Singapore has felt the disruptive power of online shopping more severely than other Southeast Asian countries. Whilst traditional Singapore retail stores are struggling to keep themselves afloat, with the triple threat of rising costs, declining sales and disruption from e-commerce, Singaporeans have never had more choices and options when it comes to shopping online. 

In fact, the use of technology in Singapore retail isn’t just limited to consumers buying goods online; traditional retailers could stand to benefit too if only they could make use of technology to reinvent their business model and processes. 

The key question is: how can the use of technology help businesses to enhance shopping experiences in a way that will ultimately help brands to realise the fullest potential of e-commerce, even in a brick & mortar store?

Take for example Love, Bonito’s retail flagship store at Funan Lifestyle Mall.  In creating an “Insta-worthy” experience for shoppers, this savvy e-commerce retailer has extended itself to a whole new segment of on-demand audiences, while delivering a better service to their e-Commerce shoppers and bringing more people from all walks of life to experience the brand. These changes are no doubt the product of the wealth of customer from their first two retail shops combined with their e-commerce operation. 

The key to creating the right elements of experiential marketing remains in understanding what consumers want and to provide the service or product in a seamless and differentiated fashion.  Today’s shoppers are expecting more and more from brands that they use and are quick to abandon brands that do not live up to those expectations. Clever use of consumer data from e-commerce activities can help retailers to personalise experiences for shoppers both online & offline, as well as drive sales and increase loyalty.

A recent example I encountered myself was when a piece of furniture caught my eye on a small furniture shop’s Instagram post. After making an enquiry about sizing and colour options, I decided to go down to the store to see it for myself. The owner, recognising that i was potentially the same customer whom had made enquiries earlier the same week, was quick to welcome me almost instantly and engaged me with further details of the item and it’s uses. In the end I ended up buying more than what I went in for. 

Combining the science of using data from it’s social commerce engagements with the art of good old fashioned customer service as part of an omnichannel experience made me feel special and valued as a customer. And it worked. Smart integration of data from social commerce for retailers like Love, Bonito and the small furniture store has enabled them to reinvent themselves and this approach could help bring a mobile-first audience to a sector that is ready for a retail reboot.

So the reality is this; a retailer’s ability to create a seamless, quality experience from finding the store, to trying on virtually or physically, will define their very success in the new frontiers of retail commerce where lines are blurred.

This thought leadership article was written by Linda Lim, Head of Content, Partnerships and Market Development, Singapore Press Holdings and Member of the IAB SEA+India Commerce Committee.