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SMU, Spring and EDB launch Retail Centre of Excellence

11 Oct 2017
- A joint initiative that aims to empower retailers with know-how through research and insights, and to build an eco-system to ride the winds of change

The SMU Retail Centre of Excellence (RCoE), officially launched by Ms Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, and Ministry of Trade and Industry on 10 October 2017, is set to be the first retail insight-sharing hub in Singapore focusing on generating and disseminating actionable knowledge for retailers in Singapore, Asia and beyond.

The Centre aims to empower retailers with the know-how through research and insights, and build an ecosystem (comprising retailers, retail experts, knowledge partners, SMU faculty and student talent) to ride the winds of change.  Helmed by SMU Professor of Marketing Kapil R. Tuli, the RCoE is joined by a group of Founding Members comprising DFS Venture, Microsoft, Harvey Norman, IKEA, Popular Holdings, Decathlon and Tiffany and Co.

Through this collective effort, the RCoE dedicates itself towards tackling key industry challenges and helping retailers raise their productivity and innovation levels.  The Centre also seeks to attract and develop a talent pipeline through academic curriculum. These include leadership training and internships for SMU undergraduate and postgraduate students, and masterclasses for industry stakeholders, managers and C-Suite executives. Research by SMU faculty experts will be also shared with traditional and non-traditional retailers to enhance industry knowhow, enabling them to grow their retail businesses locally and abroad.

The following story on the launch event was published in The Straits Times on 11 October 2017:


Sharpening retail sector's competitive instincts

By Cheow Sue-Ann

A Retail Centre of Excellence was launched yesterday to explore ideas such as how online and physical retail can be integrated seamlessly and successfully.

The centre will see retail experts generate ideas and share inside knowledge on how to keep the industry healthy. It will be housed in the Lee Kong Chian School of Business at Singapore Management University (SMU).

The first and only retail insight-sharing hub in Singapore is a joint initiative between SMU, Spring Singapore and the Economic Development Board.

The centre's director, Professor Kapil R. Tuli of SMU, said it will aim to keep the retail industry healthy by figuring out best practices for both online and physical retail.

While there may seem to be a slump in bricks-and-mortar retail, Prof Kapil said, the perceived drop might not be as real as imagined.

He cited the recent acquisition by online shopping giant Amazon of American physical retail chain Whole Foods. He also mentioned Amazon's presence as a physical store on many American campuses.

Closer to home, he said even major online retail chain Alibaba is moving into physical retail in the form of a mega shopping mall.

Prof Kapil added that the physical-versus-online question is not one that is binary, but rather complementary. "Now's the time for a centre like this to, regardless of platform, help create unique shopping experiences," he said.

The centre boasts an impressive list of founding members including retailers such as Ikea, luxury jeweller Tiffany & Co as well as tech giant Microsoft.

The centre will take a three-pronged approach - talent, community and research - as it seeks to empower retailers with know-how through research and insights, and build a strong community of students, experts and businesses.

It also wants to educate students and change the mindset of the younger generation towards the retail industry.

Mr Mike King, Ikea South-east Asia's retail director, said: "The main thing to do will be to change the mindset about retail as a career. Now, it might not be the career of choice for many young graduates, but we want to make people see things differently and recognise the potential and opportunities of a career in retail."

- End -

[Photos: Ms Sim Ann officiating the launch of the SMU Retail Centre of Excellence.]
[Right photo: SMU Provost, Prof Lily Kong, addressing the guests at the launch event.]
[Left photo: Representatives from SMU, EDB and SPRING, together with the RCoE's Founding Members; Right photo: Ms Sim Ann interacting with SMU faculty members.]
Press release:

Last updated on 11 Oct 2017 .