SINGAPORE - Browse sofas, tables and lamps while hopping between various furniture shops and see how they look like in a living room setting, without leaving home.
This is what The Furniture Centrum is offering shoppers - a virtual mall with furniture recreated to scale in 3D graphics not unlike those in a video game.
Shoppers can then click on furniture they like to buy them from retailers' websites.
The virtual mall houses showrooms for 28 local furniture brands and is part of this year's Great Singapore Sale (GSS), which will be largely virtual for the first time since it started 26 years ago.
The event comes amid a retail slump due to the coronavirus pandemic. Retail sales, excluding motor vehicles, fell 7.7 per cent year on year in July. However, they rose 19.5 per cent from June on a seasonally adjusted basis as Covid-19 restrictions eased.
This year's "eGSS: Shop. Win. Experience" event is organised by the Singapore Retailers Association (SRA) with the Singapore Furniture Industries Council, the Textile and Fashion Federation and, for the first time, the Association of Singapore Attractions.
Mall operator Frasers Property Retail is the eGSS' partner and will support the sale's various campaign initiatives across 15 malls, while Singtel is the event's telco partner.
The SRA, which initially outlined the event in July, released more details on Tuesday (Sept 8) about the sale. The event takes place from Wednesday to Oct 10 on GoSpree.sg
Retail experts told The Straits Times that the eGSS might give local players a boost amid the economic downturn.
Dr Seshan Ramaswami, associate professor of marketing education at the Singapore Management University, said that beyond going online, the active collaboration of a mall operator and trade associations is "particularly significant".
"These are all (from) industries that are particularly hit by the Covid-19 (restrictions) - and the attempt by them to boost sales in this period will hopefully repair some of the damage over the last several months."
Asked about the virtual furniture showroom, Dr Ramaswami called it an "innovative experiment".
"It remains to be seen if consumers can get used to buying major additions to their homes in a virtual store. A lot depends on how effective the (virtual mall's) presentation is."
Dr Lewis Lim, associate professor of marketing practice at Nanyang Technological University's Nanyang Business School, said the digital format "encourages retailers to think innovatively on how they can create an interesting shopping experience for their customers".
But experts said more can be done to make the event appealing.
Mr Amos Tan, a senior lecturer at Singapore Polytechnic's School of Business, said GoSpree "needs to spend a lot of top dollars... to increase awareness of the platform's existence", as many shoppers may think of online shopping sites such as Lazada and Shopee first.
GoSpree's interface can be improved too, as shoppers have to go through many layers before they can get to items they want, he said.
On the GoSpree website, shoppers can download coupons that can be used for online or physical in-store purchases.
It will host Facebook live streams every Wednesday where personalities, such as actress Munah Bagharib and model-host Jade Seah, will promote products and attractions.
An eCatalogue, published every Thursday, will highlight deals for the week. GoSpree also has daily discounts.
Nearly 400 home-grown and global brands will offer more than 2,000 deals on the GoSpree platform, in an effort to drive domestic spending.