The great read in a nutshell: Post-pandemic shoppers are looking for that little something extra

A 2019 press release from Funan owner CapitaLand described the mall as an “experiential and activity-based retail” venue that includes an indoor rock climbing wall and an indoor bike path.

CapitaLand also jointly manages Jewel with Changi Airport Group.

Between Funan and Jewel, the experts interviewed had little doubt that the latter was a runaway success and a better example of experiential shopping done right.

Nevertheless, Professor Loh of NUS noted the fact that Jewel has the advantage of being located right next to Terminal 1 of Changi Airport.

“I’ve told people before that when you arrive in Singapore via Terminal 1, you don’t arrive in a country, you arrive in a mall,” Prof Loh said, adding that it gives Jewel a flow. constant new visitors in the form of tourists.

“While for Funan, after a while you have to cater to regular visitors. So now when you go to Funan, the novelty factor of 2019 has worn off.”

At least one Funan business said there were months when its revenue was in the red, while TODAY spotted other stores that have already closed.

About six months after Funan reopened, to much fanfare, Singapore confirmed its first case of Covid-19 in January 2020, and the virus quickly spread rapidly, ultimately causing more than two years of chaos for businesses across the country. the island.

Mr. Gary Lin, Deputy Principal of Temasek Polytechnic’s (TP) School of Business, said the jury was still out on whether Funan would pass.

“His (experiential offerings) are probably useful, but whether it’s worth the investment remains to be seen,” Lin said. “Jewel is likely to be more successful than Funan due to a higher concentration of tourists, attractive environment, range of food and drink, and broader appeal.”

EXPERIENTIAL RETAIL IS NOT A PANACEA

Although the experiential concept has been touted as the future of retail, it’s not necessarily the best way forward for all brick-and-mortar stores, the experts interviewed said.

Suburban malls, for example, are unlikely to need them because they serve a ‘utilitarian function’, Prof Loh said.

“Visitors to these malls often just want to buy something quickly, get back to where they’re staying. Too much of this experiential thing can be quite boring,” he said.

And whether or not the experiential concept works for a business is also related to a practical matter, said TP’s Lin.

“It’s about whether it’s worth the investment. Can retailers afford to do it once and then continuously innovate and transform?” he said.

For a multi-brand fashion store owner in Wheelock Place, the answer is no.

Madame Irene Lee, the owner of Lafont, said it was not only a challenge for her to digitize her operations, but she also lacked the expertise to pivot her business model.

The 53-year-old, who runs the store with another employee, said: ‘For retailers like us, we barely have time too. When you are in the mall, you start working at 11am and close at 9pm. Then there is the question of manpower. All this represents costs.

But given the quietness on her side of the mall, Mdm Lee said there have been months when she has been unable to cover her monthly overhead costs, which can amount to more than 10 000 Singapore dollars.

Yet she enjoys the patronage of a pool of regular customers, who have become friends over the years.

“Sometimes they drop by for a coffee, and maybe I have something new to offer that they buy. Other times I just offer to alter their clothes, which is an extra service,” said Mdm Lee.

And it seems that Mdm Lee offers a form of experiential shopping – without even realizing it.

Providing customers with a memorable experience doesn’t always have to be grand. Sometimes it’s just about adding a personal touch.

“Your experiential event could be something as small as inviting your famous customers over for an after-hours shopping glass of wine and then posting it on Instagram,” said Ms. Talathi-Lamb of du Boulay Contracts.

“It’s always a positive experience, and it shows that you’ve treated the people who buy with you and buy from you in a special way and that goes a long way.”

She added: “So it doesn’t have to be a big event, it can be something small but engaging and it can make a big difference in how your customers perceive you.”

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