For many of us, our memories of the annual Great Singapore Sale still remain clear in our minds.
From jostling with crowds that swarmed the shopping malls, to holding back on buying an item until it was listed on the Sale; it was a season bargain-hunters and all Singaporeans alike looked forward to.
Inaugurated 23 years ago in 1994, the Sale has however, just like the bleak retail landscape in Singapore, been seeing a stark decrease in popularity in the recent years.
The mention of the Sale just doesn’t inspire as much excitement as it did before.
With the plethora of choices that e-commerce has brought consumers, they are given access to sweet deals and sales all year round, making GSS lose its unique selling point and, in the process, its relevance as well.
And this isn’t just from personal experience – sales statistics from last year has seen the future of the season being put in question, after a consecutive decline in retail sales for the last 3 years. This is after attempts to lure more shoppers with an extended sales period, more payment options, and contest prizes.
Said president of the Singapore Retailers Association (SRA), organiser of the GSS, “We need to discuss if there is a point in continuing it, or whether there is a need to reformat it.”
This year, however, it seems like the Sale’s not giving up the fight just yet, and has just announced the launch of a free mobile app, GoSpree, which aims to operate as a “supermall” platform.
GSS Goes Mobile
Owned by the SRA, the app is a bid to “reach out to younger tech-savvy shoppers”.
Said SRA executive director Rose Tong, “We listened hard to feedback from last year, and we felt that we needed to go digital. […] Being a brick-and-mortar store doesn’t mean you stay rooted. Given the prevalence of online shopping, we can’t remain only offline or only online.”
The app is also aiming to give much needed attention to retailers who might need more footfall and attention to their offerings.
“We particularly want to reach out to smaller, independent retailers who can really leverage the platform to target new customers and get additional publicity at no cost.”
Set to launch on 9 June at the Paragon shopping mall, the app will be free and available in English and Chinese.
Users would then be able to ‘download e-coupons, consolidate, and redeem them at participating retailers for discounts’.
For the sake of convenience, the app would also include a directory of all its participating retailers.
Retailers would also be assigned unique QR codes, and users would be able to scan the codes to ‘unlock special deals’, something that is said to be strategically targeting Chinese tourists, which made up about 17.5% of all arrivals in 2016 – making them the top source of tourists for Singapore.
The QR code system is something commonly used on popular Chinese apps Alipay and WeChat, and their familiarity with how it works might very well be a pull factor for them.
And it’s not just one way – retailers would also be able to send e-coupons and flash deal alerts to potential shoppers that could be nearby, and would not be charged to list their offers.
Some of the more well-known retailers listed on the app so far are Naiise, Courts, Takashimaya and Millennia Walk shopping mall.
Could The App Save GSS And Our Retail Landscape?
While the app could definitely give deal hunters another alternative for shopping, the lure of e-commerce is in its convenience. It’s also hard to predict if the deals on the platform would be attractive enough to get these individuals to do shopping offline again.
Another issue that the SRA has to address is getting people to actually download the app.
This might be even more tricky as the app is only going to benefit users during the GSS period, thus, some might not see the need of downloading it in the first place.
But who knows, this approach might very well be what GSS needs to be truly great again.
Watch this space as we try out the app when it’s released next month.
Featured Image Credit: The Middle Ground