Lilanthi Herath


Why digital transformation is the name of the evolving retail game

The retail sector today in a sentence
Challenged and tested in its adaptability to serve customers safely and efficiently, steering the sector to embrace long overdue digital transformation.

Three strengths of the retail sector
Staff, customer loyalty and ‘one stop shop’ convenience.

Three weaknesses of the retail sector
Low margins, highly labour intensive and blind brand loyalty.

Three new prospective customer segments
The health conscious, gen Z and ethical product sourcing segments.

Three evolving consumer trends or behaviours
Technology-based contactless shopping, environmentally-friendly products and ethical garbage disposal systems.

Three barriers to retail sector growth in Sri Lanka
Unhealthy competition, brand focussed experience forced by suppliers and a lack of regulatory framework for general trade.

Local retail sector talent in one sentence
There’s an acute shortage of staff trained in professional customer service and product knowledge. Retaining trained staff is challenging due to the retail sector’s inherent labour-intensive nature.

Two ways to boost retail sector education for students
Create interest with further education opportunities – i.e. certificate courses and diplomas – while providing internships and hands-on training with career guidance.

Gender balance in the retail sector
Unfortunately, we have a long way to go.

Main impact of COVID-19 on the retail sector
Essential lifestyle changes and restrictions on movement.

Impact on the shopping experience
Customers are compelled to shop online, driving retailers to discover alternative ways to bring familiar shopping experiences through digital platforms.

Three initiatives to enhance the retail sector during and after COVID-19
Promoting digital technology to those who are averse to online shopping; timely and safe home deliveries; and customer centric product availability.

Shopping experiences should be unique and worthwhile for shoppers
This means providing for the needs of high spenders and medium to low income earners, and being a regional shopping centre for international shoppers.

Regional retail sector in a nutshell
The availability and quality in our regional setting is well appointed.

Local retail evolution
Despite being a small island nation, we are a force to reckon with and close contestant with the region in providing a high end shopping experience to international shoppers.

Retail sector relevance for millennials and gen Z
They prefer to spend the least time in a store – so we should be ready to cater to their needs with digital technology and enhanced shopping experiences.

Impact of influencers on the retail sector
They impact followers to a great extent and expect retailers to enable such ideologies.

Sri Lanka’s competitiveness in a few words
World-class standards in many retail experiences.

Impact of the digital age on Sri Lanka
It’s here to stay; embrace or perish!

The retail sector’s readiness for tech adoption
New infrastructure requirements pose challenges but technology usage continues to evolve.

Virtual team management in a sentence
It’s possible to an extent as long as all team members are willing and equipped to participate.

Digital security in the retail sector
Risk of tampering is inevitable but could be controlled and monitored, with the right resources and security measures.

Impact of social media on the world
Presently, the strongest global driver of change and influence is social media. However, the level of influence depends on target customers and their personal preferences.

Productivity is affecting industrial and economic growth
Yes – if we are not productive and adaptive, economic and industrial growth will be impeded.

Corruption is affecting industrial and economic growth
Yes – global and local investor sentiment, and general confidence in the business sector, will always be negatively impacted.

Competition drives innovation
Yes – as does general frustration and a lack of alternatives.

The retail sector in five years’ time
Most customers will choose to shop through the most time and cost-effective channel, leading to more digital platforms and retail stores acting as distribution centres.

Best movie that depictsthe retail sector
Employee of the Month (2006) shows the funny, lighter and tougher side of winning such an accolade.

Best out of the box retail sector personality
John James Sainsbury – he taught revolutionary retailing and promoted self-service super marketing in the UK in the 1860s.

Your mantra for success
Dream big, work towards realising it and never give up.

– Compiled by Lashani Ramanayake