Day Two Opening Remarks: National Retail Federation CEO and Singapore Retailer’s Association President

Day Two kicked off with opening Remarks from the president and CEO of the National Retail Federation’s CEO Matt Shay. Matt leads the world’s largest retail trade association, representing North America’s largest private-sector employer of 55 million retail workers, generating $5.59 trillion in annual GDP.

Since his arrival in 2010, Shay has transformed NRF into Washington’s most powerful voice supporting the retail industry. Shay has also been at the forefront of shifting and framing the narrative about the current state of retail, particularly its digital evolution and vibrant, multichannel future. Shay previously served as president and CEO of the International Franchise Association.

Shay explained that he and the National Retail Federation was excited about the potential of working closer with Asian retailers and the Singapore Retailer’s Association.

“We are actively looking to expand internationally. We represent global brands, so it is appropriate to expand internationally.”

“We serve as a convener of training, of events and meetings. We are looking forward collaborating closely, so we can continue to bring Big Show to Singapore every year.”

Matt was joined on stage by Ernie Koh. Koh is currently the Executive Director – Marketing of Koda Ltd and the Chairman of Commune Lifestyle Pte Ltd. Since 2016, he is also the president of the Singapore Retailer’s Association (SRA).

The Singapore Retailers Association (SRA) was founded in 1977, originally as the Singapore Retail Merchants Association by 10 leading retailers. It is a non-profit, independent/non-governmental retail trade body in Singapore, funded entirely by the private sector.

Koh informed attendees that, “today, our membership has grown to over 570 retailers, reflecting a diversity and vibrance industry. Collectively, our members employ more than 80,000 workers, own or sell more than 4,500 brands, across more than 14,000 store fronts, accounting for more than $30 billion annually.”

“We are led by 18 Council Members from leading companies and SMEs. SRA’s vision is to be the respected and collective voice of the retail industry and advance the interests of the retail industry via insights, education and strategic collaborations.” SRA is committed to furthering its cause and advancing the initiatives under the Retail Industry Transformation Programme 2025 and the SRA Roadmap 2025 for the retail industry working in close partnership with retail stakeholders, government agencies and trade associations to foster innovation, promote globalisation and drive business growth.

Koh discussed the SRA Roadmap 2025 for the sector, outlining key themes and foci for the future.

“Our overall vision is to drive inspiring retail experiences through a diverse, stimulating and unique retail sector that continually inspires, excites and engages customers.”

Koh spoke of the four strategic pillars SRA hope to attain.

‘Unique Diversity’ is designed to stimulate consumer interest and spark fresh excitement in the retail experience to stimulate an endless appetite for retail, by leveraging on the existing multicultural and unique heritage strengths of Singapore to promote the diversity of shopping experiences. Koh spoke of exciting activations retailers have implemented.

‘Beacon of Light’ is SRA’s second pillar aiming to support retailers in gaining competitive advantage through experimentation, by challenging assumptions and disrupting expectations to attract shoppers, inspire career journeys, and forge a new pathway for retail experiences to create a globally unique retail value proposition. Koh spoke about how SRA were engaging with high school, tech colleges and universities to attract more young people to the sector.

“This strategic pillar will act as a beacon for the future workforce, to position retail an attractive and inspiring industry within which workers might be nurtured and flourish.”

‘Emotional Connection’ seeks to strengthening the people-centred core of retail, seeking to develop opportunities to build positive emotional experiences and connections both within the workforce and with customers.

Finally, ‘Seamless Collaboration’ aims to build an ecosystem of shared perspectives, collective design, collaborative learning, and frictionless retail opportunities to create an environment that supports innovation, creative problem-solving, and economies of scale.

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