions), Pricer (electronic shelf labels) and QMatic (customer experience and queue management solutions) provided a variety of insights into how technology can streamline in-store operations in order to reduce risks and increase profitability for retailers. 

The companies had the opportunity to brand themselves as Swedish retail leaders and many participating companies received excellent sales leads as an outcome of the seminars. “We are pleased with the retail seminar organized by Business Sweden and other partners which provided an excellent platform for networking and allowed us to speak directly with leading retailers in the market. We met strong interest from the retailers on how Axis video analytics solutions can be used for store optimization, improved operations and customer satisfaction”, says Mr. Magnus Zederfeldt, Regional Director South Asia & Pacific at Axis Communications.