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IT: A retail strategy enabler

Ross O. Storey | Aug. 3, 2010
UK-born, but now headquartered in Singapore, Courts is one of the largest furniture, electronics and IT retailers in Southeast Asia. Courts Singapore CEO Terry O’Connor believes the use of IT in the retail industry has become increasingly important and complex.

How would you describe the importance of information technology (IT) in the retail industry today?

Asia has been at the forefront of the global economic recovery and without doubt the retail industry in Singapore has also seen improved sales with consumers willing to spend more. However, we are not totally out of the woods yet and the fact that Singapore is a hyper-competitive retail market, whereby customers desire the best value for top brands; week in week out; adds to the challenges we retailers face.

To succeed in this marketplace, we are convinced we must become leaner and better equipped than our competitors, continue to deliver our price value proposition, aggressively drive cost down and share our savings with our customers to increase our market share.  

It is our approach towards delivering our products at the best price value to our customers.

We believe in leveraging on IT to make our business model tick, helping us better analyse our customers' needs, source the right products at the right quantities from our suppliers as well as ensuring our branches and supply chain operations are as efficient as possible.  

How has the focus on IT changed over the past few years in Singapore's retail industry?

Traditionally IT has been used as tools to reduce the reliance on manpower, help us support point of sales activities, stock control and where possible automate accounting functions.  

Increasingly, modern technology has given us the tools to manage far more complex business functions such as advertising, credit scoring, database marketing and even the analysis of consumer buying patterns.

What is Courts' philosophy towards IT and what key systems does your enterprise use?

Court's sees IT as an enabler of business strategy, a key tool that makes our business model work efficiently. No doubt, we have a set of business systems that help us automate front and back office functions, but we continually seek new solutions which can help us reach an even higher level of cost efficiency. It's a tool that helps us improve ourselves continually.

How do you ensure that your C-suite executives are all working to the same vision relating to the use of IT?

In Courts, we have a business strategy and a well-crafted business model for which IT is an enabling tool to make things happen. While we understand what we want IT to do for us, all my C executives, including our CIO, are measured and incentivised on the achievement of a common set of business key performance indicators (KPIs).  


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