More than 600 global leaders from the retail industry are gathering in Singapore for the World Retail Congress Asia Pacific 2014.
Over the course of the Congress they will exchange knowledge, tackle issues faced by the industry and understand global trends and best practices. The main two-day event officially opens on Tuesday following a series of China-focused pre-Congress sessions.
The rising popularity of e-commerce in Asia is one of the key focus areas for this year’s Congress, which features speakers from Asia’s most talked about e-tailers, including Alibaba Group, Lazada and Zalora. John Spelich, Vice President, International e-Commerce Business Development at Alibaba Group will be speaking on Winning with a creative e-Commerce strategy in China during today’s pre-Congress China Focus day.
The first day of the main Congress day will see key sessions on Globalising e-Commerce: Expanding your online capabilities in new growth markets from the comfort of your local market and Gaining the competitive advantage through effective capture, management and analysis of Big Data. The second day will ask the question, What is the future of retail in Asia – Bricks or clicks?
One speaker at the Congress, Maximilian Bittner, CEO of Lazada Group, believes that 2014 could be the year that e-commerce truly takes off: “There is a real lack of retail presence outside the core urban areas in Asia, which makes accessibility to products for new consumers very difficult.
Online retail allows consumers based in rural areas to access products that they would not previously have found locally. In addition to this, logistics across Asia have significantly improved allowing much faster delivery times across the region. Interestingly, Singapore has been far behind in the e-commerce game, even as many other Asian countries have fully embraced shopping on their mobiles and tablets.
However this is now changing, high rental costs and manpower issues in Singapore are really hitting traditional retailers and we are now seeing an increased appetite for the convenience of e-commerce. Now is an exciting time for retail e-commerce players in Singapore.”
The Congress will also explore other ways that retail is turning digital, especially in its use of data. Brian Elliott, CEO of Periscope, a McKinsey Solution and Solutions Partner, McKinsey&Company, who will be speaking at the session on Big Data, believes that “In an increasingly competitive landscape, retailers need to get serious about using data and analytics for decision making.