Innovation at centre of AEON’s expansion

January 05, 2023 | 09:00
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AEON Group has defined Vietnam as the second hub beside Japan to accelerate investment. This is because it has plenty of potential for development thanks to high population growth rate and the growing middle class. Living standards of people is also improving.

Vietnam’s government has set the high economic target to be equivalent to Thailand in the future. They also have supportive policies for investment and creating favourable conditions for foreign investment. Moreover, Vietnam is a country that already has a strong relationship with Japan.

Innovation at centre of AEON’s expansion
Furusawa Yasuyuki - General director, AEON Vietnam

However, we still face some difficulties expanding our business in Vietnam. With the mission of enriching the customers’ lifestyles and the local communities where AEON locates, our strategy for shopping malls is to prioritise suburban areas. Nevertheless, the infrastructure in such areas has not developed sufficiently enough yet.

Besides that, some rules are not yet clear in terms of foreign investment, although the limitation of foreign-invested enterprises in retail was overhauled over a decade ago. In addition, the capability of domestic suppliers is unequal, but at the same time customer expectations get higher and higher.

It is difficult to compare the business situation with the previous year because there are many uncorrelated factors, as well as the pandemic aspect to take into account. However, in general, the business situation in 2021 was very difficult, so, 2022 gradually recovered and boasted better growth.

AEON Vietnam’s business situation has also gradually improved and become more positive. Customers have returned to shop with us, but the numbers are not fully recovered. The shopping frequency also decreased, and customer numbers after 8pm is not equal to previous years.

Due to the change in context, market, consumers, and competitors, AEON Vietnam must keep up with changes and always try new challenges and try them first. If not, we cannot stay competitive in the market.

So, we have prepared strategies to compete. We will promote digitalisation with our e-commerce site and new projects such as BOXED and A-point. In regards to business expansion, being flexible is the key to accelerate the opening stores in multi-formats and of varying sizes.

In addition, we will try our best to provide local customers with high-quality products following AEON standards, at reasonable prices, through promoting AEON Private Brand products that are manufactured in Vietnam. This also contributes to stabilising the supply chain in the domestic market and supporting local suppliers in enhancing their capability.

Last but not least, AEON Vietnam will keep trying new things, for example the My Closet fashion brand – which is for young customers with trendy styles. The prices are reasonable so that customers can find it easy to choose and buy.

In 2022, AEON Vietnam implemented many new initiatives. First is the standardisation and expansion of the AEON MaxValu supermarket system, which is the foundation to continually accelerate store presence in the future. Secondly is the opening of a new model – general merchandise stores (GMS) – with the first store called AEON The Nine. It is our new format, which is inside a partner’s building and covers 1,000 square metres.

Furthermore, we have established our product research and development department to bring more quality products to customers and support local suppliers’ capability enhancement. Along with My Closet, we also launched a Sport & Activities counter inside our first GMS.

After Lunar New Year, the situation will be more challenging because of the impact from geopolitics, interest rates, inflation, global logistics, and petrol prices. So, people will likely tighten their spending.

Elsewhere, in responding to the changing habits of customers to prioritise convenience, AEON Vietnam will focus on digitalisation through our hands-on delivery service in e-commerce, and increase benefits for customers with A-point, which is a loyal customer points integration between all AEON businesses in Vietnam. Furthermore, we will promote cashless payments and accelerate the expansion of more stores with multi-formats to meet customers’ latest shopping behaviours.

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By Furusawa Yasuyuki

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