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Mall culture puts Singapore ahead of global ecommerce game

One of the biggest changes currently happening in the world of retail is the introduction of omnichannel services. In the hope of optimising consumer experience, retailers are now recognising a desire amongst their customers for a seamless integration of online and offline services – the modern consumer craves the option of shopping across a variety of different platforms at will.

Yet while the rest of the world is making a conscious move towards this new way of shopping, it seems that Singapore is already well ahead of the game in this respect. And the secret to their success? The culture amongst Singaporeans of joining two contradicting passions: digital shopping and an unwavering dedication to mall culture. Once described as ‘one big shopping centre’, Singapore’s culture and geography is characterised by the vast number of over- and underground shopping areas which carve out the island’s landscape, functioning as a prime location for shopping, eating and socialising.

E-commerce and omnichannel evolving together
Over the last five years, Singapore has experienced a dramatic increase in e-commerce. In fact, as the infographic below demonstrates, online spending figures have more than tripled. However, despite wholeheartedly embracing online shopping due to a national penchant for all things tech, Singaporeans haven’t neglected brick-and-mortar stores in favour of shopping exclusively online. Instead, shoppers have sought out multichannel services that embrace both digital and physical – a move that has put them one step ahead in the world of retail. In many other regions worldwide, e-commerce is still considered to be a threat to physical stores, with only the most forward-thinking of brands beginning to realise the benefits of offering consumers an integrated service that combines the best of both the physical and digital shopping worlds.

Singapore Malls

The omnichannel shopping experience
What omnichannel services offer is what every consumer craves: choice and variety. For example, presenting customers with the option of voucher codes that can be used both online and in physical stores, or perhaps allowing for a simple ‘click & collect’ service, where the customer can collect their products immediately from a nearby store once purchasing online, as an alternative to paying postage and waiting for delivery. Omnichannel can also involve making webstores compatible with mobile shopping, so that it’s possible to make a purchase easily when on the move via your mobile phone. With the rate of smartphone penetration now having soared to around 90 per cent in Singapore, this is something that the population is undeniably craving.

Shingo Okamoto, head of E-Commerce at Rakuten observes that in order to be successful in regions like Singapore, it’s essential that brands respect the desire amongst local consumers for fluidity between online and offline options. He states that “to thrive retailers must develop a cross-division collaboration culture, one which sees online and offline sales as complementary and intrinsically linked and develops a shopping experience based on these multi-channel findings.”

Singapore’s shopping malls are therefore sure to prosper, as despite Singapore becoming continuously immersed in the e-commerce world, omnichannel services are simultaneously on the up, and the public will continue to embrace malls as a space for immersing one’s self in the joy of consumerism. A great example of innovative omnichannel options already being put into practice in Singapore is the interactive ‘magic mirror’ option available at Jurong Point shopping centre, which allows you to virtually try on items on a life-sized screen. Customers are able to try on multliple outfit options and combinations from a variety of different stores hosted within the shopping mall, al at the click of a button.

Rather than prove a threat to brick-and-mortar stores, rising e-commerce levels in Singapore are merely encouraging merchants to take the initiative to be one step ahead of online shopping trends. Singapore’s loyalty to mall culture has simply prompted the forward-thinking development of new and innovative cross-channel services that integrate the online and offline shopping worlds for consumers to enjoy.

Katie Paterson

Katie Paterson is a Researcher for global money-saving platform, Flipit.com. Analysing digital advertising and marketing trends in Asia and Oceania, Katie works with a strong focus on social network, e-commerce and m-commerce trends. Originally hailing from Scotland but having spent the last three years living, working and completing a Research Master’s in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, she has published on topics associated with global e-commerce trends, consumer behaviour, and the future of shopping.