#SMETowkay: Raising performances with data
This article is part of the #SMETowkay series by the Ministry of Communications and Information(MCI), Singapore to showcase SMEs who have benefited from going digital. This story features video retailer, Poh Kim Video.
Mr Lim Chee Yong used to hire students to manually measure the traffic to his Poh Kim Video stores across Singapore. As a video retailer, his sales tend to fluctuate depending on films available. Knowing the in-store traffic provides a better gauge for the managing director to learn whether a particular store is performing well or not. However, this meant hiring at least two students at each of his 20 stores — a laborious effort only possible during the school holidays.
Today, this data automatically comes to Chee Yong by the second. With a click of a button on his laptop, he can immediately check the day’s walk-ins and even compare it to previous weeks’. This has been made possible by Poh Kim adopting a digital solution through the SMEs Go Digital programme by the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA). Working with Ishikawa Consultancy, Poh Kim deployed a video analytics system that counts human traffic flow in a store called Prism Skylabs.
Besides the convenience of monitoring in-store traffic, going digital has also raised the performance of Poh Kim’s employees. Staff sales performance across its stores have become more uniform. In the past, his best employee could complete twice as many sales as his worst performing one. Chee Yong attributes this improvement in sales to the open sharing of video analytics with his employees. As they can objectively see how they perform in comparison to their colleagues, it fosters a healthy competition among them.
As the system also shows when exactly traffic peaks at every store, it allows Chee Yong to better manage Poh Kim’s manpower. With a better understanding of when each store needs extra staff, he has now hired more part-timers to work during such peak periods. This helps Poh Kim reduce its reliance on foreign labour. Referring to the quota, he says, “I never had enough in the past, to hire the manpower I needed. But today, I even have a balance.”
The part-time positions have been very popular with local middle-aged housewives, who are attracted to the short and flexible hours. These new hires suit Poh Kim too, as its clientele comprises mainly of middle-aged women. “The aunties know what the aunties like to watch,” says Chee Yong.
The technology has not only transformed Poh Kim’s workforce but its owner too. The data generated even includes customers’ footpaths and the products they tend to interact with. This gives Chee Yong the confidence to make better business decisions. Unlike a traditional sales report which only shows which of his stores are not performing well, the data analytics tools suggests precisely where the problem in a store lies.
“Without these data to confirm my suspicion(s), I used to delay tackling the issues head on,” he says. But as retail spaces become more expensive over the years, it is crucial for the company to identify problems and solve them quickly. Moving ahead, he adds, “adopting technology is the only way Poh Kim can survive.”
Thinking of going digital? The SMEs Go Digital programme by the Info-communications Media Development (IMDA) matches companies to the appropriate tech solutions and offers financial subsidies too. Get started at https://www.imda.gov.sg/smesgodigital