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Digital Transformation for Retail and Precinct Marketing

  Published: 04 June 2021
  Theme: Placemaking
  Written by URA

Businesses can play a part in creating vibrant places that are also resilient to the evolving retail landscape and changing lifestyles. A panel of experts consisting of Dr Kapil R. Tuli, Professor of Marketing at the Singapore Management University’s Lee Kong Chian School of Business, Mr Shaun Kwan, co-founder and COO of local artificial intelligence and video analytics firm Trakomatic, and Mr Jack Backen, Director at Cistri, shared their thoughts on how businesses can leverage data-driven insights to harness the vibrancy of precincts and achieve this in a cost-effective manner.

Adapted from an edition of the People & Places Partnership webinar series presented by URA.

Creating an integrated physical and digital retail experience

More than just physical spaces, liveable and loveable places create unique experiences and memories, and connect people with one another. To draw new patrons and retain a community of returning customers, businesses from retailers to mall operators need to work together to shape such spaces, by tapping on digital tools that can collect relevant data and help create better retail experiences, whether online or offline.

The most successful companies look at physical and digital retailing in an integrated fashion and not separately, targeting complementary aspects that enhance the consumer experience. Some examples of such success stories include American retailers Warby Parker and Target, Indian retailer Shoppers Stop, and Singapore-based e-commerce brand IUIGA. For example, Warby Parker expanded from an online-only platform into a physical retail experience in the form of pop-up buses that allowed shoppers to try on products and make their online purchases after. As a result, area sales went up by 8%, with online trials and returns significantly reduced. Similarly, Singapore homeware retailer IUIGA has grown both its online and offline presence, allowing consumers to browse products in physical stores and, should they require more time to make a decision, easily make an online purchase via its website afterwards.

Digital tools such as web crawlers that track consumer preferences and buying habits, video analytics that capture footfall and crowd density and real-time heat maps are very important for retailers. If used properly, these tools can help them understand their shoppers better, and identify patterns, inefficiencies and opportunities to build more efficient omnichannel shopping experiences.

Knowing how to translate the raw data collected into actionable insights that drive decision-making and business strategies can also help retailers increase return on investments (ROI). Even small-scale businesses like cafes and mini marts can benefit from digital analytics tools.

Consumers make decisions about where they go shopping not just because of a single mall but based on the attractiveness of an entire precinct. Digital and video analytics are equally useful at the precinct level to analyse public spaces and aid physical stores and malls in attracting higher footfall and sales.

Shoppers at Raffles City
Shoppers at Raffles City, a shopping centre in the City Hall precinct.

 

4 key learning points


  1. The retail sector is transforming; brick-and-mortar stores must adapt to better compete with e-retailers for consumers. Retailers need to be willing to explore technology and bring the physical realm together with digital data to maximise the value of a place and create great shopping experiences. This is key to drawing repeat customers.

  2. With digital tools, landlords and retailers can have a much stronger understanding of the real value of a place and maximise the experience of a place. They will then be more likely to make accurate forecasts and better business decisions.

  3. There is value in physical stores if digital tools are successfully leveraged on to better understand consumers, the use of space, as well as patterns or trends in bringing visitors to the space. Patience and persistence are also required in understanding and deriving the value of data. The insights derived can guide retailers in understanding their customers better and what they should focus on.

  4. Some guiding questions for retailers when deciding on which digital tools to focus on include: Why am I doing this? Am I trying to improve customer experience or am I trying to improve my knowledge and understanding of my customers to develop better business strategies? The answers to these questions can help retailers narrow down which digital tools they should invest in.

In conclusion

Businesses need to constantly identify key drivers and trends to engage consumers across the omnichannel landscape. To do this, they can tap on retail analytics as a tool to gain richer and deeper insights to enhance their marketing strategy and programmes, and continually create dynamic places for people.

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