Many stores here remain focused on just selling products instead of embracing new retail concepts that stress giving shoppers more memorable experiences, according to professional services firm EY.
Mr Andrew Cosgrove, its global lead analyst for consumer products and retail, said firms need to offer more than simple transactions and should use artificial intelligence to personalise shopping.
He spoke to The Straits Times on the sidelines of the Consumer Goods Forum at Marina Bay Sands yesterday, where he told the audience that “buying” will be the automatic and mundane purchase of necessary items like groceries, while “shopping” will merge with entertainment to provide an immersive and enjoyable experience.
Mr Cosgrove later told The Straits Times: “Retailers need to think much more about what they can give consumers above and beyond what they’re selling.”
Luxury fashion brand Ralph Lauren, for example, installed interactive mirrors that recognise the clothes shoppers hold, and the available sizes and colours. The lighting in fitting rooms also change to show how the items look in different settings.
Associate Professor Ang Swee Hoon from the National University of Singapore’s business school said Singapore firms generally lack the capital and expertise to adapt to new retail trends, especially since many of them are small and medium-sized enterprises.
She added that even for large companies with deep pockets, “Singapore is way too small a market to invest in such technologies”.
Mr S. Iswaran, the Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and Minister for Communications and Information, said the goal of being a Smart Nation by 2025 shows how Singapore recognises the important and transformative role of technology.
He cited local furniture firm Commune, noting that shoppers can use its three-dimensional floor planner and virtual reality simulation to recreate their home and visualise how the furniture will fit inside it.
“This has enhanced their customers’ retail experience and provided greater assurance, which ultimately is driving greater sales,” said Mr Iswaran.
Commune chief executive Joshua Koh told The Straits Times that consumers who used this technology spent 30 per cent more than those who did not.
“It is Commune’s aim to inject fun into the furniture shopping experience and empower time-strapped working professionals to feel more confident about the products they decide to buy,” said Mr Koh.