SINGAPORE - Singapore's largest outlet mall IMM launched its virtual shopping centre on Friday (Feb 5), giving people the added convenience of doing their outlet shopping from the comfort of their homes.
The virtual mall, an initiative under the Emerging Stronger Taskforce’s Alliance for Action aimed at facilitating smart commerce, is now on leading e-commerce platform Shopee.
The task force was set up last year under the Future Economy Council to review how Singapore can stay economically resilient and emerge stronger from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The virtual mall aims to accelerate the digitalisation of IMM's retailers and help them increase their online presence.
Minister for National Development Desmond Lee, who was the guest of honour at the official launch of the virtual mall, said the stressors on bricks-and-mortar stores have been accelerated by Covid-19.
Mr Lee, who is also the co-chair of the task force, said: "Spending habits and consumer preferences have changed. More people are now shopping online, and some people, even exclusively online."
With the virtual mall, retailers at the Jurong East mall who do not have an online presence will now be able to market their goods online. Retailers on the virtual mall will also get to tap marketing opportunities and enjoy marketing subsidies from CapitaLand and Shopee, including trial packages of live-streaming their products on Shopee Live.
CapitaLand hopes that the initiative will also create a multiplier effect, where people can shop online and have their purchases delivered to their homes, or purchase discount vouchers online and redeem them in-store, resulting in a higher footfall at the mall.
In its initial phase, the virtual mall will feature a line-up of 33 brands, which include retail brands Kipling, Pierre Cardin, and SK Jewellery. The virtual mall will also feature 14 food and beverage establishments such as Ajisen Ramen, Jollibean and Old Chang Kee.
Managing director of retail at CapitaLand Singapore Chris Chong said: "During this pandemic, we do see a lot of changes in shopping behaviour. So the collaboration with Shopee gives access to different kinds of opportunities which bricks-and-mortar retailers may not be able to access."
For example, he said F&B operators rely heavily on food delivery apps and physical marketing, but they can now make use of this virtual mall to advertise themselves online and put out attractive promotions.
Retailers which already have an online shop are also keen on the tie-up, with Shopee expected to provide a stronger reach.
Head of e-commerce at SK Jewellery David Lau said: "Many people nowadays when they shop, they start their journey online. That's where Shopee can really come in and help to do the conversion of customers to our physical stores."
IMM, which opened in 1991, refashioned itself as an outlet mall in 2013 after a revamp and now has more than 90 outlet stores, out of more than 220 retailers there.
Ms Nicholine Neo, 25, who visits IMM frequently, believes the online mall will come in handy for workaday items.
She said: "If I can just order online, then it's convenient because I don't have to make the trip down. I would still prefer to go down physically to shop for more expensive items, but I appreciate the convenience of being able to browse the products online first."