The new era of experiential retail

Integrating retail concepts … P6-1

The rise of e-commerce has changed the Singapore retail landscape significantly. Well-informed, with their fingers on the pulse of global trends, shoppers are more discerning in their expectations of a shopping experience. Retailers have to be innovative to constantly look to differentiate themselves in order to keep up in a fast-moving environment.

Leveraging technology for an immersive experience

As technology becomes increasingly integrated into consumers’ lifestyles, we recognise the benefits of leveraging digital integration to take shoppers’ experiences beyond what happens instore. Incorporating technology in our marketing strategy has been integral in providing a holistic retail experience that is also in tune with the evolving needs of today’s omni-channel consumer.

A study by McKinsey forecasts that the use of Internet of Things (IoT) in retail could potentially have an economic impact of S$410 billion (US$295 billion) to S$1.2 trillion per year in 2025. IoT will change the way consumers engage in commerce at various touchpoints and how retailers collect data — from in-store personalised promotions and automated checkouts to inventory optimisation.

Increasingly, we can already see technology boosting the retail experience in many more ways. Mobile apps are gaining popularity as a tool to inform and reward shoppers. With more digital-savvy consumers, the online space has become a platform where brands can engage with consumers on their mobile phones. For instance, the ION Orchard app was created to provide a plethora of exclusive shopping and dining deals, offered in partnership with its tenants. It creates online-to-offline (O2O) experiences, enabling shoppers to have instantaneous access at shoppers’ fingertips, wherever they are, within or outside the mall.

Integrating QR codes, beacon technology and the use of mobile applications such as WeChat is also a great way to boost engagement. For example, shoppers can scan QR codes or download exclusive mobile deals to their phones through beacon technology installed at digital mall directories. Another way of incorporating digital is to have virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology where people can experience new products or services in a creative way.

The fast-paced retail business has evolved significantly in recent years, and is expected to do so at a pace faster than ever before. We believe it is crucial for us to continue to innovate and look for ways to surprise and delight shoppers with new and exciting experiences, to keep them coming back for more.

P6-2Rewarding loyalty

Rewarding customers and building loyalty is key in retail today. Many retail stores and malls such as ION Orchard reward members with privileges such as members-only deals, complimentary parking and VIP lounge access, as well as concierge services. These exclusive benefits provide a holistic shopping experience that helps brands stand out from the crowd, and build a loyal following.

Retailers can also look abroad when it comes to rewarding its shoppers, through international collaborations with forward-looking partners. ION Orchard recently launched its first multi-city shopping collaboration with malls in popular shopping cities such as Bangkok and Seoul. In this tri-party mall alliance, members of the respective malls who are tourists in the partner cities get to enjoy the same exclusive privileges as the local members.

At a time where travel for work and leisure has become commonplace, collaborations like these ensure that members continue to be rewarded, even across borders. These partnerships strengthen customer loyalty, making them feel appreciated and valued.ION_Right Facade Ground Up Angle-CMYK

IonRewards P6-3Shopping as an experience

In a world where social media has become such a big part of the consumer lifestyle — shoppers look for authenticity and personalised experiences. They look for brands they can identify with, or brands that allow them the freedom of self-expression. For the retailer, this means personalisation and customisation of products, so that customers walk out of the store with not just a product, but also a belonging.

Introducing flagship or concept stores is another way retailers can attract shoppers. Bringing in new-to-market brands, or offering bespoke services such as in-store personal stylists, offers shoppers an experience that cannot be matched by an online shopping experience. It also appeals to the millennials, as well as more sophisticated shoppers who appreciate the finer things in life and the exclusivity that luxury offers.

ION Orchard engages with its shoppers in a multitude of ways, through numerous unique immersive experiences. In addition to a wide range of art programmes at ION Art, ION Orchard also focuses on combining retail and entertainment with new concepts and unique events that add to a holistic experience. In doing so, it creates an emotional link between brands and consumers.

When ION Orchard introduced the first aerial dance performance and indoor picnic garden on Orchard Road, it created a rich and unique experience combining art, retail, culture and entertainment to engage shoppers and tourists.

In transition

The retail landscape in Singapore is currently in a transitional phase and we are all moving towards a new era of experiential retail, leveraging innovation, creativity and technology to revolutionise the way people shop. By integrating retail concepts as a lifestyle, retailers can build a bigger community by reaching out to new and diverse audiences and strengthening existing customers’ loyalty. ra

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