Maximise for experience not floor space says RSH CEO

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Ahead of the Seamless Asia conference, I spoke to David Westhead, CEO at RSH Ltd, about how retailers can make best use of the limited floor space available in markets such as Singapore and Hong Kong. (Westhead is a speaker at the Seamless Asia conference, happening 19-20 April in Singapore.)

How much wastage of retail space do you see happening – especially in your own stores?

This is really dependant on the country and city. As an example Hong Kong is renowned for not having the most efficient spaces in retail, which is more to do with the old style buildings and poor configurations. Singapore’s premium rentals also means you have to minimise stockroom and staffroom/office space. So it’s important to ensure you’re utilising the retail space as effectively as possible but without compromising the environment. What I mean by this is that consumers are seeking an experience in stores, one that they can’t get online, which means depending on your consumers, stores style and product category, it may be worth shifting the legacy thinking of maximising every inch of floor space for product to maximising the in-store experience.

You mentioned Sneakerboy as an example of how the ‘store of the future’ actually should look like. They keep no inventory on-site, and this helps bump up their sales psqf.  This approach would work for Sneakerboy (which is niche.) Just how difficult would it be for a mass retailer – say, Robinsons – to implement this approach?

I won’t  comment on Robinsons, but for the other retail brands in the RSH portfolio, each one has its unique DNA and USP. Omni channel or total retail is here to stay, so there is a need for both online, offline, click and collect etc… the key is to ensure the consumer has access to the products and experience they want. For me, I see this being an opportunity to buy all products in store and be able to have products available immediately with others being delivered at the convenience of the customer.

I’ve heard of a clothing retailer who have to minimise storage space by having products delivered and unpacked right before stores open. Can you tell us what sort of difficulties this would create for the store manager?

It’s quite common for brands to have stock delivered before and after retail hours. It actually makes sense to do this for  a number of reasons; however, there can be higher costs involved in this process and difficulty of willing and available staff. Some shopping malls are now taking deliveries for all stores and managing the unpacking and delivery to stores at convenient times, thus enhancing the shopping experience for consumers and creating more efficiencies.

What do you do at your stores to minimise wastage of space?

We maximise the selling space and stockroom/staff areas through efficient planning and layout. RSH has its own internal store design team which makes us successful in this process. We also have local DC’s in each country to manage our store deliveries and replenishment and have invested in both front-end and back-end technology to ensure we are able to efficiently service the stores and consumers.

Westhead is set to join more than 200 other e-commerce, retail and payments professionals speaking at Seamless Asia. For more information, download our brochure here, or go right ahead and register here.


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