SINGAPORE - For the first time since it started 26 years ago, the Great Singapore Sale will be a largely virtual event, with a focus on further helping local retailers go digital.
The annual sale, which will run from Sept 9 to Oct 10, will feature some 800 brands this year.
Touted as Singapore's biggest retail event, the GSS usually runs in stores and online between June and August.
The move to run the sale as a virtual event comes two months after organisers announced in May that it was cancelling the sale due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Organised by the Singapore Retailers Association (SRA), the sale makes its digital debut as the eGSS: Shop.Win.Experience.
Retailers' offerings will be consolidated on SRA's eGSS GoSpree platform, where shoppers can view these items through virtual and augmented reality tools.
The platform also hosts interactive games where shoppers can win prizes, watch livestreamed discussions on various brands and products, and browse through curated lifestyle catalogues tailored to shoppers' profiles.
After browsing the deals on retail and food and beverage items, attractions and hotels on the app, shoppers will be redirected to the merchants' websites and digital platforms to make their purchases.
They can also use the platform to download promo codes that can be used for online or in-store purchases, among other activities.
SRA executive director Rose Tong said on Thursday (July 23) that the national sale is the only unified marketing and sales event for retailers to leverage on.
Ms Tong said: "Not having the sale, they felt like something was missing and when we decided to take it online, we looked at how it could be different."
Referring to an E-Commerce Booster Package launched by Enterprise Singapore in April to help brick-and-mortar retailers and heartland enterprises take their business online, she said: "We felt it was timely that eGSS takes off in September because retailers would have had some experience going digital and would already be on some e-commerce spaces."
SRA is organising the eGSS in collaboration with the Singapore Furniture Industries Council (SFIC), the Textile and Fashion Federation (Taff) and - for the first time - the Association of Singapore Attractions (ASA).
Among these partner offerings are virtual furniture showrooms on The Furniture Centrum, an immersive platform by furniture council SFIC, promotions at Singapore attractions, and special back-of-house experiences and family passes from ASA members.
The organisers hope to promote home-grown brands this year, with the spotlight on local designers and retailers' fashion and lifestyle products in online marketplace Oneorchard.store.
Mall operator Frasers Property Retail is the eGSS' partner and will support the sale's various campaign initiatives across 15 malls. It will also extend preferential rates to SRA members when they join the Frasers e-Store.
Other stores and malls will also be participating in the GSS.
The eGSS is a part of the $45 million nine-month SingapoRediscovers campaign that aims to give local lifestyle and tourism businesses a much-needed boost after half a year of slowed demand.
Asked about consumer sentiment amid the dismal economic climate, Ms Tong replied: "If there are deals, shoppers will always be keen, despite the gloom and doom during this time. But the eGSS is also targeted at retailers - for them to look at innovative ways to reach out to customers and convince them to come and shop."
Shoppers can go to GoSpree.sg, which will go live on on July 28. The digital platform will house all the event's campaign initiatives and be updated in the coming weeks.
Stores and shoppers told The Straits Times that they welcome the event's digital push.
Fashion designer Michelle Chan, 36, of Weekend Sundries, is considering joining the event as she said it is likely to give her brand more visibility. She added that customers who preferred to look for the brand in store are now more open to purchasing items online.
Data analyst Serene Chia, 26, hopes to purchase skincare products and active wear during the sale. The frequent online shopper said: "There's more variety, opportunities for customisation and less pressure to make a snap decision."
Physical retail is still important, she said. "Returns (of online purchases) can be a pain and there is a personal touch of service that e-commerce cannot replicate."