When Eddie Chng founded DiSa Digital Safety in 2007, he was driven by the sole purpose of reducing theft among retailers and their suppliers – particularly those involved in selling electronic devices. Witnessing theft first-hand was a catalyst for him in coming up with a solution for a common problem in the industry.
The group CEO and managing director has been hands-on in the development of the company’s award-winning DiSa Anti-Theft System, a digital tool that has since transformed the retail sector by reducing shoplifting or organised theft with its tight security.
He shares more about this industry game-changer and how he sees his company moving forward.
What motivated you to form DiSa Digital Safety? What drove you to build a company that focuses on digital security solutions?
While driving to the Berlin IFA Show in 2006, we stopped by a gas petrol station for coffee. There, I chanced upon a theft that involved SD cards. The event motivated me to come up with a solution to stop electronics theft. As an engineer, I like to solve and create solutions to problems that may affect the public like shoplifting, as that can result in retail businesses losing profit and passing down the pilferage cost to the consumers.
It took me eight months to develop the solution. My current team and I went to great lengths to create SD cards to prove that my anti-theft solution, a digital ecosystem, works. Though the proof of concept (POC) that we did in the retail market of Germany in 2013 did not go well, it pushed us to improve our solution to make it more seamless. In 2014, we revisited the market but this time, we went to the US. It was the Lunar New Year in 2016 when one of the largest retailers in the US contacted us – what a big red packet it was. Without delay, we geared up and delivered our POC in July 2016 and it was a huge success. We went live in the US in May 2017, with 5,000 of their outlets participating across the nation.
That anti-theft solution is now known as the DiSa Asset Protection Benefit Denial Technology. Why focus on an approach that involves point of sale activation?
The only way to deter electronic devices being stolen is to deny the offenders from using or reselling the item. Locking the electronic devices in cages will not solve the problem. It will just lower the shopping experience and it will not stop organised crimes. Hence, the only way is to use technology to disable the items until you pay for it. Once it is purchased, the user will have the key to unlock it – all done by software – delivered through the cloud.
Why is your company helping out the retail sector in particular? Why does the sector need digital security the most?
If retail crimes go up, regardless of whether they happen internally or with external factors, costs will go up and be passed down to me and you – the consumers. Old methods of anti-theft solutions, such as electronic products locked in cabinets, have lost their effectiveness. Users are cut off from their sense of touch for the products, except for a sample item on display. Customers will also need a salesperson to assist them if they decide to buy, which is another inefficient process because it can bring too much hassle to the consumers. Such solutions defeat the purpose of shopping.
What does digital safety mean to you and why is it important? What are your plans for DiSA in the future?
I see digital safety as my dream for all. DiSa is my way to contribute and give back to society by lowering crimes, even if it is in a small way. We continue to serve the US market as it is the largest retail market in the world. We are now gaining traction and are aiming to engage more retailers and their suppliers to make DiSa an industry standard.