Retail in 2020 was a challenging game of survival for many companies. When Covid-19 pandemic strike, brick-and-mortar retailers in Singapore experienced a 70% decrease in sales. As a result, many businesses—from mom-and-pop shops to major retail brands—had to close for good.
Those left struggling to survive had to rely on government’s support packages to cope with the ever-changing restrictions. The government has also stepped up to provide ongoing grants and support to encourage retailers in adopting digitalisation.
This disruption has not yet ended: forward-thinking retailers understand that future success depends on implementing multi-channel strategies to encourage continuous buyer activity.
Retail businesses that already had online sales channels thrived during this period, with global e-commerce sales seeing a 19% rise in 2020. Online sales in Singapore, in particular, rose to an astonishing 151.2% year-on-year in June of the same year.
Physical Store Retail Sales (2020)
Global e-Commerce Sales (2020)
Global e-Commerce Sales (Jun 2020)
With these promising numbers, it’s little wonder why so many companies have gone digital. But none have gone all-digital. In fact, contrary to what some may have predicted, retail sales are not completely doomed.
As the Singapore economy gradually reopened after the 2020 circuit breaker, physical retail stores starts to show an upward trend in sales, normalising to 10-15% of total retail sales by the end of 2020. By contrast, online sales in July dropped to 12.6% of total retail sales compared to 25% at the peak of the circuit breaker.
Given these statistics, is digitalisation an endeavour that’s still worth pursuing? Will e-commerce still be a promising avenue years after the global pandemic is over, when there may be less of a need for online platforms once physical retail stores have fully re-opened?
To answer these questions, it’s important to view digitalisation as more than a band-aid solution. Rather, it should be treated as a long-term strategy that will benefit retailers for decades to come. This strategy can start with the steps we’ve outlined below.
Singapore boasts an 84% internet penetration rate as of 2019, with a whopping 93% going online every single day as of 2018. More and more customers also expect businesses to be accessible anytime, anywhere—24/7 and at their fingertips.
Additionally, today’s technology-savvy customers expect much more out of their traditional retail shopping experiences. They want the ability to quickly access all information about a given product or service while inside a store. Others want to place their orders on a brand’s online platform, then pick up their orders at a physical retail store.
But despite the conveniences of e-commerce, shopping at physical stores still remains appealing for consumers. Online retailers, for instance, have yet to match the in-store experience that customers appreciate.
Thus, brands mustn’t treat e-commerce and physical retail as completely separate and opposing channels. Instead, the optimal approach is to combine elements of both platforms to provide the best possible customer experience.
In short, your brand should embrace a truly omnichannel strategy. This entails running multiple channels while unifying them via a consolidated and streamlined digital system. Put simply, all channels should refer to one source of truth for inventory, sales tracking, and other important aspects of the business.
By employing an omnichannel approach, brands will not only become much more resilient to future economic challenges, but will also stand out from businesses that have yet to make digitalisation a priority.
For many traditional businesses, dealing with endless piles of paperwork is a common problem. And though some may have made the jump to digital file-keeping, the use of legacy systems still holds them back due to a lack of efficient automation and accessibility across users.
Indeed, the manual nature of most traditional business processes results in the creation of data silos between departments and less productive use of time and effort. This lack of visibility often leads to unnecessary duplication of efforts, data being out of sync or even outdated, or even security risks going unaddressed.
The good news is that all these headaches can be avoided by transforming your business with digitalisation. Digital workspaces can help your business break down communication barriers, transform employee workflows, and accelerate productivity.
Using platforms like Enterprise Application Solutions, for instance, can help automate time-consuming processes--enhancing your workers’ productivity and freeing them to focus on tasks that create value for your customers’ experience in your store.
With collaboration and content management solutions, employees can work together in real-time on the same files and be informed immediately of any changes. Service management software such as ticketing systems allows staff to see all concerns at a glance and stay updated on the status and history of each ticket.
Finally, a robust and complete customer relationship management system (CRM) lets you store customer data and follow through your customers’ buyer’s journey. This allows members of sales teams to view each lead’s status and coordinate with each other on closing deals, helping increase leads and accelerate sales.
An example of a business that benefited from our Enterprise Application Solutions is a hospitality operator in Singapore who carries multiple hotels and serviced residences under their management.
Because of implemented VPN restrictions, employees who worked out of the office couldn’t access the information they needed whenever they were on the go. On top of that, the business also struggled with its file management due to its file servers’ storage limitations.
The business also dealt with large amounts of paperwork and many manual processes. This greatly slowed down their approval process, which, in turn, caused their backlog to keep growing.
To address these issues, we helped the business implement a content management platform with user-customised department folders. We also integrated business workflows into the platform to streamline approval processes for bookings, leave approvals, finance approvals, and more. To allow employees to access the information they needed from this platform, we also developed a complementary mobile application that they can use even when they were out of the office.
a majority customer preference for retailers that provide offers customised to their particular needs. Put simply, customer conversion is more likely to happen when your retail content is relevant to their current context—including previous purchases, location, and browser history.
But before you can personalise your customer’s retail experiences, you need to know what they need from you--thus, you need to collect information about them.
With Big Data solutions, businesses can easily learn about their customers’ demographics, psychographics and shopping preferences. Our data intelligence service helps companies to collect, integrate and analyse all types of data, accelerating innovation, improving customer satisfaction, and increasing revenue.
Data sources management defines where information will come from, including but not limited to customer surveys, retail sales, online sales, and online searches. Data is then extracted from the sources, and prepared for machine analysis to determine customer behaviour or preference trends. Afterwards, this solution helps businesses to visualise data analytics via easy-to-understand business dashboards.
Data collected will have to be stored efficiently. With our solution, data storage management is optimised, allowing for larger storage capacities and faster data retrieval and processing, which is crucial for retail stores with large store inventories and lots of data to crunch.
Businesses can use these insights to develop more compelling online and hybrid retail experiences, such as virtual dressing rooms. These insights also allow businesses to craft more personalised marketing messages that resonate deeply with customers.
One example of a business that has benefited from digitalisation is a famous retail fashion chain in Singapore. The brand implemented software that allows customers to send feedback directly to the company’s design team. By allowing interaction between the designer and the consumer, the fashion chain was able to address any changes in consumer demand more swiftly. The company’s marketing team now monitors real-time worldwide sales and product trends based on customer search queries.
As mentioned earlier, retaining legacy systems puts your business’s precious data into siloes that are difficult to access. Unfortunately, it only takes one mistake to potentially wipe a drive or a server clean. Without a reliable backup solution, these siloes put your company at risk of losing all your data should you experience system failure.
Given how much of your business’s success relies on data access and analysis, it’s crucial to modernise your IT infrastructure. That being said, shifting to cloud computing can protect you from disastrous data loss thanks to built-in Backup-as-a-Service (BaaS) and Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS). You can make better and more informed business decisions by collecting and analysing data to improve business revenue while reducing security risks.
Even as you take measures to protect your data, implementing additional safeguards such as cyber security solutions can ensure more secure transactions and defend your company from advanced cyber-attacks. Such measures will also help your company adhere to compliance standards, protecting your customers’ sensitive information and your business’s most valuable data.
Digitalisation is a worthwhile investment for overcoming immediate challenges and for a brand’s success in the long run. For any business to survive, they must start thinking, as early as now, about how to integrate future retail solutions into their existing strategies. Only by doing so can they become resilient enough to withstand any unexpected economic storms moving forward.
That said, the process of digital transformation can be overwhelming, and you may not know where to start or how to even carry it out. Fortunately, you don’t have to do all of this on your own, as we at JOS are here to help.
JOS offers comprehensive end-to-end IT services and support for businesses looking to get started on their digitalisation journey. In addition to our digitalisation capabilities, we can also support your company’s evolving and growing IT needs over the long term.
Ready to start your brand’s digital transformation? Speak to us today.
Posted on: 31 Jan 2022
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