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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.

This helps to bring clarity to the team in terms of working together to achieve business goals.

How would you describe the relationship that you have with your CIO and CFO and what makes this work?

We are a close-knit, action and results-oriented team. Aside from my direct reports working well together, it helps that my team are all measured on a common set of KPIs. This focuses everyone to what is really important and drives results.  

How would you describe the importance of the CIO's role in a retail enterprise like Courts?

We in Courts see the CIO role as not someone who manages IT and makes the machines tick.  He has a critical role in making sure our business model operates as efficiently as possible; enabling us to continually offer our products and services at a lower price point than our competitors.

What do you see as the biggest challenges that Courts faces relating to its IT systems?

No major challenges but it's really important to look to large markets such as US, Europe and Japan to try to predict future trends.

What have been the major IT projects that Courts has undertaken in the past two years or so?

Over the last two years, we have heavily invested in implementing Microsoft Navision, a business system package that allows us to automate core business functions ranging from branch sales, procurement to after sales service, customer deliveries and finance. In addition, we have also implemented specific systems to support our credit facilities to our customers.

What IT projects are currently occupying the minds of Courts executives?

Top on our list is our desire to increase business-to-business collaboration with our key suppliers in the area of supply chain management. We hope this will help us better manage our inventory, ensuring just-in-time delivery of stocks and improve our operating cost. 

In addition, we are also looking at innovative ways to improve internal and external communications as well as to further standardise our branch and back-office processes.

What are the most exciting trends in IT that are likely to have the greatest impact on Courts' operations?

We are closely monitoring the emerging trends in RFID technology to improve our inventory management as well as seeking new innovative ideas in customer retention. 

We believe these are some of the areas which may positively impact our operations and bottom line. 



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