When it comes to retail, Singapore is ahead of the game. The country has embraced mobile-first, omni-channel shopping and new payment systems faster and more fully than most countries in the world. Destinations like the Funan Mall show the world that Singapore is at the forefront of modern retail, completely rethinking the way customers interact with brands in the real and digital worlds.
With such a modern approach to retail, it’s clear that The Great Singapore Sale was due for huge brand refresh it saw this year. The 25-year-old retail event, always a draw for tourists, was this year re-branded to GSS: Experience Singapore. The need to reinvent the sale became apparent as numbers began to decline over the last few years. The future of the sale was in question as early as 2016, when one expert noted, “The GSS has lost its meaning…It needs to be rebranded. There must be a purpose, otherwise, it is just another sale, and consumers are pretty bored by it.”
In addition to the name change, the massive retail event was cut in half, reduced from ten weeks to just over five – and featured more artistic events and festival elements, including a huge fashion show to kick off the sale. 300 dancers and models took over Orchard Road on June 21, showing off the work of local designers and artists. Initial reports indicate that the events did draw more foot traffic to the district than previous years.
It remains to be seen if the changes to the sale had a measurable impact: the numbers aren’t yet in. But according to recent Blis research, Singaporeans themselves never lost interest in GSS. Our research found that 81 percent of survey respondents in Singapore remain interested in shopping for in-store deals during the sales, and 39 percent were “very interested.” For nearly a third of shoppers, Orchard Road is the top shopping area.
GoSpree: GSS goes mobile
In the face of declining sales, the Singapore Retailers Association launched the GoSpree app in 2017. The app featured more than 100 participating retailers, restaurants, hotels and attractions, and literally tens of thousands of digital coupons. Stores that took advantage of the app’s location data features could offer access to flash sales for nearby shoppers. The app also featured contests promising thousands of dollars in prizes. In 2018, the app was improved to add geofencing, so that coupons offered by nearby participating merchants would appear when shoppers searched for offers by location. GoSpree has been credited with improving sales at GSS since its introduction two years ago.
Since 80 percent of Singapore’s shoppers use a mobile phone when in a store – and 43 percent of shoppers use their mobiles to look for coupons and offers – the GoSpree app seems like a smart idea for retailers to adopt to attract more shoppers. However, there’s more retailers can do. According to the Real Retail study, consumers admitted that they’re most likely to interact with ads on Facebook (73 percent) and Instagram (58 percent). It makes good sense, then, for retailers to consider reaching interested, nearby shoppers with offers on these platforms in addition to GoSpree.
Our research also found that 32 percent of shoppers were influenced by billboards to go into a nearby store. So, combining online ads with OOH may also be an effective strategy, especially during GSS. Retailers who participate in the special events around GSS can also use the same location-targeting strategy to retarget users who’ve been to those events.
Making the most of GSS – even after the sale
GSS creates a wonderful opportunity for retailers in Singapore to attract new shoppers. But the affair doesn’t have to end when the sale does. Retailers that brought in new visitors – whether to their store, to an offer within the app, or to a pop-up shop – have the opportunity to build a relationship with those new customers even after GSS. Retail marketers should consider retargeting those shoppers who interacted with them during the event, offering items similar to those they shopped during the sale, or perhaps promoting free shipping to consumers who visited from areas serviced by their online business. The sale is a great first step in building lifelong customers.
Singapore is on the cutting edge of retail, bringing the digital and the physical together in ways that transcend traditional shopping. GSS has always been more than a sale – it’s been a way to show the world that Singapore truly is a global shopping destination. For retailers within Singapore, leveraging the mobile opportunity is a lucrative way to make the GSS more profitable than ever, through those five weeks and beyond.
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