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US$68.5 million boost for Singapore’s retail sector

Ross O. Storey | April 20, 2011
A government stimulus package, including technology incentives, has been announced to encourage retailers to improve and innovate.

Singapore's Ion Orchard retail Complex

SINGAPORE, 20 APRIL 2011 - The Lion City’s enterprise development agency SPRING Singapore has committed SG$86 million (US$ 68.5 million) to support productivity improvements in the island nation’s retail sector.

The package has set a target of raising retail worker productivity by “about 25 per cent by 2015”.

The stimulus strategy was announced in an official statement yesterday (19 April 2011) by Singapore’s, Minister of State, Ministry for Trade & Industry and Manpower, Lee Yi Shyan, The announcement came on the same day the Singapore government set the 7 May 2011 date for a general election.

Minister Lee said Singapore’s retail sector employed about 102,000 workers in 2009, registering some $26 billion ($US 21 million) in operating receipts and generating $3.8 billion (US$3.06 million) in value add, equivalent to 1.5 per cent of Singapore’s GDP.

As part of the retail productivity plan, the minister said that SPRING Singapore would drive technology adoption for process excellence.

Advanced technology

“Advanced information and communication technologies such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), integrated point of sales and customer relationship management (CRM) systems greatly relieve manual labour and streamline operational processes,” Lee said.

“CRM also enables companies to data-mine to improve customer loyalty. On a higher level, retailers with multiple outlets can explore automation and system integration with their suppliers. Besides getting an immediate update on inventory levels and demands, such supply chain collaborations can reduce human error and processing time for all parties.”


Minister Lee highlighted Singapore department store Robinsons, where he made the announcement, as having recently concluded the B2B E-Hub Project with seven suppliers.

“The company is the first departmental store that adopted and implemented this new automated system, which significantly improved efficiency of the procurement process,” the minister said.

“The processing time was reduced by 33 per cent and the time taken to perform invoice matching was reduced by 95 per cent. This collaborative effort is also an added benefit to the participating suppliers, who are now able to transact on the e-commerce platform of other major retailers through a single interface.”

New branding concepts

He said that SPRING would also encourage retailers to explore new concepts and to enhance capabilities in areas such as branding, visual merchandising, marketing and design.

“A bold and innovative retail concept transforms the entire customer experience, leading to customer loyalty and enhanced profits,” the minister said.
He highlighted Soo Kee Jewellery as having discovered an opportunity in a niche market segment by conceptualizing ‘Love & Co’ while leveraging its strength in jewellery design.

“This specialty jewellery concept offers designs exclusively catered for couples, who can schedule a consultation online, via a website that also provides wedding tips and budgeting advice,” the minister said.

“Into its fifth year of operation, Love & Co is a great success, achieving a 10-fold jump in revenue since the start of the brand. The proven success of this business model has enabled Love & Co to enter the markets of Asia’s top shopping capitals, with plans to open 40 franchises in the next five years.”

Productivity metrics

Minister Lee said that SPRING would establish a set of common productivity metrics and performance indicators, at both retail industry and enterprise levels. This information will help retailers to review their processes, identify areas for improvement and monitor their progress. The study is expected to be concluded by the end of this year.

SPRING would also work closely with industry associations to facilitate continuous learning and sharing of best practices of top organisations through seminars, workshops, study missions and business leadership programmes. 


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