Philippine Retailing 2019 Philippine Retailing 2019 Q4_Digital - Page 21

RETAIL SPOTLIGHT Retail Associates: Driving retail innovation in the Philippine setting When it was established in the Philippines in 2006, Retail Associates was greeted by a retail landscape where majority of retailers struggle with disconnected systems and lack of ability to analyze operational data. Its President and CEO Bo Lundqvist wanted to bring world-class technology to a growing Filipino retail industry then, and after almost 14 years, Retail Associates is still focused on its core mission of enabling retailers by automating processes. This is possible with the help of its almost 100 Filipino staff who serve customers not only in the Philippines but in several countries around Asia Pacific, some of which are global retailers. He shared with the Philippine Retailing about the work they do, challenges, and some tips on how retailers should approach digital transformation: What would you say are the major milestones for the company in the Philippine setting? We are immensely proud to have been recognized as one of the leading Partners of LS Retail in the world. Diamond level partnership is awarded only 16 partners out of several hundred worldwide, with Retail Associates being one of few in Asia-Pacific. This reinforces the fact that Filipino talent is at global parity. What are the biggest challenges of the company and how did you overcome these? A major challenge to any technology provider in the Philippines is the availability of reliable connectivity. Retail is by default a geographically distributed business, with its core customer interaction happening at store-fronts. Modern technology typically requires always-on connectivity to deliver the customer experience expected. In the Philippines, this is a major challenge to anyone. Technology vendors like us have to find ways to deliver solutions based on that premise. Please share some of the solutions/products you provide to the retail industry. We specialize in the delivery, implementation and support of LS Retail. LS Retail is a global ERP solution for Retail and Hospitality, built on the Microsoft Dynamics platform. We also offer integrated solutions for eCommerce, Business Analytics, Property Management and very soon a solution for Hotels and Resorts. Finally, we help customers to refresh and keep current their IT infrastructure through our partnership with HP. What was the biggest compliment you received from clients? We often receive feedback from customers in positive terms related to our people, and it makes us happy each time. We are proud that our large pool of competent consulting resources are sought after not only in the Philippines, but are deployed also on LS Retail projects abroad, and possess therefore a wealth of experience. Likewise, expertise on local compliance has been appreciated by many customers, especially foreign retailers which often find Filipino compliance standards difficult to understand and comply with. What suggestions would you give to retailers in terms of transforming digitally or getting updated with the current trends? Retailers need to realize that technology is a key enabler for success, an investment and not a cost of doing business. Customers today expect unique and connected experiences at stores and online, and will quickly abandon retailers that cannot deliver on expectations. That puts IT at the very core of retailing, not only supporting the business, but as a key Customer Experience enabler. That said, retailers of all sizes should elevate IT strategy to the board rooms by hiring a qualified CIO and make him or her a key part of its vision and strategy. Digital transformation does not just happen, or happen over-night. A successful transformation from brick and mortar to Omni-channel needs have a plan in place, a plan that is firmly supported by the owners of the business. We believe a robust Finance and Operations solution is the core of any successful digital transformation, and suggest retailers focus its efforts on fully automating its current retail business as a first step. Please share with us the experience being part of the Stores Asia Expo at the 26th NRCE and how does this help the business? Retail Associates has been very supportive of PRA’s endeavors towards upgrading the country’s retail setting, including the NRCE and Stores Asia Expo. Being the key touchpoint to the large scale of retailers in the Philippines, the NRCE and Stores Asia Expo paved way for Retail Associates to generate business, create network and obtain followings for better sales and marketing campaign results. In addition, the conference provides us valuable knowledge and insight into the industry, and the future of the industry. What value do you get by becoming a member of PRA? PRA in truly the “pulse and voice of the Philippine Retail Industry”, catering not only to the large and established retailers, but also the smaller players and the startups. As a provider of solutions to the industry, our membership in PRA is an important platform for us to better understand the local industry requirements, and also for us to be able to reach out to retailers with the solutions we offer. Retail Spotlight aims to share the success stories and insights of PRA members. Share your story with us! if you have an inspiring story on how you started your business, or an employee who has served as inspiration within the company or the retailing community, we’d love to publish them on the Philippine Retailing magazine. Email your pitch at communications@philretailers.com and let’s share beautiful, inspiring stories to the retailing community.