Retail therapy. None other than one of Singaporeans’ favourite pastimes. Spoilt for choice, the new generation of savvy shoppers has cast its net wider, exploring beyond the conventional shopping options. With the rise of e-commerce, widening digital payment methods, and increasing smartphone penetration rates, it isn’t surprising that many brick-and-mortar retailers in Singapore have disappeared from the retail scene as shopping has taken on a whole new dimension. All I can say is welcome to the world of online shopping, bargain hunting and fast-fashion…
I’m sure you’ve got wind of the news that Robinsons, one of the oldest department stores in Singapore, has shut its doors after 162 years of history, leaving behind a legacy that’s near and dear to many Singaporeans. To some, especially the older generation who have a soft spot for the brand, making their last visit to its flagship store at The Heeren was akin to taking a trip down memory lane. Just like how many of our parents and grandparents grew up with Robinsons, they also watched how Robinsons grew and transformed. From its import of designer labels to bespoke lifestyle collections and luxury homeware spreads catering to the changing needs of consumers, the all too familiar mom-and-pop store has remarkably come a long way in reinventing itself. However, Robinsons was ultimately hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic plight was exacerbated by the situation of weak demand. As a result, this triggered a liquidation process of all Robinsons’ remaining outlets since its JEM outlet ceased operations in August last year.
Unfortunately, Robinsons’ plight is not a one-off occurrence. Iconic department stores in other countries aren’t spared from similar unfavourable circumstances. In fact, the demise of Debenhams, coupled with the bankruptcy filings of JCPenney and Neiman Marcus in light of the pandemic—which effectively put them out of business—could very well signal the waning appeal of department stores globally. Speaking of bottom lines, it always boils down to the dollars and cents, even more so for high-street fashion retailers. The UK-based Topshop for example, has withdrawn its physical presence in Singapore and many other stores worldwide. With Topshop unable to sustain its existing business model, it is now gravitating towards strengthening its online presence instead. Gone are the days of hanging out at Topshop after school with your bestie to try on skinny jeans and what not….
Revitalizing the shopping experience
In an effort to highlight some new fashion trends that have taken over, local blogshops for one seem to have struck a chord with millennials in Singapore. Perhaps, this could have also contributed to the lacklustre performances of large department stores—which may have ensued from the shift in consumer appetites for more accessible and affordable apparels. Based on observation, popular sites for women’s fashion among my peers include The Closet Lover, The Editors’ Market and Love, Bonito. These labels provide “basic” back to school outfits which have grown in popularity, not to mention that this could have been propelled by the rise of social media influencers on ubiquitous platforms like Instagram! Indeed, with Chinese New Year round the corner, many millennials are scrambling to lay their hands on new pieces of clothing to jazz up their wardrobe and Instagram feeds with the latest OOTDs. In light of such, home-grown retailer Love, Bonito has recently launched a new collection with bright hued ruffle dresses, check them out here!
Interestingly, while some brands suffer in the current climate, others like the French sporting goods retailer Decathlon thrive. The brand recently opened its fifth experience store in Orchard, replacing two storeys of space which was previously occupied by Metro at The Centrepoint. Factor in the accelerated demand for activewear as working out has become a new staple activity to stay in shape and recharge in between work from home arrangements, Decathlon’s growth is also sustained by their innovative business model that provides a breath of fresh air to an otherwise stale, and frankly antiquated, shopping experience; its virtual reality test zones and free sport sessions to provide an immersive and refreshing experience for shoppers undoubtedly transcends conventions. For those searching for a different kind of seamless wonder, Decathlon also offers a “Click and Collect” service, allowing customers to make online purchases and physically pick up the goods at any store of their choice within two hours.
The “shop til you drop” online paradise
Beyond the bare necessities, there seems to be a kind of allure that online shopping provides which makes us constantly yearn for more. Even during my university seminars, I have seen students seated in front of me swiping different online product offerings like there’s no tomorrow. This happens especially so towards the end of the year, where things like Black Friday deals were simply unheard of in the past. I’m sure these magic dates ring a bell, 9.9, 10.10, 12.12 and the much hyped 11.11, none other than Singles’ Day. More often than not, they now serve as convenient excuses to get a new stash of clothing, and we can’t deny that this has caused impulse-buying to evolve… Here’s how e-commerce giants like Shopee come in with their aggressive marketing strategies, capitalizing on the netizen’s addiction to instant gratification, making shopping round the clock undeniably euphoric and oddly satisfying, especially with their enticingly low prices.
Last year, my friends and I were buzzing about the smorgasbord of flamboyant and quaint knick knacks that Shopee offered towards the year end. For instance, if you’re facing withdrawal symptoms from being an “imposter” after playing Among Us, fret not as Shopee has it all lined up. It runs a gamut of plushies, stickers, embroidery patches and all sorts of other Among Us merchandise you can imagine. Through the online marketplace, you could also satisfy your cravings with the DIY Haidilao Hot Pot kit it offers, nailing it in terms of catering to changing consumer trends. Besides its wide range of products, Shopee’s seasonal games also leave users wanting more, in their feat to earn more Shopee coins, credits and other bountiful prizes.
To be honest, some fashionistas really can’t bear to do away with the palpable experience of feeling fabrics first-hand, getting up close and personal when trying out their potential outfits in fitting rooms and indulging in the traditional forms of window shopping at their nearest mall. However, we have to acknowledge that online shopping, a more convenient alternative to conventional in-store shopping is certainly gaining traction and provides a fair dose of healthy competition to brick-and-mortar retailers.
It looks like the wave of e-commerce is here to stay, and this has definitely altered the dynamics of consumerism. With the hustle-bustle of the online marketplace and purchases being swiftly made with a mere click from the comfort of one’s home, it is a no-brainer to say that online shopping is certainly sitting well with the lives of busy shoppers. Weaving together public health concerns and technological advancements, more and more shoppers are gravitating towards contactless deliveries, another crucial aspect of online shopping in this current climate, fortifying its place as most consumers’ go-to mode of purchasing goods.
Just make sure to check the shipping cost before you confirm your purchase!