Retail sector could be new frontier for digital game-changers

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As it tries to dig itself out of a rut, the sluggish retail sector could become the new frontier for digital game-changers such as video analytics, but industry insiders cited a mindset change as the main hurdle.

Assistant Professor Ernst Osinga from the Singapore Management University's Lee Kong Chian School of Business told The Straits Times: "For online retailers, it is easier to collect and analyse consumer data. However, offline retailers can also benefit from new developments and should not shy away from technology.

"New developments include tracking the consumer's path through a store or mall using Wi-Fi tracking and the use of sensors."

Shoe chain Design & Comfort has been tapping video analytics since July to improve how it deploys staff and displays products.

It now uses a system to monitor footfall and how customers move around the store.


Company director Nicholas Chan said: "Depending on the retail traffic counts at an outlet, we can easily decide how many part-timers are required to ensure optimal productivity instead of hiring a fixed number of staff."

Productivity has gone up by more than 5 per cent, he added.

Meanwhile, Japan's NEC Corporation, whose biometric technology is behind Singapore's NRIC system, kicked off trials last year that let Tokyo workers make purchases in staff canteens via facial recognition.

Thanks to this, "paying with your face" could be an option by the second quarter of next year in Japan and in other parts of Asia, including Singapore, the company said.