The Latest in Global Convenience

The Asian convenience retail industry is ripe with innovation.

August 02, 2022

Mark Wohltmann's CSA Adventures

By Mark Wohltmann

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The month of July started with some home office time and catching up with colleagues, members, partners and friends of NACS via Zoom. One good byproduct of the pandemic is the increased openness of using digital tools whenever travel is not possible or fiscally sensible. Of course, my home office week came at a time of all-time high temperatures in normally cold and rainy England.

After sweating my way through some Zoom calls, I broke another sweat when realizing how much airfare prices had gone up, but I had to get to the NACS Convenience Summit Asia in Singapore. After scanning all the usual travel sites, I at least found an OK-priced economy flight from London to Frankfurt. Then a different ticket from Frankfurt via Bahrain to Singapore. Then a budget airline from Singapore to Seoul. Then the same way back with an adventurous stay in a windowless pod at Singapore airport on my way back.

Of course, one flight was delayed, one connection missed, more time than planned in airports—our new normal in the post-pandemic travel world.


The 2022 NACS Convenience Summit Asia in Singapore was a great success in every sense. Although we had a smaller group than in normal years, as many Asian countries and companies still have travel bans in place, content and networking was very intense.


Here are some of the highlights:

Henry Armour, president and CEO, NACS

While the world can learn from Asia and its leading position on technology and operational excellence topics, Asian retailers and suppliers can apply learnings, for example, from Europe on ESG and regulatory issues.

We started with a day of NACS Ideas 2 Go store tours, looking at fresh bakery items in petrol convenience, high-ceiling architecture with Chinese chandeliers, the rise of center-store products sales, sustainable infrastructure and more.

Johann Hall, director, NielsenIQ, Singapore

Despite countries across APAC showing very different shopping habits, Asian consumers across the region intend to spend less out of home in the next 12 months.

Boon Keat Chua, director of channels, NTUC FairPrice

Being a social enterprise with a mission to offer affordable groceries is great, but you still need to innovate, diversify formats and adapt to changing consumers’ needs in order to stay relevant beyond price.

Peter Liddell, partner and global operations center of excellence lead, KPMG

Advancements in product tracking technology throughout the supply chain can reduce product-handling touch points by shortcutting routes, for example, direct from port to point of sale and circumventing warehouses when needed as one part of the solution and dealing with delays caused by supply chain disruption.

Gavin Pathross, founder and CEO, Ross Digital

Using retail robotics to fulfill repetitive tasks and making them consistent frees up time for employees to focus on customer engagement and hospitality. 

Simon Torring, co-founder, Chalawan

Once you start selling online, your customers will expect seamless integration across all channels, be it sales or media channels, so omnichannel is not an optional strategy but mandatory thinking.


We also held the 2022 NACS Asian Convenience Retail Awards and celebrated the winners during the gala dinner. Congratulations to:

And of course, I have been talking about my crazy socks too much, and you get what you ask for. Our marketing department made me special superhero socks with my face on them. Oh dear, where will this lead?


After Singapore, I flew on to Seoul, our destination for the 2024 NACS Convenience Summit Asia (2023 will be held in Bangkok, Thailand). During this pre-con visit, I scouted the hotel venues to ensure a great experience, toured the retail market to prepare the NACS Ideas 2 Go store tours and met with retailers, suppliers, university professors and retail experts to prepare the event structure. A lot can (and will) change before 2024, but I am already excited that we will showcase new payment features, digitalization, new ways of customer experience, social activation and much, much more.

But back to 2022. July is over and the next heatwave is on its way (of course, when I’ll have an office week).

See you all in August, somewhere in the world.

Learn more about 2023 Convenience Summit Asia – Bangkok February 28-March 2 at

Mark Wohltmann is director, NACS Global. He can be reached at