Shoppers browse the frozen seafood isle at AEON Mall, Long Bien district, Hanoi. (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - Against global recession and financial crisis, Vietnam’s retail industry has cemented its position in the economy as an effective bridge between producers and consumers, actively orienting buyers towards domestic products.

Remarks from the Vietnam Retail Forum (VRF) on December 12 showed that the country’s modern retail industry had come a long way since the Association of Vietnam Retailers (AVR)’s establishment a decade ago.

In 10 years as a World Trade Organisation member, Vietnam’s retail sector braved many challenges on the domestic market that the AVR considered insurmountable without enterprises’ determination to implement the Government’s action plan, said AVR President Dinh Thi My Loan.

Pham Dinh Doan, CEO of the Phu Thai Group, spoke on the national retail and distribution system at the forum, including challenges and solutions under the influence of global economic integration and foreign competition.

Doan said Vietnam certainly had a potential retail market, but local enterprises had not utilised all the possibilities, especially in finding common ground between producers and distributors.

The sector had much to do, from improving human resources to expanding retail activities on the international market.

Development and planning strategies for domestic supermarket chains and smaller scaled convenience stores had been largely spontaneous, said Doan, as he urged corresponding State agencies to formulate specific policies and financial incentives in helping Vietnamese enterprises construct an organised national retail network.

On another note, Nguyen Ky Minh, Deputy Director of the E-commerce Development Centre under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, presented a rather optimistic overview of e-commerce and online retailing in a digital economy.

He said that by 2020, the national E-commerce sector would strive to reach 10 billion USD in sales and account for 5 percent of the country’s total retail sales. This followed Decision 1563 by the Prime Minister.

This showed the Government’s major goal for developing e-commerce potential and drawing firms’ investment and active participation to this field, he added.

Regarding consumer trends, Dang Thuy Ha, Director of Consumer Behaviour Research at Nielsen Vietnam Company, said that the future of Vietnam’s retail industry lay in coping with technological trends, such as electronic payments, in the wake of the 4.0 industrial revolution and make use of them.

Melina Lee, South-East Asia’s Head of Growth at Workplace by Facebook, suggested the use of social media platforms to optimise business capacity for retail distributors.

She recommended Vietnamese sellers to take notice of the 2016 collaborative platform Workplace by Facebook, which allowed enterprises to connect, communicate and collaborate with ease and professionalism on the basis of social network.

Statistics from the General Statistics Office of Vietnam showed that the country’s retail market had grown rapidly from 70 billion USD in 2010 to 158 billion USD in 2017, accounting for about 25 percent of the total consumption market. It was expected to reach 180 billion USD by 2020.

The forum attracted more than 200 participants, including representatives from big names in the country’s retail distribution sector, such as Kangaroo Group Jsc, Big C, Mega Market, state management agencies, industry associations, and economic experts.-VNA