As the retail sector faces disruption, the push for transformation must come from top leaders - and the most important challenge remains getting buy-in from within, says Scanteak’s Jamie Lim.
Scanteak staff in dicussion. (Photo: Scanteak)
SINGAPORE: Every business understands the need for change, to stay relevant as technology threatens to upend business models and disrupt entire industries.
Every business leader must drive transformation in the face of disruption or risk losing market relevance.
Nowhere is this more true than in family-run businesses where second-generation owners like myself face the twin challenges of both driving the business forward to meet fast-changing market demands while staying true to the values and legacies built up over the years by the business founders.
When I took over the reins of Scanteak from my parents, some of the initiatives I pushed for include the introduction of new Point of Sale (POS) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, and most recently, an e-commerce platform with an online store.
An omni-channel approach was the way to go for retailers. Consumer behaviour was changing and we had to shape up or be prepared to ship out.
But some Scanteak sales staff were initially resistant as they saw an e-commerce platform as a threat to their personal livelihoods. Managers were unconvinced that there was an urgent need to change. After all, the physical showrooms were generating a healthy revenue and many staff members had grown used to pen-and-paper operations for a long time.
Even my own parents were sceptical that customers would purchase furniture online. Things had chugged along fine for over 20 years, so why fix what was not broken? There was a lot of convincing to do.
FIND ALLIES TO HELP DRIVE CHANGE
In my attempts to transform the business, I quickly learnt the importance of finding others who are equally convinced of your vision and can be ambassadors for change.
Advocating for a new POS system was not easy. A typical furniture showroom has an average of three to four sales orders a day, unlike a supermarket which sees a high volume of footfall and daily transactions.
Senior management and employees required more persuasion before they could see the need to digitalise sales or implement a POS system.
Fortunately, I had the support of my executive director and mentor, Jasmine Lim, who helped lead its implementation.
With her long years of service in the industry, Jasmine was an expert who had credibility with staff worried about being replaced by online platforms or additions to the work process. She helped to convince managers in the company that e-commerce was a winning bet and lent her expertise in management and dealing with customers over the years to develop our online store.
Thanks to her, and with further planning and staff training, we could effectively execute this change.