Retailers told to leverage on digital platform

As a platform for retailers, MRCA is responsible for sharing knowledge and giving solutions

by NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK / pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

Retailers were told to partake on the online shopping trend or continue to lose out more businesses, Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA) said.

MRCA council member Nicholas Chong Kah Yean said the retailers, which were most likely impacted from the emergence of online shopping four years ago, were the ones which held back from joining the digital platforms.

“As a platform for retailers, we are responsible for sharing knowledge and giving solutions so that they can cope in this new environment,” he said at the media briefing for upcoming Malaysia International Retail and Franchise (MIRF 2019) exhibition yesterday.

“If you look at the actual numbers, GrabFood has increased accessibility to food and beverage retailers, while Cashback has helped young consumers spend more wisely.

“From the retail side, we are trying to tell them to come join us and improve your retail structures. We are also hoping that more partners come to help us continue digitising the whole industry itself,” he said.

MRCA president Datuk Seri Garry Chua said brick-and-mortar hypermarkets must engage with online platforms in order to cope.

“In general, hypermarkets are cutting down on certain areas in order to survive, they are consolidating. This is also obvious in the international markets, even Walmart, the top retail company, is having difficulties and so they acquired Jet.com,” he said.

On Wednesday, Reuters reported that Walmart plans to overhaul Jet.com, an online start-up hypermarket that was acquired for US$3.3 billion (RM13.74 billion) in 2016, and plans to integrate the platform’s retail, technology, marketing, analytics and product teams with its own online business.

He added that online platform giant Amazon has acquired physical stores.

“So, the big lesson is realising you must engage in both online and offline environments, and you can be assured that offline will always be there.

“It is for the experience, and take for example our locals, they like to ‘lepak’ and bring their loved ones to go walking around hypermarkets and supermarkets,” he said.

Moving forward, Chua said he expects hypermarkets, supermarkets and shopping malls to engage more on the Industry 4.0 revolution.

“Artificial intelligence, Internet-of-things and robotics are things we can expect to be integrated in the retail industry in the future,” he said. Meanwhile, the MIRF 2019, held from July 18 to 20, targets RM90 million revenue and 18,000 visitors from over 20 countries.

MIRF will be introducing its Hatchery zone, an incubator programme by MRCA to assist the establishment and development of new retail businesses.

MIRF organising chairman and MRCA council member Raymond Woo said the zone provides an avenue for startups to exhibit their products and services to the market and public.

“It also presents an opportunity for the retail industry to grow and develop further to meet the ever changing needs of consumers by presenting ideas, services and products, as well as drive the industry by ensuring a fair marketplace for start-ups to cultivate,” he said.

He said cultivation is important to develop revenue streams for each other.

“For example, when newer brands are found in an established supermarket, it would add to each other’s revenue stream, which is also why we need to develop the camaraderie between these products and potential sellers,” he said.

Due to the introduction of the Hatchery zone, the exhibition’s fourth edition is expected to grow by 30%.