Boosting retail business operations through innovative digital strategies and solutions

The people’s involvement is critical in every business’ digital transformation journey.

Technology has been ingrained in every aspect of our society today. For most organisations, their reliance on technology to ensure smoother operations and to deliver better results became more apparent during the onset of the pandemic – and their digital transformation journey has since begun.

With organisations gearing for the ‘new normal’ and operating with eased restrictions, their digital transformation journeys are now going all the way, incorporating every facet to their businesses. Companies are starting to learn to leverage the latest technologies and processes to understand business needs.

Whilst digital transformation is a continuous process, companies are now urged to adapt faster to the current trends, especially with the growing needs and the more aware mindsets of consumers. They should have a strong, but flexible foundation to take advantage of opportunities that might occur along the way.

This discussion is highlighted in Retail Asia’s latest virtual roundtable “Go Digital: Transforming your business operations in the digital age,” in partnership with leading software provider, Board. The roundtable discussion outlines the necessary infrastructure and data foundations needed for the digital transformation journey of organisations. It also emphasised that the people should not be left behind in the digital transformation journey as they are critical in its success.

Board Asia Pacific Regional Pre-Sales Sharath Bobba talked about the foundations for a successful digital transformation, since it has become a key priority for chief executives and for organisations of all sizes.

Bobba mentioned that organisations first need to unify their data to set up their business transformation. From there, they can bring in and provide predictive analytics and business intelligence to integrate sales, supply chain, and operations.

Addressing the challenges in digital transformation journey

The virtual roundtable also expounded on the challenges faced by many businesses in their digital transformation journey. The panelists agree on the need to look into the right business strategies, so that the technology they use will be able to properly support it.

Moreover, the panelists note that there is a lot of upskilling necessary to be able to thrive in the digital transformation journey given ​​the lack of skills and expertise in IT and digitisation initiatives. 

Shirley Ng, Senior Vice President - Retail at Expressions Stationery Shop, also mentioned the relevance of digital transformation in improving the business and sales operations. She explained that companies should ensure customer connectedness now that retail shopping has been revolutionised and are now more accessible to them.

“We say that the customer journey starts way before they actually visit and the connection extends past the transaction,” she said.

Ng added that companies also need to optimise operations in the form of enterprise operations, given that there is a lot of technology across the end-to-end operations. This automation ensures better efficiency in human capita, and organisations can focus on the more important tasks.

“With all the technology and automation in the enterprise, it produces efficiencies in our operations, and allows us to capture all the data in a single view and allows us to get in, turn all this information into insights. Therefore, it's easier for us to be able to pinpoint problems, problem areas and opportunities,” she said.

Leveraging digital strategies and solutions for smoother operations

Meanwhile, YHS (Singapore) Director, Group IT & Cybersecurity Anderson Teo shared some strategies that retailers can leverage to ensure that data is utilised and kept secure at the same time.

He mentioned that businesses first need to identify what data is internal and external, as they can help management. Then, they would have to integrate the data. He noted that the lack of data sharing often makes business difficult for organisations to monitor their performance metrics. This is where business intelligence (BI) comes in handy.

“I would really suggest that some form of BI solution or have some kind of internal talents to perform the necessary analysis, why is it important, I think that you should know that BI analytic platforms actually break away these data silos that are stored in your system and you will enhance your information exchange,” Teo said.

He added that the data should be used to forecast and enhance business outcomes. For this, companies will need to have predictive analytics software to help.

“So when you have a more sophisticated machine learning system, then data from the sales funnel can become a forecasting system to project future customer returns, sales behaviors, and even increased revenue, for the collection of this data allows business to determine what operation to invest at the appropriate time to promote profitability,” Teo said. 

At the same time, Alpargatas President - APAC Robert Esser also shared the technology solutions that helped their company in their digital transformation journey. Relating to his experience in handling the global name brand Havaianas, Esser said that choosing the right solutions and platforms is also critical in this undertaking.

“The solutions and the platforms that you choose need to be, as I would say, simple, agile and plug and play as possible,” he said.

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