Judging by the latest marketing trends, it is quite obvious that the offline and online worlds are emerging at an unprecedented rate, especially in retailing and shopping. A study done by Deloitte Digital shows how consumer’s use of mobile devices and computers in making their shopping decisions is affecting their business. Especially within Singapore, it has reached a point where retailers can no longer ignore the impact of digital marketing on their businesses. They now face the daunting task of finding a middle ground between online and offline activities that will be the most beneficial for their businesses. Below, we look at some of the key areas in which digital media has impacted the retail space within Singapore.
Digital Technology Cuts Operational Costs
Shopping has become an unofficial national pastime activity for most Singaporeans. However, technology has really altered the way Singaporeans shop today. By 2015, the country had the highest mobile penetration in the world. Increased use of smartphones has given mobile commerce a great boost. Analysts say by 2025, Singapore’s e-commerce market will be worth well over US$5.4 billion.
From the perspective of any digital agency in Singapore, offline retail is becoming harder by the day. Retail costs are on the rise due to skyrocketing rental, this is especially the case for prime retail space. Also, the country’s labor market is becoming very tight due to the government’s policies on foreign labor. Hence, it is not a surprise why major retail players including Carrefour, Toshiba, and Borders have already left.
To cope with the rising costs of running an offline retail business, many stores have opted to go omnichannel, which basically means merging a brick-and-mortar store with online marketing strategies such as having a website, a mobile app, and a strong presence on social media. This is a hybrid model that has helped many businesses across the world reduce rental space and attract more customers.
The Rise of the Digital Consumer
Digital media has had a significant impact on modern retailing due to the rise of consumers who are not only price-sensitive but technologically enabled too. A majority of today’s consumers are very good at using technology to find the best deals in the shortest time possible. Many are quite adept at using their smartphones to compare prices and product features before they make a purchasing decision.
Consumers are always comparing retail prices against online deals. In fact, some clothes retailers, such as Reiss, have taken to encouraging shoppers to check their prices online prior to shopping. The rise of digitalized consumers has had a major impact on retail business all over the world.
Click-and-collect Business Model
Another digital marketing trend that has had a significant impact on retail business is the click-and-collect model. Usually, a professional digital marketing agency will be involved in putting together a highly optimized online presence. Not only will the frontend of this online presence look user friendly and visually appealing, it is also well integrated with a retailer’s inventory at the backend. Whenever a consumer places his or her order online, the system will instantly process the payment, ensure that the item is in stock within a designated store, notify the store of the order and send a confirmation to the consumer that the purchase is complete (with the instruction to head down for collection). As much as this may seem to be a long process, it is all done in a couple of seconds once an actual order is placed on the website, similar to a conventional e-commerce transaction.
A good example of a retailer in Singapore that has implemented the click-and-collect business model is Challenger. It allows customers to buy products from their online store and then pick up the purchases at any of their 5 outlets. The online store allows Challenger to stock over 10 times more products than larger outlets such as Funan Mall. Such is the absolute beauty of a click-and-collect business model.
Such a process is similar to what is commonly done for retail services (such as spa treatments, hairdressing, yoga lessons etc). In this case, a consumer will research about a service online before making an online reservation to head down physically to a designated outlet at a particular date and time. By looking a little deeper, you will find that a very fundamental strategy can be applied to make them very successful:
- Optimizing an online presence
- Driving targeted traffic through digital marketing
- Purchase is made / Leads are generated as a result
Depending on their budgets, some may opt to execute such a strategy themselves while others will engage a digital marketing agency. In any case, the beauty lies in the fact that it is an expandable strategy and should be applied to a certain extent for each and every retail business.
The Rise of Social Media
Social media has penetrated almost every aspect of our lives, especially shopping. Social media has had a huge impact on businesses of all sizes in more ways than one. Retailers are now changing their operational strategies to adapt to the changing times. It has become imperative for every business owner to use social media in marketing their brands and products as well as in communicating and engaging with customers. Whether or not just maintaining a Facebook page and/or Twitter account is sufficient for a retail business on the social media front has become increasingly questionable. With its ever increasing influence, here are a few ways social media has affected retail businesses:
Marketing Brands, Products, and Services
Social media is a platform that is on a continuous process of evolution which makes it important for business owners to find new ways to implement their social marketing strategies. Before social media was born, the standard marketing practice was to send fliers to customers via mail, radio and TV commercials, and a heavy dependence on word of mouth or recommendation marketing. These marketing practices are still useful today but not as effective as social media. Social media provides an effective platform where consumers can connect with retailers to discover and purchase the latest products or services.
Communicating with Consumers
Social media has affected the way retailers communicate with potential and existing customers. Rather than writing a letter to the store or calling a customer service representative, consumers can now communicate with the business via a Facebook page, Twitter, or any of the company’s social media profile. This is the surest way of getting the quickest response.
In an ultra competitive environment like Singapore, it is never a walk in the park for retailers. For each and every product that they carry, a comparable one is located just round the corner. In essence, consumers are utterly spoilt for choice. To stay competitive, there is the pressing need for retailers to increase their brand awareness, manage relationships with clients and stay ahead of latest trends. These can all be done by embracing digital media and kickstarting marketing initiatives on this medium. If you own a retail business and have yet to make the shift to digital media, it is high time you consulted a Singapore marketing agency on how to do so in the fastest, most efficient and cost effective manner.