Three factors to boost world retail industry

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Hong Kong: Three factors forces are shaping the world’s retail industry, according to global leaders of the retail industry.

Mark Millar, International Relations Committee chairman of the Hong Kong Logistics Association, said at the recently held Asian Logistics and Maritime Conference (ALMC) in Hong Kong that the world’s retail industry “is now being shaped” and directed toward three factors: Asia, online shopping and smart phones.

Asia is seen as the next super power of the world, because it has a fast-rising online consumer community with nearly 250 million online shoppers in China alone, which is expected to grow by 35 percent in the next three years.

Scott Price, president and chief executive of Walmart Asia, said that of the total 2.7 billion Internet users, a large part are in Asia with a 45-percent share compared to Europe’s 21-percent share. This translates to a larger online market potential and consumer pool in Asia.


Meanwhile, online shopping and the growing smartphone market could also fuel the expansion of retail industries.

Paul Teague, former Asia-Pacific president of the Net A-Porter Group, also said during the panel discussions at ALMC that an online presence is essential nowadays for retail businesses to survive.

He further said that in today’s context, luxury goods consumers are slowly going online despite the belief that online shopping only caters to “low-loyalty shoppers who like to spend and look for bargains.”

Teague said that online retailers should offer an extraordinary online shopping experience, and “interesting editorial content” to attract high-profile buyers to buy.

Teague suggested e-commerce firms to ensure products would arrive one time, and that there should be a “wow factor” for online products compared to physical shopping, because “online consumers are demanding” at present.

On the other hand, Michele Ferrario, Zalora Southeast Asia managing director, agreed that the whole e-commerce retail industry should focus on “last mile delivery,” and that retail firms with a presence online should handle direct last-mile deliveries than handing it over to third-party logistics.

“The cheaper the last mile, the cheaper the goods,” Ferrario said, also citing that online retailers should have logistics of their own to ensure last mile deliveries, especially to emerging markets mostly in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) countries.

Speaking before the ALMC retailing panel, Ferrario also said that online retailers should upgrade payment systems, “especially cash-on-delivery and bringing the cash back to the seller” to gain trust and attract customers to engage in online shopping.

The ALMC panel discussion called “Retail Revolution: A Brave New World” saw panelists from around the world discuss and share experiences to enhance global retail and the logistics sector, especially for the forthcoming Asean Economic Community integration in 2015.

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