GSS set to be an extensive virtual shopping experience this year

GSS set to be an extensive virtual shopping experience this year

The largest annual shopping event in the city, the Great Singapore Sale (GSS), will become a virtual experience this year. 

Called the “eGSS: Shop. Win. Experience”, it will feature online deals, virtual workshops, live-streaming activities and virtual reality “catalogues” where shoppers can browse products immersively. 

“This year’s strategic direction of eGSS 2020 takes into account the circumstances in which the retail industry is operating in,” said Singapore Retailers Association’s (SRA) president R Dhinakaran in a press release.

He foresees this will be a “new norm” for an industry that has been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The annual sale will be held from 9 Sep to 10 Oct, said its organisers on Thursday (23 Jul).

The SRA will be collaborating with the Singapore Furniture Industries Council (SFIC), Textile & Fashion Federation (TaFF) and the Association of Singapore Attractions (ASA) for the eGSS. 

Although the SRA previously announced in May that it would not be organising the GSS this year owing to the andemic, SRA’s executive director Rose Tong said during an online media briefing that it was due to “popular demand” from retailers.

“GSS has been around for 25 years and it is still relevant. So the idea of not having it, I think they felt that something was missing,” she said. 

Ms Tong also accredited the e-commerce booster package by Enterprise Singapore in priming retailers in reinventing their brick-and-mortar business models into an e-commerce framework. 

“It (is) very timely. When this eGSS takes off in September, they will have had some experience. They would also be on these marketplaces, if not already creating their e-commerce sites, (and) be well primed by then to be part of this eGSS and to support it actively,” said Ms Tong.

One of the ways the SRA will also innovate its e-commerce platform is to make their existing GoSpree app available on desktop. 

“The mobile GoSpree app will be revamped to work on desktop and will form the backbone in which retailers can leverage on an agnostic unified marketing platform,” added Ms Tong. 

The app brings retail and service stores, shopping malls, dining outlets, attractions, leisure activities and hotels located island-wide all ’under one App’.

The online shopping initiative comes in the wake of numerous physical stores closing its doors due to low sales and inability to pay rental costs. 

On Friday (24 Jul), it was reported that 11 units of one floor at Sim Lim Square were put on the market. Competition from online marketplaces was cited by employers as one of the main causes for declining sales. 

Online deals, virtual reality shopping experience and live-streams by influencers 

Main features of the eGSS include limited daily deals across diverse categories such as retail, F&B, attractions and hotels.

Shoppers will also be able to win prizes through the interactive games available on GoSpree. The organisers hope that this will bring customers back to the physical stores. 

The sales event will also capitalise on digital technology like virtual and augmented reality to provide shoppers with “an immersive experience” when browsing through the products online.

One of such experiences will be the incorporation of a “digital and experiential furniture mini-mall” called the “Furniture Centrum” by the SFIC. This allows shoppers to make purchases, uncover special promotions while interacting with brands through games and livestreams, said its president Mark Yong.

There will also be virtual workshops for shoppers, as well as live-streaming on Facebook by popular influencers on brands and services. These live-streaming sessions will be held every Wednesday night for two hours with limited products on sale so as “to create a sense of urgency”, said SRA’s Ms Tong.

Positive outlook from associations 

TaFF President Wilson Teo said shoppers still want to spend despite the doom and gloom of the economy, and it is up to retailers to “excite” the consumers. 

“I think it is still possible if we engage the consumer in the right way,” he said. “More importantly, it is whether we are able to offer the experience as well as a compelling offer.”

The ASA is participating in the retail sales event for the first time, said its chairman Kevin Cheong. He hopes that this can “remind Singaporeans that there are attractions” from home.

Its members will offer various promotions, from family passes to offers with longer validity. Audiences can also connect with their online content through the GoSpree platform. 

“There are lifestyle, recreation and social activities which can occupy the weekends and even weekdays on your time-off,” said Mr Cheong. “There is a good alternative to traveling and we have it in Singapore.”

This comes as part of Singapore Tourism Board’s S$45 mil package where tour bundles such as staycations, heartland tours and attraction discounts will be offered. 

As for Mr Yong, he commented that the furniture retail industry has traditionally depended on the predominant brick-and-mortar model. Even with safe distancing measures enforced, businesses still find it “very challenging” to attract customers back to its stores.

“In essence, the eGSS not only provides the much-needed reprieve for the furniture retail industry, but we also hope that it will pave the way for the entire ecosystem for furniture furnishings (to) embrace digital technology,” he said.

Other traditional physical events have also recently announced its transition into a virtual event. 

The OCBC Cycle and Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon announced that online races will be organised in place of the physical event. 

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