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More help for retail firms in digitalising to tackle cyber attacks, manpower shortage

SINGAPORE – Retail enterprises will get more help to go digital under a refreshed retail industry digital plan launched on Thursday.

It will assist about 23,000 enterprises in the retail sector in protecting themselves against cyber attacks and safeguarding their customers’ personal data.

This sort of protection is critical for a firm’s reputation and to fortify it against such attacks, said Minister of State for Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling, who launched the refreshed plan during a visit to furniture retailer Scanteak.

The plan was jointly developed by Enterprise Singapore and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), in consultation with about 250 stakeholders from the retail industry.

Ms Low also noted the growing importance of the digital economy, which “contributed $106 billion to Singapore in 2022, comprising 17.3 per cent of our gross domestic product last year”.

The refreshed industry digital plan (IDP) pinpoints solutions in three key areas of retail: customer experience, operational efficiency and business growth.

It also highlights what is called omnichannel retail management, which allows firms to integrate functions such as inventory management, customer relationship management and online orders.

This process can give businesses the ability to operate while monitoring their inventory in real time, and in turn, optimise supply chain operations and streamline manual processes.

Womenswear brand Love, Bonito collected data via a customer relationship management tool to better understand what its buyers prefer.

The company considers customers’ shopping behaviour, purchase history and product preferences to provide recommendations and exclusive member privileges. This data can be further used to deliver enhanced personalised experiences.

The refreshed retail IDP has also added self-checkout solutions, in-store analytics and immersive retail, which uses augmented-reality features.

Scanteak has adopted this feature to allow customers to interact with products and envision how furniture items might look in their homes. Customers can also get a sense if the design styles and sizes will fit their space.

“We are hoping that such features would shorten the business cycle: If consumers can use (augmented reality) at home, they can take the furniture measurements they need. So when they come to the store, it would probably have saved them 15 to 20 minutes,” said Scanteak chief executive Jamie Lim.

Digital solutions of this nature can boost operational efficiency, which helps offset manpower constraints in the retail industry, she added.

The retail IDP, which was first launched in 2017, is a key initiative under the Retail Industry Transformation Map 2025 that aims to promote innovation and technology adoption in the sector here.

An IMDA survey conducted in 2021 found that 90 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises in the retail sector had adopted at least one solution as at 2021.

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