Shopping malls have been forced to pivot online quickly during the pandemic as they become “ghost towns”, with shoppers avoiding public places.
While the world saw news of major retail closures, malls and traditional retailers have been criticised for being slow or clumsy to digitally adapt.
Retailers that were fully brick-and-mortar had to scramble to do so as their businesses were significantly disrupted.
Fortunately, some shopping malls managed to onboard their tenants onto online platforms to help them stay alive amid this retail slump.
More Than 280 Merchants Joined CapitaLand Malls’ Digital Platforms
For one, CapitaLand Malls launched two online platforms — eCapitaMall and Capita3Eats (pronounced as “capita-treats”).
eCapitaMall is a curated digital mall featuring the merchandise of retailers, the majority of whom also operate in CapitaLand’s Singapore malls.
Shoppers have the flexibility to browse online before purchasing in-store, or browse in-store before purchasing online. For online purchases, shoppers can opt for home delivery or in-store collection.
Separately, Capita3Eats is Singapore’s first mall-operated food ordering platform that offers consumers three ways to fulfil their food orders: delivery, takeaway or dine-in.
Both platforms are accessible to the public via CapitaLand’s CapitaStar app and mall websites since 1 June, and the retailers are able to tap on more than 1 million CapitaStar members in Singapore.
Singapore’s largest mall network, CapitaLand Malls, include Raffles City Shopping Centre, Funan IT Mall, Bugis Junction, Jewel Changi Airport and Plaza Singapura.
Since their launches, both platforms have onboarded more than 280 online merchants from CapitaLand’s network of malls and are on track to top that number with 500 online merchants by the end of the year.
Frasers Expanded Their Existing Digital F&B Platform
In April, Frasers leveraged their existing digital F&B concierge, Frasers Makan Master, to quickly roll out a meal delivery service for F&B tenants.
This provided tenants an additional avenue to offer meal delivery services for customers during the circuit breaker period, in addition to
contactless pre-order, pay and collect options.
They also subsidised delivery fees for orders made through Frasers Makan Master, and provided dining rebates for customers.
With these initiatives and incentives, we have seen about 80 per cent of Makan Master orders coming from repeat customers, indicating that the service is well-received by our shoppers and supporting tenant sales.– Frasers Property Retail’s spokesperson
Come September, Frasers Makan Master will also be able to accept multi-brand delivery orders.
This means customers can place orders from multiple F&B tenants within the same mall, providing greater flexibility and choice when dining at home.
Tenants will also benefit from lower delivery costs and greater benefits with bundled orders.
Marina Square Onboarded Lazada As Its First Shopping Mall
Additionally, Marina Square has onboarded Lazada as the platform’s first shopping mall, working with its tenants to create a virtual mall on the app.
“Marina Square joined LazMall and brought along more than 30 of its tenants onto our platform. This includes a mix of existing and new brands to LazMall, to recreate the shopping experience as closely as possible to the physical mall,” said James Chang, CEO of Lazada Singapore.
Some brands include Benjamin Barker, Island Shop, King Koil, Pororo Park SG, Kiztopia, which already have their own virtual storefronts on LazMall.
For some outlets, such as fashion labels Zara and Massimo Dutti, Marina Square will be selling vouchers on the Marina Square LazMall store, which can only be redeemed at the respective stores in Marina Square.
This online-to-offline (O2O) strategy can help provide immediate cashflow for tenants, while driving customers back to their physical stores as we transition into phase 2 of Singapore’s re-opening.– James Chang, CEO of Lazada Singapore
Gearing Up For The Great Singapore Sale
This year’s Great Singapore Sale will go online for the first time in 26 years from 9 September to 10 October.
For Lazada, they are gearing up for the 9.9 campaign, a yearly tradition that takes place every 9 September.
“We invite all our brand partners and sellers to participate in various campaigns throughout the year and it will be no different for our upcoming “9.9” campaign in September,” said James.
They have seen unprecedented demand over the past few months, as a result of shopping behaviour being shaped by COVID-19 such as the Online Tech Show in March and the Mid-Year Festival.
In March, they hosted an Online Tech Show since sellers were unable to participate at the quarterly IT Show due to the restrictions on large-scale gatherings.
Compared to last year, they saw a 50 per cent increase in participating sellers and more than 150 sellers’ sales exceeding S$10,000 over the four-day period.
Their Mid-Year Festival was brought forward to June this year (it was held in July last year) as they saw that businesses needed to remain operational and keep the economy running.
In the first hour of the campaign, millions of dollars was transacted due to the excitement and pent-up demand.– James Chang, CEO of Lazada Singapore
For Frasers Property Retail, all tenants in their network of 15 malls will enjoy dual listing of all their deals and promotions on the FRx loyalty app, and the Singapore Retailers Association’s (SRA) GoSpree platform.
With the dual listing, tenants can tap more than 860,000 customers from FRx and SRA’s combined reach.
They would also be launching “Frasers Live”, a live-streaming social commerce event, with further details to be announced at a later date.
Shift Towards An Omni-Channel Approach
Going omni-channel for brands and businesses has been talked about for years and the debilitating impact of Covid-19 has only made the process more urgent.
Asian shoppers increasingly use both online and offline channels to order, pay for, collect and return purchases.
Unfortunately, seeing how shopping malls and retailers scrambled to take themselves online, it has shown that we are not quite there yet.
Moreover, during the circuit breaker period, consumers expected online accessibility as an alternative to shop, with the closure of most retail stores.
Despite the increasing attention towards online presence, shopping malls are still eyeing to drive shoppers back to physical retail spaces.
While physical stores may return in a post-COVID world, this crisis has clearly demonstrated that online platforms are quickly becoming the shopping malls of tomorrow, which will force many retail groups to rethink, reinvent and diversify their business models towards an omni-channel approach to anticipate where their consumers are.– James Chang, CEO of Lazada Singapore
Shopping malls that already have an omni-channel strategy have found themselves better positioned to mitigate the reduced footfall numbers during the pandemic.
Featured Image Credit: Visit Singapore / Singapore Food Guide / Shenton Wire / Culture Trip