Robinsons customers cite mixed feelings ahead of store's online-only relaunch

More than 50 brands from the former Robinsons will be returning to the online store. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Shuttered department store Robinsons Singapore is set to relaunch as Robinsons Online with a sale at 3pm on Thursday (June 24), featuring more than 1,000 products from 200 brands at up to 60 per cent off.

The iconic department store was acquired by Australian online retailer Canningvale after it shut its last physical store in January this year.

However, customers here have mixed reactions to the storied brand's resurrection as an online-only platform.

Longtime customers such as sales manager Shafa Yusup, 35, said it remains to be seen if Robinsons Online will be able to match up to other online shopping experiences.

Citing direct competitors like Tangs that have both physical stores and a mobile app, she said that "the benefit of a department store is the aggregation of different brands from different price ranges".

"So it will depend on myriad factors like navigational ease, the pictures and listings of the products, the rewards programme and especially the price," said Ms Shafa, who has been shopping at Robinsons since 2011, especially for their deals on bedding items.

Financial consultant Shalini Arul, 36, echoed this "wait-and-see" sentiment, saying she would actually prefer browsing in the physical department store, where she previously purchased many bedding and homeware products.

The self-proclaimed "serial Robinsons shopper", who has been shopping there since her university days, also said shopper loyalty will have to be rebuilt.

"It does not help that the brand, under the former owners, left a bad taste in my mouth after leaving customers, suppliers and staff in the lurch last year... But now that there's new management, let's see."

Speaking at a virtual press conference on Wednesday, incoming managing director Jordan Prainito, 29, said he was conscious of the perception that Robinsons had become a high-end retailer.

"During the due diligence process, we saw that a large proportion of customers found that Robinsons' offerings had gotten too 'atas' (high-class), so we will be serving the middle market as well, not just the upper market," he said.

More than 50 brands from the former Robinsons will be returning to the online store.

The home and lifestyle department will also be expanded to feature a slate of new brand offerings such as high-quality bed linen, towels and scented candles from Robinsons' parent company Canningvale, kitchen mixers from Swedish brand Ankarsrum, and mattresses from American brand Zinus.

Local brands will also be highlighted, such as skincare companies Jill Lowe Skin Care and Invity, as well as home-grown toymaker Mighty Jaxx.

Online shoppers can use GrabPay's PayLater feature to pay for purchases in instalments, which will be offered as an ongoing payment option.

Shoppers will also get an additional 20 per cent off with a minimum spend of $100 on all items (capped at a $50 discount), when they use the code GRAB20 upon checkout, from June 25 to July 25. Additionally, Robinsons customers can earn points that are redeemable on the Grab rewards network, depending on their mode of payment.

Shoppers who sign up for the Robinsons newsletter will also be rewarded with a discount code for an extra $10 off on their first purchase.

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