To keep pace with today's rapidly changing business environment, Singapore's retail sector needs to be closely connected to the global marketplace. This was the key message by Dr Lee Boon Yang, the Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, speaking today at the opening of the 8th Infocomm Commerce Conference.
Singapore, 19 August 2004 | For Immediate Release
Adopt Open Standards, Global Best Practices and Leverage IT for a Start
To keep pace with today's rapidly changing business environment, Singapore's retail sector needs to be closely connected to the global marketplace. This was the key message by Dr Lee Boon Yang, the Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, speaking today at the opening of the 8th Infocomm Commerce Conference. Adopting open standards, embracing global best practices and leveraging Infocomm technology would give local retailers the much-needed integration with the global market place.
When Dr Lee spoke at this event last year, he announced the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore's (IDA) plan to develop a Retail Ecosystem comprising open e-business messaging standards1 and a database of standardized product codes that will enable seamless transactions among trading partners. A year on, the Retail Ecosystem has attracted major players in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods industry, such as Carrefour, Cold Storage, FairPrice and Unilever. Through adoption of open e-business messaging standards and an internationally standardized product catalogue, known as the National Electronic Product Catalogue2, retailers and suppliers can now efficiently interact and exchange data with each other.
Having put in place the foundation of the retail ecosystem, the IDA's focus is now to build collaborative relationships within the retail sector. To this end, "IDA aims to work with retail industry leaders to develop three collaborative retail hubs over the next three years that will embrace best business practices and technology innovations. Such collaborative hubs will become more cost-efficient and responsive in meeting customers' demands and changes in the marketplace. When fully implemented, this initiative is expected to generate annual savings of about S$25 million and additional profits of S$15 million from increased sales. In addition, these hubs can act as reference sites when our Infocomm industry partners pitch for business overseas", said Dr Lee. Each hub is likely to comprise a major retailer and its pool of suppliers, whose IT systems are linked by supply chain technologies and business process tools to facilitate greater collaboration.
FairPrice, the leading supermarket chain in Singapore, is a major player in the retail ecosystem. Speaking about its electronic procurement system, its CIO, Mr Bernard Chew said, "Every day, we send purchase orders electronically to nearly 500 suppliers including Auric Pacific, Diethelm, Harpers, Nestle and YHS. This represents nearly S$400 million worth of orders through e-procurement every year. The e-Procurement system is an important cornerstone of our business infrastructure. It streamlines our business processes and supply chain, and allows us to respond more quickly to consumer demands."
Another major retail group, the Cold Storage Group, is now in the final stage of implementing its B2B hub to perform e-procurement transactions, from ordering to invoice payment processes. To-date, the Cold Storage Group has selected 3 suppliers for its pilot run, after which, the project will be rolled out further. With this implementation, the group expects to see cost benefits and marked improvements in productivity and efficiency of processes.
Proliferating the use of common standards represents Phase 1 of the retail ecosystem. Having done that, the next step is to deepen adoption of Infocomm technology in the retail sector. To do so, the IDA is encouraging retail industry players to embrace a business process tool known as Collaborative Planning, Forecasting and Replenishment (CPFR3). CPFR involves the sharing of sales and inventory data between business partners to enable collaborative activities such as sales planning, promotion management and replenishment planning. It is a global best practice in the Retail and Fast Moving Consumer Goods industry and lists Procter & Gamble, Tesco and Wal-Mart among its proponents.
In Singapore, home-grown supermarket chain, Sheng Siong is planning to use CPFR to link up with five of its suppliers - Jia Mei Trading, Nestle, PSC Corporation, Sin Hoe, and Unilever. Commenting on the potential of CPFR, its CEO, Mr Lim Hock Chee said, "CPFR will allow us to more accurately manage inventory levels which reduces out-of-stock situations and improves customer service. Better inventory forecast also means we don?t overstock and can reduce unnecessary costs from wastage."
To further enhance supply chain integration and efficiency, Dr Lee also encouraged the retail sector to tap on innovative infocomm technologies like Radio Frequency Identification or RFID. Kim Hiap Lee Co (Pte) Ltd, a subsidiary company of LHT Holdings, one of the largest manufacturers of wooden pallets, crates and boxes in Singapore, plans to use RFID technology to tag the pallets that it leases out to customers like Calsberg and Fraser & Neave. Commenting on the company's plans, May Yap, Sales and Marketing Director of LHT Holdings said, "With the mandate by major retailers like Wal-Mart for suppliers to RFID-tag their goods, we anticipate demand for our pallets to also be RFID-tagged. In view of that, we are looking into setting up an RFID command Centre in Singapore to track and manage the 1 million over pallets that are leased out in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand".
Jointly organized by IDA and the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the theme for this year's Infocomm Commerce Conference is "Connect for Growth in the Global Economy". Since its inception in 1997, the conference has become an important platform, bringing together leading technology vendors and companies from diverse industries that are seeking to strengthen their competitive edge through innovative use of infocomm technologies. For more information, visit www.sccci.org.sg.
ISSUED BY CORPORATE & MARKETING COMMUNICATION DIVISION
INFOCOMM DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY OF SINGAPORE
Notes to Editor:
1 E-business messaging standards provide a common language that allows the IT systems of retailers and suppliers to communicate, making it possible for suppliers to receive purchase orders, send invoices, basically, transact electronically through one interface. New suppliers and retailers can also easily join existing supply chains because they know what "language" their IT systems need to be programmed in.
2 The National Electronic Product Catalogue (NEPC) is an electronic database of product codes that serve as common reference for products. For example, ABC-brand almond ice cream may have product code 888 8086 570011, which is recognizable by suppliers and retailers' systems. So when a supermarket needs to replenish its stock of this ice-cream, they only need to make reference to the code and its supplier will know what it wants. The NEPC is linked to the Global European Article Number Party Information Registry or GEPIR (pronounced "Gir Peer"), which is the international product catalogue. With this link, more than 1,600 suppliers registered in the NEPC today are able to promote their 8,500 products to over 1 million companies from over 65 countries including Asia, Europe, Latin America and the USA.
3 See Annex (559.97KB) on CPFR.
About Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore
The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) develops, promotes and regulates info-communications in Singapore, with the aim of establishing Singapore as one of the world's premier infocomm capitals. To nurture an internationally competitive infocomm industry, IDA offers a comprehensive range of programmes and schemes for both local and international companies. For more information, visit https://www.imda.gov.sg/
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