A New Way of Retail with Analytics

27 November 2017

Singapore’s current retail scene

According to industry reports, the construction of islandwide brick-and-mortar retail stores have significantly slowed down in the past three years, from 2.3 million sq ft in 2014 to 0.7 million sq ft in 2016. The average prime retail rentals leased across the Island has also fallen 4.8% since their peak in 20141.


Two reasons for this decline are that our sluggish economy has overall impacted retail activity and consumer sentiment, coupled with the growing popularity of e-commerce retail. The growing number of retail technology solutions can be attributed to shifting habits in consumerism. Patterns indicate as our population increasingly becomes more tech-savvy, we tend to also integrate technology into all aspects of our lives, due to its ease and convenience.


New technologies are also radically transforming consumers’ shopping experience. Today’s tech-savvy consumers are exposed to a multitude of options offline and online, and are firm believers in word-of-mouth and online reviews.


There are many solutions and technologies available that can augment retail operations and provide new consumer experiences. We take a look at a few of these new technologies, display the benefits of retail analytics and showcase how one particular business in Singapore has become the first to adopt and launch an unmanned, cashless retail outlet.


Retail technology and the benefits of retail analytics

Innovative retail technologies are arriving in droves with maximum impact, disrupting many businesses, and creating a paradigm shift in consumerism. Here are some examples of disruptive retail technologies.


Robotic technology helps retailers to ease the manpower crunch and boost productivity. From the automatic point-of-sales self-service kiosks at MacDonald’s to the flying drones at Timbre @ The Substation that serves its customers, manpower can be allocated towards service and interaction with customers, instead of having to deal with day-to-day manual tasks.


Contactless payment is the result of the evolution of payment systems. Last year, Singapore has taken this concept to new heights, as it became one of the leading markets in the world for contactless payments, with more than four million Visa payWave transactions in a month2. In China, Alibaba managed to pioneer a Virtual Reality payment system that accepts payment with the nod of the head.


Predictive commerce utilises multiple digital channels of distribution for consumer insights.

Some examples are:

  • setting up an online presence via a website 
  • social media marketing 
  • retail analytics 
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) or smart technologies, to predict consumer preferences at particular locations and times.

Predictive commerce enables businesses to personalise their customers’ shopping experiences and turn them into repeat customers.


Retail analytics play a huge part in the areas of predictive commerce. It transforms how consumers communicate, research and shop for goods and services. Pairing retail analytics with social media insights and demand insights can help businesses find newer and faster ways to optimize assortment, understand demand, and further engage with their customers.


Smart technologies weave in retail analytics with already available retail solutions. Two of the newest entrants to the market are the smart surveillance cameras and the smart sensor. The smart sensors have a directional sensor that captures walk-by and walk-in traffic and a track-count system to account for customer tally at any point in time. On the other hand, smart cameras have a facial recognition system that can identify repeat customers along with their age and gender. It also has an in-built layout capture system that shows how customers engage with product shelves.


Cheers’ first unmanned, cashless retail store

Officially launched on 28th July this year, Cheers’ first unmanned cashless retail store is located on the second floor of Nanyang Polytechnic’s Faculty of Business Management3. Fully managed by more than 50 Retail Management students on a project group rotational basis, the store helps Cheers save up to 180 man-hours per week and operates with its own integrated examples of the retail technologies mentioned previously.


Spacious, brightly lit and designed to look just like any conventional Cheers store, it is anything but ordinary. With approximately 20 closed-circuit cameras, two specially designed smart cameras (positioned to face each entrance), three self-checkout Point-of-Sales (POS) machines, three next-generation vending machines, and a seamless digital operations system, the store ensures that business can run smoothly even without a cashier.


Its unified self-checkout POS system incorporates various cashless payment modes including NETS, credit card, EZ-Link, mobile, and contactless payment, doing away with unnecessary and multiple payment terminals. The outlet is also the first convenience store to accept NETS payment by QR code, a new form of payment that utilises DBS PayLah, OCBC Pay Anyone and UOB Mighty4.


Along with the surveillance cameras, the store’s main entrances are locked and shoppers are required to scan a QR code to gain entry into the store, ensuring its security. The QR code is generated via Cheers’ Shop It Yourself mobile app, which can be downloaded from the AppStore or Google Play Store.


Looking towards the future of retail

Whether it is capturing, understanding, engaging or influencing customers, businesses today need to recognise that digital is the way to go across the full value chain. While it is clear that the traditional retail model is inadequate in today’s contexts, retail businesses can still strive to provide unique experiences through an omni-channel approach.


The omni-channel approach relies heavily on predictive customer intelligence in order to realise one’s ROI. With it, businesses can monitor events, and evaluate, choose and act on alternatives as events actually unfold. They can also provide the right recommendations for targeted engagement with customers at any touch point. With these actionable insights, businesses can gear themselves up to increase their revenue and lifetime value.


Follow StarHub Business on Linkedin for the latest business updates.


1 https://www.edgeprop.sg/property-news/singapore%E2%80%99s-retail-scene-2017-and-beyond




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