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Singapore retailers tapping technology to woo shoppers

Experts say such technological improvements can help to level the playing field between large and small retailers, especially as costs are becoming less prohibitive.

SINGAPORE: Singapore retailers are doing more to integrate their brick-and-mortar shops with their online stores, to cater to the changing habits of shoppers in today's digital age. According to a recent study done by marketing and technology firm, DigitasLBi, about nine in 10 shoppers research the product they want to buy, before making their purchase in-store.

So mall operator CapitaMalls is ramping up online solutions for tenants. In September, it will be launching a product listing website, J Avenue, for its mall in Jurong, JCube. The website will be a platform for retailers to market their products. By the end of the year, retailers at J Avenue could potentially sell their products via the website through a 'click-and-collect' arrangement, which will help to drive shopper traffic into the mall.

"Shoppers are more tech-savvy now. Before they shop, they like to do research, compare reviews and compare prices. It is also a source for them to get some ideas, some inspiration. And for our tenants, it really is an additional marketing channel,” said Mr Ong Jeun Jye, the head of CapitaMall Labs at CapitaMalls Asia.

CapitaMalls already has a host of digital solutions in its malls, including rewards programmes and data analysis, under its CAPITASTAR programme.

Analysts said the use of technology can level the playing field for smaller retailers. It can help them to better understand their shoppers, and the costs are becoming less prohibitive.

Mr Sagar Tamang, managing director of the Technology Industry Group for Southeast Asia, North Asia and Pacific at Nielsen, said: "It is definitely coming down, so I think it should be much easier to deploy the solution. There is a huge potential for this kind of solution, especially since as a retailer, I am able to pinpoint the consumers, and be able to understand the consumers’ profile through the purchase history and I am able to direct the messages to them, (which are) relevant to these consumers."

Digital app, Tao of Shop, enables smaller retailers to engage consumers in-store. The app is made available to small- and medium-sized enterprises on SingTel's myBusiness portal. Sensors placed around the store can detect and identify shoppers and send relevant promotions to their mobile devices.

According to the DigitasLBi survey, almost 78 per cent of shoppers in Singapore use their smartphone while in-store.

"Most brands today have multiple digital channels like Facebook, other social media, mobile apps and a website. It still does not address the key issue of how they are able to engage the consumer when they are physically in stores. This is where Tao of Shop helps the retailer to identify who is in the store and push the coupon relevant to the individual," said Mr Adrian Teo, founder and CEO of Tao of Shop.

The same study also said that 73 per cent shoppers leave if they were to find the product 5 per cent cheaper somewhere else after consulting their mobile device. Mr Teo said the app can help to address this growing concern, also known as 'showrooming'.

Supermarket retailers Four Seasons Gourmet Market and Rochester Market will be rolling out the technology later this month.

Mr Joe Tan, general manager of Ban Choon Marketing, said: "With a more targeted approach with regards to marketing and promotions, we can customise the discount coupons according to who the customers are and what they have bought before. We believe this will lead to a 50 per cent increase in our sales with customers ordering things online."

According to Nielsen, 57 per cent of shoppers in Asia Pacific buy products on promotion in stores.

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