“Click-and-mortar” transforms the Great Singapore Sale

“Click-and-mortar” transforms the Great Singapore Sale
Singapore Retailers Association launched the 24th edition of The Great Singapore Sale, on June 9, 2017, with a new digital mobile application, GoSpree. Users can scan the QR code to download the app. Photo: Esther Leong/TODAY
Retailers push online sales to reach more consumers
Published: 10:20 PM, June 10, 2017

SINGAPORE — The Great Singapore Sale (GSS) has kicked off with a big bang this year with online retailers firing on all cylinders, offering hefty discounts and shopping promotions, even as brick-and-mortar stores strive to put the final pieces of their digital strategy in place. 

This year, the GSS 2017 will run from June 9 to August 13. Online retailers have, however, been holding their own pre-GSS sales to capture market share.

Lazada Singapore, for instance, said it has seen an increase of eight times in sales on the first day of its “mega GSS sale” held over June 6 to 8, in comparison to its GSS sale last year. The online chain had rolled out flash sales and discounts of up to 90 per cent, as official host partner of the 99%SME scheme, which features local merchants on a specially-curated online marketplace.

“Our key focus is enhancing the experience for shoppers”, said Mr Alexis Lanternier, CEO of Lazada Singapore. “Shoppers are still looking for the brands they love but are increasingly attracted by the wider choice and exclusive deals. Now that Lazada has introduced free shipping storewide and free returns, nothing is stopping shoppers from skipping the hassle of offline shopping.”

“By increasing our warehouse capacity, we ensure that products are delivered to shoppers on time, even during peak periods like GSS,” Mr Lanternier told TODAY.

Other online retailers gearing up for the GSS with enticing offers include Zalora, Reebonz, Megafash, HipVan, Qoo10 and Love, Bonito. More than ever, retailers are seeking to persuade customers to open their wallets amid sluggish consumer spending.

The retail sales index for March 2017 by the Singapore Department of Statistics showed an overall decline in retail sales of 0.3 per cent from the previous month. Department stores reflected a fall in 1.3 per cent from February, and a slump of 3.6 per cent compared to the same period last year. 

In an attempt to “remake GSS 2017”, the Singapore Retailers Association (SRA) has launched a mobile app, GoSpree, to attract younger consumers and tech-savvy shoppers. Retailers that TODAY spoke to said the look and feel of GSS is undergoing a transformation.

“The face of GSS has now changed with many more online players in the fray… It is turning more digital and personalised but for sure (GSS) remains relevant despite many other online sale events like the Black Fridays or Cyber Mondays,” said HipVan co-founder Mr Danny Tan.  

According to Qoo10, Singaporean shoppers are now looking beyond discounts to brands providing genuinely engaging shopping experiences. The online marketplace for small retailers has so far recorded a 25 per cent increase in sales during its run-up to the GSS this year compared with same time last year. The e-tailer has introduced a quick delivery service allowing for online shoppers in Singapore to receive products bought from local merchants within three hours of purchase.

“Shoppers are seeking unique services that add value to their overall shopping journey... and this year’s GSS looks to be the perfect chance for retailers to launch such initiatives,” said Mr Hyun Wook Cho, Singapore country manager at Qoo10. 

Initiatives like the GoSpree app are promising because they encourage consumers to visit brick-and-mortar stores by injecting the convenience of digital technology into physical shopping experiences, he added.

The GoSpree mobile app allows users to download discount coupons and redeem them at participating retail outlets. Bringing retailers, shopping malls, dining outlets, leisure activities and hotels at your fingertips, the app seeks to leverage on technology to disrupt traditional consumer purchasing habits, said Mr R Dhinakaran, SRA president.

Brick-and-mortar stores, meanwhile, have also jumped on to the digital bandwagon. Baby essentials store Mothercare for instance, has started a “click and collect” program where customers can buy products online and collect them in-store. Japanese retailer Muji has also aligned its online store with its off-line outlets offering its members special promotions for GSS. 

Ms Sim Yun Ying, marketing manager at Uniqlo Singapore told TODAY that the clothing retailer will introduce new collections during the GSS this year which will be available on both its online and physical stores.

Workshops and “live” stations at its global flagship store in Orchard Central will provide customers with a more “interactive and enhanced shopping experience.”

Traditional brick-and-mortar retailers here have been buffeted by competition from e-commerce, the manpower crunch, rising business costs and lacklustre tourist spending. According to Mr Pang Fu Wei, managing director at Mothercare, the entire industry is undergoing a major shake-up and the biggest challenge will be restructuring businesses, changing of mindsets and retraining the workforce to be well-positioned for the future.

“The root of the problem is that Singapore is losing its shine as a shopping destination for Asia. In order for Singapore to remain competitive, not only do business costs need to come down, Singaporeans have to become more service oriented. Singapore must develop and nurture more home-grown brands to reinvigorate our retail scene,” said Mr Pang.

Retailers need to look beyond price cuts to attract shoppers, according to Dr Jochen Krauss, managing partner at Simon-Kucher & Partners, a retail pricing consultancy.

“Not all shoppers are price sensitive. Retailers must know to segment their customers and appeal to each of the groups with an appropriate strategy and engaging propositions,” he said. “Here, we see an overdose of price cuts that is making all promotions look alike and retailers are ending up with wafer thin margins.”

Now in its 24th year, the GSS has developed into an anchor event in Singapore’s retail calendar, according to Ms Ranita Sundramoorthy, director of attractions, dining and retail at Singapore Tourism Board. 

“As consumer trends are evolving rapidly, it is important for events to constantly innovate and stay relevant to audiences. This is why SRA has embarked on several changes to refresh the GSS 2017.”