TOP 500 AWARDS – Innovate and embrace change to stay ahead

It was a night to remember for the august gathering of Asian retailers at the 14th Retail Asia-Pacific Top 500 Awards Ceremony & Gala Dinner, hosted by NYCU Media on October 24 at The Westin Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where we honoured top retailers from 14 Asian economies … and revealed the five 2017 Best-of-the-Best retailers in the Asia-Pacific region.

Congratulations to 2017 Retail Asia-Pacific Top 500 Award winners.

It’s been 14 long years since we launched the Retail Asia-Pacific Top 500 programme in collaboration with Euromonitor International, our official market information provider, and KPMG, our principal programme partner,” said Kenneth Tan (left), partner, NYCU Media, in his welcome address.

“On behalf of NYCU Media, I would like to thank them for their close cooperation and friendship.
And I would also like to express our appreciation to Crown Equipment, our Gold Sponsor; Diebold Nixdorf, our Co-Sponsor; and The Westin Kuala Lumpur, our Hotel Partner, for their partnership with us for tonight’s function.

“As we are now living in a very interesting and exciting time, I believe it’s also time for us to adapt and change. From next year onwards at our annual Top 500 Awards Ceremony & Gala Dinner and other events, we will start inviting millennials to be seated among us to provide us with their feedback into what we are discussing and doing in meeting the new challenges confronting our industry,” declared Tan.

He added: “We will harvest what they blog or tweet in terms of how they perceived what’s happening in the retail industry — as well as their friends’ comments on how it will influence their shopping behaviour.

“I believe this is the new-generation media; thus, this is why we basically need to do so, to gain feedback from them.”

Tan also revealed that NYCU Media would work with KPMG to start a regular column to feature FinTech companies as well as any form of technology that would be of interest to retailers in the region.

“We will also be looking for collaboration opportunities with different international trade shows and event organisers. We are honoured tonight to have three big international trade shows representatives with us.

“We have Piritta Torro from IHA (International Housewares Association, USA), Sean Gn from Messe Düsseldorf representing Euroshop and C-Star, as well Doreen Soh from Montgomery Asia. We hope to be able to work closely with them to provide more opportunities to recharge and rejuvenate the Asian retail markets.”

Michelle Grant, head of Retailing, Euromonitor International, noted that the James Bond theme for this year’s Retail Asia-Pacific Top 500 event was very appropriate. She said: “Ian Fleming created this character in 1953. Many retailers on the Top500 list and here in this room tonight are as old as, if not older, than James Bond.

“Just like James Bond, they’ve reinvented themselves to attract the new generations of consumers, especially when it comes to fancy gadgets.”

She congratulated this year’s cohort of Top 500 winners and wished all retailers the best in their next new inventions. “I look forward to see what they have in store for consumers in the near future.”

Speaking on behalf of KPMG, Anson Bailey, head of Consumer & Retail, ASPAC, KPMG China, said: “Retail is going through a lot of changes. The key message to all of us here tonight is we really do need to change and that the speed of change is happening very, very quickly.”

He reiterated that with the high speed of change, retailers need to think like startups. “We need to be very agile — that is very important.

“Asian consumers are growing. If you look at the world’s millennial population, nearly 60% of the millennials are here in Asia today!

“By 2030, household domestic consumption in Asia is going to be US$33 trillion. We are in the right place; we are in the right time … but we are also in for some headwinds.

“I think, without a shadow of a doubt, we do need to change. If we stand still, we will die. That is the key message for all of us — we have to innovate, we have to accept change.”

Indeed, many of the retailers that made it into the 2017 Top 10 best performing retailers in the 14 economies, each ranked by its gross sales, have realised the need to adapt to the many disruptions impacting the whole retail ecosystem. Some have trimmed their sails and tacked their boats to survive the strong headwinds.

They have not only survived but also thrived by accepting and adapting to the profound changes buffeting the industry.

NYCU Media saluted them and presented Certificates of Distinction and Top 500 trophies to the winners who attended the awards ceremony.

Of the Top 10 winners from the 14 economies, five companies were acclaimed by an international panel of judges to receive the Retail Asia-Pacific ‘Best-of-the-Best’ Award. The five Best-of-the-Best retailers for 2017 are AEON Co of Malaysia, Indomarco Prismatama of Indonesia, Mercury Drug Corp of the Philippines, Luk Fook Holdings (International) of Hong Kong, and Mobile World of Vietnam.

Dr Lynda Wee, the chief judge, shared that the future of retail would require ways to influence shoppers through interactive experiences.

“Retailers will need to embrace analytics to deliver personalised experiences.”

In today’s connected world, data is key and it can provide actionable insights and ideas to engage customers emotionally; consumers also regard convenience as an important factor in their shopping journey.

“To stay relevant, to stay ahead, we must innovate,” she advised.

Speaking to Retail Asia at the event, Dery Suryadiharja, Digital Marketing senior manager, Indomarco Prismatama, said: “We feel honoured to be recognised in the industry, especially in Asia, because we’ve always tried our best to do our best for our customers.”

He added that winning the Best-of-the-Best award was a great recognition of the company’s commitment to offer its customers best possible shopping experiences.

Sharing his forecast for the new year, he is confident the retail industry will definitely improve. “The growth will not be as rapid as 2016 but we think that in 2018 there is a gap that we can tap on, especially in the digital arena — and that’s where we will be focusing on in 2018.”

A highlight of the event was the induction of The Good Guys (now part of JB Hi-Fi’s group of companies) of Australia to the Retail Asia-Pacific Top 500 Hall of Fame. This ultimate accolade is accorded to a retail company that has won the Best-of-the-Best title for three consecutive years.

Commenting on the significance of the Retail Asia-Pacific Top 500 ranking and the Hall of Fame honour, Richard Murray, Group CEO, JB Hi-Fi, said: “We’re honoured to be the first Australian retail company to be inducted into Retail Asia-Pacific Top 500 ‘Hall of Fame’.

“This is an incredible achievement, and a true testament to the hard work of The Good Guys team across Australia.”

Another highlight of the evening was a Lucky Draw to send a retailer to attend the 2018 International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago next March. This annual mega exposition is organised by the IHA.

The lucky winner this year is Hiroyuki Kotera, executive director, Retail Business Division, AEON Co (Malaysia).

Piritta Torro, International Marketing & Business Development, IHA, congratulated Kotera, who will be provided with an economy return air ticket to Chicago and a five-star hotel accommodation to attend the trade show featuring more than 2,200 exhibitors from March 10-13 next year.

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