Top tips to improve retail strategies, design concepts, technology innovation, retail strategies, seminars and workshops will feature strongly at the second Retail Asia Expo, which takes place from June 22-24 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Expo organiser, Diversified Events Hong Kong, says the three-day event will help retailers evaluate the latest solutions, and keep pace with fast-moving innovations and technological advances in the retail sector. 'The focus of the event is to provide retailers with education. Retailers enjoy looking at the things other retailers are doing. If they had the budget, retail managers would send their people to Milan, Tokyo and Paris to see what is happening. Instead, Retail Asia Expo will allow Asian retailers to see and learn about the latest trends and concepts taking place in leading retail centres,' says Stuart Bailey, general manager of Diversified Events. Building on the success of last year's inaugural event, the number of participating companies has more than doubled. Together with numerous niche suppliers, more than 300 leading international and regional technology, design and retail services companies are participating in the event. The organiser is also expecting visitor numbers to exceed 8,000, more than double last year's figure. Bailey says a design gallery will provide visitors with visual inspiration and creative ideas that can transform their retail space into stores in which customers want to spend time shopping and spending. 'Creating the right environment is one of the most important aspects of successful retailing. By applying new concepts and technology to established ways of doing business, a retailer can strengthen its competitive and financial position, and improve the customer experience,' Bailey says. Retail Asia Expo will also feature the latest lighting, shelving and digital signage technology. Visitors will be able to learn how mannequins, such as those used by major fashion houses, can boost sales and improve inventory turnover. 'From window displays, lighting and fittings to colours and textures, the look and feel of a shop can make a world of difference to the customer experience,' Bailey says. He says Retail Asia Expo will introduce new ideas and products to the region in the same way as Euroshop did in Dusseldorf, Germany, and the world's largest retail trade fair, Global Shop in the United States. 'The expo is an excellent opportunity for large and small retailers to see what is possible in the world of retail interiors, and to take away tangible ideas to implement in their own stores. Whether through visual merchandising, communicating with customers through social media, or improving the back-end functions of their businesses, such as the supply chain, there are numerous ways retailers can improve their performance,' Bailey says. He says there is good reason to remain optimistic about Asia's retail sector. 'Asia has become the centre of retail, with the biggest market and the biggest growth. Relative to other parts of the world, Asia has been less affected by the global financial crisis. For example, in Hong Kong, profits are down but turnover has actually increased. At the same time on the mainland, retail growth is rising by about 15 per cent year-on-year,' Bailey says. Retail Asia Expo will also feature a series of seminars and workshops including a keynote speech by Professor Bernd Hallier, managing director of the EHI Retail Institute, on 'Branding Innovations'. In addition to the latest market trends, high-level programmes will cover strategic issues facing retailers in Asia-Pacific. These include business intelligence solutions, information and financial management, supply chain efficiencies and retail property updates. Other forum speakers include: brand makeover specialist Tommy Li, creative director at Tommy Li Design Workshop; Charles Ng, chief brand consultant at Maxi Communications; and Philip Wong, customer solution architect at Cisco, who will talk about Borderless Retailing, a relatively new concept in Asia. Overcoming the challenge of a rapid expansion of stores on the mainland is the topic of another seminar presented by Truhon Leong, vice-president of Rising-UAD. 'The schedule this year has been expanded, with new experts and topics to meet the overwhelming demand seen last year,' Bailey says. To provide visitors with a comfortable environment, the organiser has commissioned its own special perfume, 'the smell of retail success', similar to perfumes used in hotel lobbies and luxury goods stores. Entry to the Retail Asia Expo, and all seminars and workshops, is free of charge for retailers.