Rising incomes and growing demand for consumer goods and services create rich opportunities for retailers in ASEAN. This is especially significant as member nations join forces to become a single, global economic powerhouse. Yet, many ASEAN retailers have been slow to innovate. As the market opens up, retail innovation will be required to fully capture the opportunities.

What is keeping retailers from ushering in this new era? Several barriers, including cumbersome regulations, talent shortages, inadequate infrastructure, and a lack of financing for innovators stand in the way of a modern, integrated ASEAN retail market. These are among the topics discussed at the Lifting-the-Barriers Roundtable at the 2015 ASEAN Business Club forum in Singapore. Participants identified four steps to overcome these barriers and unleash the potential of retail innovation in ASEAN:

  • Reduce non-tariff barriers for new products by harmonizing labeling and testing requirements and strengthening the ASEAN secretariat.
  • Improve access to talent by including retailers in vocational training programs and encouraging the recognition of professional credentials throughout ASEAN.
  • Ease the flow of new products and services across countries by implementing the ASEAN Single Window and coordinating payment systems.
  • Integrate “retail innovators” by establishing a regional network of government agencies that promote innovation, and by fostering collaboration between innovation incubators and retailers.

This paper draws on insights from the 2015 Lifting-the-Barriers Roundtable to assess the current state of retail innovation in ASEAN and recommends measures to modernize retailing across the region.

How to overcome the obstacles to retail innovation in ASEAN

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