Sri Lankan retailers aim for professionalism, better standards

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s retailers aim to encourage more professionalism in the industry by focusing on standardizing, benchmarking and training and use techniques like data analytics to meet the needs of increasingly discerning consumers, a senior official said.

The Sri Lanka Retailers Association (SLRA) is focused on enhancing the image and credibility of the retail industry and its significance to the national economy, Sidath Kodikara, its chairman, said.

Today, organized retail trade contributes to one third of the national GDP while accounting for 14 percent of the labour market, he told the association’s annual meeting.

“The association envisages that a substantial amount of its energy would be expended towards standardizing, benchmarking and training across the retail sector,” Kodikara said.

“Scaling up the retail academy would create space for professionals to become the norm and not the exception in our trade.”

The SLRA would also partner vocational training institutes to further formalize training models and create widespread opportunity for youth to enter the vibrant industry with professional qualifications.

“The job bank envisages by SLRA would complement this process in ensuring a seamless link between learning, training and real career prospects,” Kodikara said.

SLRA plans to spearhead the reduction of food waste and pollution across retail in Sri Lanka through a structured programme led by large corporate, he also said.

“The aim is to create a close looped system that would help reduce waste and our environmental footprint throughout our value chains.”

The SLRA also plans to share its expertise in creating a more level playing field for small retail operations to thrive as organized retail expands beyond the Western Province.





It sees a significant role for itself in providing training, enhancing skills and expanding knowledge of the industry workforce towards elevating the local standards to global levels, Kodikara said.

Retailers now also have a significant amount of data to power and deliver personalized, customized and localized experiences to customers, he said.

“In 2019 we will see increasingly new models of partnerships and collaborations between retailers and technology companies emerge.
“The SLRA would spearhead this information driven transformation by empowering our membership with access to analytics, establish a retail performance matrix commencing with publicly available information and quarterly updates.”

The rise of the conscious customer will continue as consumers base their buying decisions on many factors beyond price, Kodikara said.

“These new consumers, led and influenced by millennials, are exerting influence on retailers and forcing them to act. The SLRA therefore foresees the significant role it would play in riding this conscious consumer wave through the strength of data, analytics and informed business decisions.”
(COLOMBO, 28 November 2018)

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