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IMDA Singapore announces new innovative initiatives under Retail ITM and launches the Retail Industry Digital Plan

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) in Singapore announced new innovative initiatives in line with the Retail Industry Transformation Map (ITM). The retail ITM was launched in 2016 and it contains key strategies to support sector transformation, including a focus on innovation and the adoption of new technologies to drive productivity, as well as staying agile and responsive to trends in jobs and skills. The retail industry in Singapore includes about 22,000 establishments, contributing almost 1.4% to Singapore’s GDP and employing approximately 3% of the total workforce in Singapore.

The new Innovative Initiatives will focus on creating better customer experiences in both online and offline retailing.

Physical Retailers to participate in Omni-Channel Retail and Integrated Digital Ecosystems

IMDA and SPRING will work closely with retailers and other industry stakeholders such as wholesalers, logistics companies and e-commerce marketplaces, to create solutions that can enable more traditional retailers to go omnichannel.

By equipping retailers with the capabilities to transact online and fulfil deliveries efficiently, they can complement their physical shops with online channels to stay competitive.

These solutions will enable retailers to become more visible to consumers that are within their vicinity, thereby increasing the probability of making a sale through superior delivery lead-times and customer familiarity. They will also allow retailers to manage inventory, receive orders and publish products onto ecommerce platforms and expose retailers to new business models by integrating digital platforms.

For example, by integrating e-commerce and federated locker platforms, retailers will have the option to house these lockers at their shops to increase customer footfall.

From a consumer’s perspective, they will enjoy greater convenience with a wide selection of products to choose from when shopping online from retail shops that are nearby. Consumers will also be able to enjoy faster delivery lead-times and purchase from shops that they are familiar with within a precinct.

The 99%SME Collaboration

The 99%SME campaign was jointly launched by DBS and Singtel to help SMEs venture into e-commerce through the 99%SME e-marketplace. An MOI has been signed between IMDA, DBS and Singtel to collaborate and strengthen 99%SME as an e-commerce marketplace to help more physical retailers to go onto omni-channel retailing.

The MOI aims to do the below:

  • Help more physical retailers go into omni-channel
  • Enable physical retailers to sell products on e-commerce marketplaces and be provided with tools to transact, accept payments and fulfil orders
  • Develop applications to on-board physical retailers onto the e-commerce marketplace, complementing their physical shops to create a seamless omnichannel experience for their customers
  • Drive efforts to develop the 99%SME campaign into a self-sustaining business entity that can commercialise and market its solutions and services to regional countries.

Better Customer Experiences at Shops, Malls and Neighbourhoods 

To enable richer, immersive customer experiences, IMDA and SPRING will focus on the use of digital technologies such as sensors, robotics, augmented/virtual reality and artificial intelligence for greater personalisation for consumers. For example, if customers are unsure of what to purchase, a kiosk or device could suggest what to buy based on a list of questions. This will be done for shops, malls as well as neighbourhoods.

For instance, IMDA and SPRING will work together with the Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SMCCI) and One Kampong Gelam to co-develop a digital roadmap that will enhance the digital capabilities of merchants in the neighborhood of Kampong Glam, heritage area and transform the visitors’ experience in Kampong Glam, catering to both locals and overseas visitors.

Credit: Erwin Soo/ CC BY 2.0

This roadmap is expected to be completed in the next 3 months. An MOI has been signed between IMDA, SPRING, SMCCI and One Kampong Gelam to collaborate to develop a digital vision and roadmap for the neighbourhood.

The objectives of the MOI include enhancement of existing IT infrastructure at Kampong Glam to support upcoming technological implementations and empowering retailers in Kampong Glam to go omni-channel, equipping them with technological capabilities to uncover new opportunities and revenue streams. Precinct-level technology solutions will be deployed to transform the visitors’ experience in Kampong Glam, catering to both locals and overseas visitors.

Retail Industry Digital Plan

The Retail Industry Digital Plan (IDP) for SMEs was released today, alongside the launch of the Industry Transformation Map (ITM) for the Infocomm Media sector. he creation of IDPs under the SMEs Go Digital Programmewas announced in this year’s budget by Finance Minister, Mr. Heng Swee Kiat. Earlier this week, the first IDP was released for the logistics industry.

The Retail IDP has been developed by IMDA in partnership with SPRING Singapore (SPRING), to guide SME retailers on their digital transformation effort. SMEs can use the guide to assess their digital readiness and identify digitalisation opportunities relevant for their businesses, as well as identify skill gaps to support their digitalisation.

The Retail IDP is a living document to be updated over time as digitalisation of the industry progresses and new technologies are introduced and made relevant for the sector. It is meant for local SME retailers in sub-sectors, including supermarkets and convenience stores, fashion and sporting goods, consumer electronics, department stores, jewellery & timepieces and furniture & household products.

The Retail IDP for SMEs comprises: 1) An industry digital guide, including a self-assessment checklist; 2) A list of pre-approved digital solutions and various assistance channels; 3) Projects co-created by IMDA and industry leaders to uplift whole sector; 4) A skills framework.

The industry digital guide provides a reference on solutions relevant for SME retailers across 3 stages: “Getting Digital Economy Ready”, “Growing in the Digital Economy” and “Leaping Ahead”.

In Stage 1, ready-to-go digital solutions will be identified to enable automation of front-of-house operations and promote self-service, At the same time, this will be supported by digitalised back-of-house operations.

In the second stage, more advanced digital solutions identified to capture new consumer markets through aggregation platforms. With a high smartphone penetration rate in Singapore, SME retailers can also enhance customers’ self-served experience through their mobile devices, facilitating both in-store and online shopping experience.

The final stage involves integration to other digital platforms for the aggregation of industry data, harnessing analytical information to make informed business decisions involving themselves and their business partners in the ecosystem.

Exploiting new and advanced digital platforms like omni-channel retailing and digital marketing, retailers can create, grow and protect a global brand and enhance customer reach and experience.

A Self-Assessment Checklist will be made available online where SME retailers can assess and identify their digital readiness and the digitalisation opportunities based on a broad understanding of their business operations, current level of digitalisation, and business expansion plans.

For a more comprehensive review of their business, SME retailers can approach SME Centre business advisors for free business diagnosis and advice on relevant digital solutions. SME Centre business advisors will also refer SMEs that require specialist advice on more advanced digital solutions, such as data analytics and cybersecurity, to the SME Digital Tech Hub.

SMEs requiring productivity tools such as video analytics solutions will continue to receive support through access to pre-approved digital technology solutions. SMEs can visit the Tech Depot for more information on these solutions.

The Skills Framework for Retail, which was launched on 4 August 2017, identifies a spectrum of skillsets, career pathways and job roles to cater to this new digital workforce. With the identification of the new skills sets, companies can also tap on WSG’s Adapt and Grow initiatives such as the Professional Conversion Programmes.

Concurrently, the TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) programme will support the Retail IDP by offering various programmes to develop ICT manpower needs to help businesses in their digitalisation journey.

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