The presence of marquee brands at Orchard Road has raised hopes that it might leverage more global giants in order to join the big league of shopping destinations. The latest to pick Orchard Road is premium lingerie retailer Victoria's Secret, which is setting up its first South-east Asia flagship store here. Other international players on the larger retail scene are Decathlon, Maje and Dover Street Market.
But do brands alone make the mall? The question bears asking as major brands also leverage retail e-commerce which grew by over 20 per cent in 2014 to almost US$840 billion (S$1.2 trillion) globally, according to consulting firm A. T. Kearney. Online stores can offer similar products, personalise services, take the grind out of shopping, provide lickety-split delivery and grant refunds too.
With this in mind, Orchard Road's stakeholders ought to go beyond big names and also offer experiential shopping. While most retail sales still occur in stores (nine in 10 of all sales in the United States, according to Kearney), competition for the consumer's attention and dollar is growing. Shoppers do not just wish to browse, they also crave ways to express themselves, to be entertained and to fantasise. Recognising this, Victoria's Secret spends millions on its annual fashion show, aired in 185 countries, and lets shoppers come up close with its star models online.
A shopping street should also seek to enthral via both luxury and cult brands, global and home- grown offerings, real and virtual platforms. Weaving all these into a seamless sensory experience will not be a snap. It is no secret that just physically connecting the malls is hard enough now. Greater integration will call for concerted effort.