Elysha Young
Elysha manages the Asia Pacific Mintel Trends team made up of expert analysts and trend spotters. She currently oversees content for Mintel Trends as well as client servicing for the region.

For the first time, Mintel will be involved in this year’s National Retail Conference and Stores Asia Expo, taking place in Manila, Philippines. At the conference, we will discuss the trends that are redefining Southeast Asia’s retail landscape in the days ahead.

New retail is something that Mintel has been discussing over the past couple of years. New retail, through the use of new technologies such as scan security and cashless payment, is increasingly changing how consumers in Southeast Asia shop. For instance, Mintel research reveals that around half of metro Indonesians and Thais have used their smartphones to pre-order food and other services (eg massage, beauty services, laundry collection) respectively.

Moving beyond just the convergence of online and offline shopping, new retail is merging with all other aspects of consumer services the likes of food delivery, entertainment and travel, among others. This convergence is now becoming what Mintel dubs as ‘next retail’.

Today, we are seeing a new generation of automated convenience stores pop up across the region—an illustration of Mintel’s 2019 Global Food and Drink Trend ‘Elevated Convenience’. However, majority of the leading convenience stores in Southeast Asia have not embarked on their unmanned store journey, especially since players in the region tend to take a wait-and-see approach.

While convenience is important to unmanned convenience stores, this format will not win on convenience and novelty alone. For unmanned convenience stores to grow in popularity and scale, store operators will need to focus on customer service and delivering an enjoyable shopping experience. Indeed, customer service makes a difference; around a quarter of metro Indonesians and Thais say that good customer service influences their purchase decisions.

It is important to note that beyond the tech, consumers in Southeast Asia still crave for some level of human interaction. In Malaysia, unmanned convenience store BingoBox features a remote assistance feature whereby staff appear on the checkout screen to render help when customers encounter issues with their payment.

Source: minimeinsights.com

As online and offline converge at an increasing pace to create a quick and seamless retail experience for consumers, it will be important to keep in mind whether the customer base is keeping up with, and indeed ready for, the new technology that affords the next retail experience. Retailers will need to determine the point at which the trade-off for the speed and ease of unmanned and cashless stores becomes worth the potential for excluding the portion of customers that aren’t digitally savvy or prefer human interaction in their customer service.

To learn more, Mintel’s Elysha Young, Trends Manager, APAC, will be in Manila presenting at NRCE 2019 on Friday, 16 August at 9am PST.