The horror that is Sim Lim Square.
For the uninitiated, this place is scarier than your average heartland mobile phone shop, but for those who know it well, it is a paradise full of awesome tech and gadgets.
But what if there was a way for consumers who are not as savvy with the place to check for prices easily?
Two guys want to help with that, and through their site simlim.sg, they also hope to change Sim Lim Square’s reputation for the better.
What Is simlim.sg?
In a nutshell, it is basically an online platform where you can find a myriad of IT and electronics gadgetry and components from merchants within Sim Lim Square.
Gone are the days where you go from shop to shop asking for prices and looking at large, confusing printed leaflets.
Gone too are time consuming sessions of going through online price lists of only a handful of stores on forums such as HardWare Zone and VR Zone.
With simlim.sg, the process is as simple as shopping online – you pick a tab for a component you desire and see all the prices laid out to you in a single window.
Didn’t stumble across what you were looking for? Use the search bar instead.
The best thing about the site is that it is actually endorsed by the management of Sim Lim Square, as well as the merchants and businesses contained there.
So this is sort of the ‘official’ price comparison platform for them.
To get more into the inspiration behind the platform, let’s meet the founders of this website.
Two Men With A Passion For Tech
Meet Roger Mulchandani and Michael Grosso.
These two men have made Singapore their home for over five years, and both are self-professed lovers of all things tech. They first met in 2015, while both were working in the same advertising firm, and pretty much hit it off right away through their passion for gadgets and technology.
Most importantly though, both of them frequented a certain place called Sim Lim Square, a place where they could find tech, gadgets and accessories they needed for work and play.
Roger simply loves gadgets, and to quote him directly, “the newer the better!”.
Truly hallmarks of a true geek.
Sim Lim Square is also where he not only finds ‘toys to play with’, but also somewhere where he picks up useful gadgets for his daily work in advertising.
Michael, being a PC enthusiast, often goes to Sim Lim Square to get computer components.
From getting the newest graphics cards to play the latest games, to getting parts to beef up his home networking setup for better internet speeds, or simply for more storage options to store all his holiday photos, he gets them all under this one roof.
Even his mobile phone was bought in Sim Lim Square.
So, it is no surprise that they started talking about a potential platform to aid this ailing place the moment they met.
Perhaps their unwavering support for Sim Lim Square stemmed from their individual upbringing.
Both grew up watching their families run small businesses, and it is because of this that they realised the importance of supporting traditional brick-and-mortar stores, in an age where e-commerce reigns supreme.
Michael and Roger both have a soft spot for small business owners that rely on walk-in customers to make a living, because that is precisely where they came from.
Leveraging On ‘Instant Gratification’
Citing examples showing that people are now ‘webrooming‘ (checking product reviews online before buying them in-store) more than ‘showrooming‘ (checking products in-store to eventually buy them online), Roger shared shared that above all, consumers would rather get out of the house to get a product immediately at an offline retailer at a reasonable price, rather than wait a few days for deliveries.
“I can buy that new pair of cool headphones and use it today.”
With the closure of Funan, consumer attention is suddenly turned back to Sim Lim Square as a tech destination, and in order for merchants there to stand a chance of competing with the onslaught of online competition, they have to present themselves in the same vein as online retailers, which is to share products they have in an online platform, and clearly list its price.
This where simlim.sg hopes to step into.
Over the course of the past few months, Michael and Roger turned their entire social life into one large focus group sharing the concept and beta of simlim.sg to everyone they know (and don’t know), from friends, colleagues, and finally merchants and the management of Sim Lim Square.
It also helps that both founders are in the advertising industry, and have used their advantage by making the site as clear and intuitive for both consumers and merchants.
Big Plans Beyond Launch
When asked if there were any big plans for the site now that it is officially live, they promised that we will not be disappointed, albeit stopping short at just a confirmation.
For now though, simlim.sg is now home to 55 merchants and some 3000 products, and they are in the process of on-boarding dozens more that have not made it online.
Roger also shared some plans to integrate new site features to make it the ultimate destination for fellow tech geeks, which will save both time and money for consumers, with the end goal of driving more people to honest merchants.
Finally, Some Advice For Merchants
Lastly, co-founder Michael Grosso has some choice words on how merchants of Sim Lim Square can improve their image, and one way is through customer service.
He gave two examples of how this could be done:
Firstly, sanction those that provide poor customer service.
This has been ongoing in Sim Lim Square for the longest time, as their partnership with CASE brought about the infamous blacklist of shops. Michael highlights that while this will work to a degree, it will simply lead to most stores giving just ‘OK customer service’, which in turn may lead customer dissatisfaction. In the long run, it simply isn’t a good solution for the business.
Then there’s the need to encourage and recognise good customer service – which is exactly what Simlim.sg does via merchant reviews.
He and Roger want to give merchants a strong reason to constantly improve and give the best of themselves, which most of them already do, but currently don’t have a platform to showcase it on. So, as more customers review merchants on the platform, you will see that the better shops will start to show up higher on the price comparison list (even if they are not the cheapest) while the laggards will see their ranking going down.
It makes sense to do this because they know that customers are willing to pay a little bit more if they get a higher quality of customer and after-sales service – especially for IT and electronics, as it provides them with a greater peace of mind.
And this is why simlim.sg chose the second way, because in the long run, eliminating bad press doesn’t truly solve bad perception issues.
Stigmas stick for a long time and only good press can reverse the trend, which is what they want to bring Sim Lim Square out of – with the help of a majority merchants who truly deserve it.