Educating retailers

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 13 June, 2011, 12:00am


Showcasing an array of cutting-edge technologies and all aspects of shop design and visual marketing, Retail Asia Expo 2011, starting tomorrow, offers what retailers need to take their business to the next level.

'The show gives retailers an opportunity to get access to the latest technologies, and the newest design trends and products,' says Stuart Bailey, general manager of Diversified Events Hong Kong, organiser of the three-day expo at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

About 200 leading international and regional technology, design and retail services companies will be participating in the event, which is in its third year and expecting to draw 8,000 visitors, including retail operators representing major chain stores, multinational brand owners and advertising agencies across Asia. The show is supported by the Hong Kong Retail Management Association and other retail organisations in the region.

Bailey says Asian retailers face pressure from inflation, rising rent, staff pay and manufacturing costs, and competition from non-Asian brands. The 'Strong and Steady: 2011 Outlook for the Retail and Consumer Products Sector in Asia' report by PricewaterhouseCoopers expects retail sales in the region to be nearly US$6 trillion this year and more than US$8.5 trillion in 2014.

Retailers at the expo will learn how technologies can help them cap costs and stave off competition, Bailey says. Booths in the retail technology expo area will feature products launched by solutions providers such as Microsoft, Intel, NCR and Panasonic. The products range from mobile devices to process credit card payments, to tracking systems.

In the retail design and in-store marketing expo area, exhibitors will show the most up-to-date developments in interior design, flooring and display systems. There will be a stronger emphasis on lighting this year, with participation from Philips, Osram, Megaman and Acelab. Callison and HAYA Retail Solution will join the exhibitors.

Bailey says the expo's focus on providing retailers with education sets it apart from other industry events, with seminars and workshops designed to equip visitors with knowledge of the latest retail trends and strategies. There will also be plenty of networking opportunities.

The retail design seminar theatre will begin with a session entitled 'World Retail Design Overview 2011', consisting of a panel discussion moderated by representatives of Perspective Magazine, OOBIQ Architects and ParknShop Hong Kong and China. Throughout the three days, retailers will learn about leveraging social media and using 'e-tailing' in their business, translating the buzz created by social media into sales, maximising window displays to sell a brand and improving the customer's experience.

'It's about connecting the consumer to the brand and creating loyalty,' Bailey says. 'There are a number of ways to do that, [for instance] through social media sites such as Twitter, Weibo or Facebook. This is happening across all sectors.'

He adds that the layout of the shop plays an important part in linking the customer to the brand.

'People want to look at the merchandise and also find out information like what other colours it comes in, [and] want to access that information themselves. Look at the number of massive TV screens in the shop windows on Canton Road showing catwalks. There are also huge screens you can interact with inside the stores. If you touch them, they show this blue jumper goes well with this yellow skirt.'

The technology seminars, meanwhile, will explore ways shoppers connect with a brand through formats such as SMS, e-mail or Twitter, and how technology helps retailers profit from increased connectivity. Speakers include Michael Griffiths, Microsoft's global director for retail product management; Chris O'Malley, director of retail marketing for Intel's embedded and communications group; Keith Au, general manager of NCR Hong Kong; and PM Lai, chair of the Hong Kong Retail Technology Industry Association.

'Retail design is about creating the perfect environment, something that will 'wow' the customer,' Bailey says. 'With technology there's also a 'wow' factor. If you can understand your customers better with technology that can only benefit your sales.'

Event Details

Date June 14-16, 2011
Venue Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre
Fee Entry to the Expo, and all seminars and workshops, is free of charge