Céline DELACHARLERIE, our Asia Retail Innovation Correspondent and Martin Pasquier, co-founder and Director of the InnovationIsEveywhere agency, take stock of the situation of retailers in Singapore in the face of the Covid-19 health crisis.
In Singapore, as everywhere else, businesses have had to adapt to a new world where the main challenge is no longer to attract customers to stores through engaging experiences, but rather to ensure a hygienic and as expeditious a shopping experience as possible. The new in-store experience in Singapore involves a government-mandated check-in system, temperature taking at the store entrance, mandatory mask wearing, and the use of technology to effectively disinfect or respect social distancing.
Like most major cities, Singapore was confined for several weeks from 7 April to 1 June. The period of confinement led to a 52.1% drop in sales in May compared to the previous year. The reopening took place in several phases. The stores were only able to reopen during the second phase, which began on June 19, by adhering to very strict security measures, including regular cleaning, occupancy limits, and mandatory customer temperature readings. Floor markings to avoid queues at the checkout or in the fitting rooms appeared, while test samples disappeared from the shelves.
Some businesses recorded a peak in traffic as they emerged from reopening, while others are seeing a gradual increase in traffic week by week.
5 innovations of reopening in Singapore
1) SafeEntry, the check-in app for any store visit
Among the security measures, customers are required to check in at all the businesses they visit, either by scanning a QR Code (the most common method), by scanning their National Identity Card (NRIC), or via the government’s mobile application (SingPass). This system, called SafeEntry and developed in two weeks in February at the dawn of the pandemic, was crucial to enable secure reopening. More than 9 million check-ins and check-outs are recorded on the platform every day. The recovered data is not shared with merchants, and is used to identify individuals at risk more quickly.
2) The Daiso brand communicates to its customers the peak hours in real time
Daiso, a very popular Japanese retailer in Singapore that sells only $2 items, has established an online service to communicate to customers about in-store traffic in near real time. The data is updated every two hours. Daiso did not communicate on the technology used to retrieve this data.
3) Shopping malls invest in disinfection technologies
CapitaLand and Frasers Property, owners of most shopping centres in Singapore, use anti-microbial coating on some touch surfaces, disinfecting floor mats at the entrance, disinfecting robots that emit ultraviolet radiation to kill germs (Sunburst UV Bot) or air disinfection systems in elevators (PhotoPlasma).
CapitaLand deploys its robots in the busiest areas and after opening hours. In addition, they communicate extensively about these disinfection measures.
4) The luxury shopping centre The Shoppes reopens only for loyal customers and encourages online shopping with a concierge service
The Shoppes is a shopping mall adjacent to Singapore’s iconic Marina Bay Sands hotel, consisting mainly of luxury shops. During containment, the centre has launched a new concierge service that makes customer purchases for them and delivers them free of charge. During reopening, the shopping centre reopened only to members of the Sands Rewards loyalty programme, to ensure security measures were in place for the first two weeks. A way to reward loyal customers. The concierge service, which was launched with 10 brands and now has 60 brands, remains accessible to all. The shopping centre will launch a new option called “Curbside Concierge” allowing customers to pick up their online purchases from their vehicle.
5) Live streaming is still in use
Containment had accelerated a trend that had begun to gain popularity in Singapore: live video auctioning on Facebook. Several merchants have been introduced to this practice in recent months and continue to use this platform to relieve congestion in markets or stores. This sales channel is particularly popular with older people.