SINGAPORE - Kampong Glam's shops are getting a technological shine in a bid to glamourise and strengthen the area's brand.
Under a neighbourhood transformation project, shoppers will get a chance to view a shop's interior online on Google Maps and use an app to hunt for location-based discounts.
They can even be relieved of heavy shopping bags, thanks to a delivery service offered by merchants.
The aim is to transform the cultural hub into Singapore's first digitally enabled retail neighbourhood. About 150 merchants have signed up so far.
The project is being led by the Infocomm Media Development Authority in collaboration with Enterprise Singapore, One Kampong Gelam (OKG) association and the Singapore Malay Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
It is also part of a sector-wide effort to innovate in line with the Retail Industry Transformation Map announced in 2016.
Details of the first phase, which started last November, were revealed on Friday (July 20).
Digital initiatives under the project include using e-payments, strengthening the online map listings of stores, using augmented reality for navigation and marketing, delivery services and a point-of-sale system for merchants that integrates the management of accounts, customer relations and inventory.
"Strengthening our digital presence helps our merchants better connect to a younger generation of locals, as well as overseas visitors, to give them a chance to experience our unique mix of retail experiences and cultural heritage," said Mr Saeid Labaffi, OKG chairman.
Jamal Kazura Aromatics, an 85-year-old perfume shop, is one of the stores riding the digital wave, using the integrated point-of-sale system.
The store's general manager Samir Kazura, whose grandfather Mohamed Hanifa founded the business, said the system has boosted operations significantly.
For example, transaction records previously taken by hand in a "little accounts book" are now seamlessly processed digitally, allowing the store to better handle large crowds.
Mr Kazura said: "We can now reach out and keep the relationship going - especially for tourists, who we can now send promotions to via e-mail."
However he added that using the system took "a bit of a transition", and was challenging for the older employees. Nonetheless, it only took about two weeks to get the system running and employees trained.
The store paid about $3,000 for the system after receiving about $6,000 of government grants, said Mr Kazura.
Phase 2 of the Kampong Glam project will start from the middle of next year (2019) and introduce features such as intelligent digital signs for direction and targeted advertisements, and outdoor Wi-Fi.
Mr Labaffi said the aim of the project is to get 200 Kampong Glam merchants on board and an increase of 40 per cent to 50 per cent in footfall for the area.
Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran said: "It is a symbol of what we are trying to do across all of Singapore. Digitalisation is the way of the future and we want to make sure all our enterprises - big and small - are on this journey so they can become more competitive, more productive, and access a wider market base."