City Chain SG clocks 'significant milestone' with push into eCommerce

Watch retail chain City Chain Singapore is launching its eCommerce website in an effort to refresh the brand and appeal to younger, tech-savvy audiences such as Millennials. According to City Chain, this is a significant milestone for the company as it previously only operated brick-and-mortar stores in Singapore. The company sells watch brands such as Solvil et Titus, Seiko, and Casio. Regional GM Alan Chia told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that the website was created in-house within a month and 20% of its profits will be invested into eCommerce. City Chain did not have an online website for its Singapore operations until last year's Circuit Breaker. According to Chia, it was a beta version that was not optimised for publicity and customer experience. It was later redesigned in-house to offer a better customer experience.

When asked about the percentage revenue split between its eCommerce website and retail stores, Chia said online and offline work separately. Hence, the website operates on a different model with different strategies. The website is currently managed by Chia and six individuals on the eCommerce team. 

"We have a state-of-the-art browsing to checking out experience where customers are able to look for the products they want with ease. We also put more effort into building customer relationships by having a live chat box for enquiries that we will respond to as soon as possible," he explained. At the same time, it is also launching a new membership system to entice consumers to constantly return to reap the rewards.

Aside from going online, City Chain is also taking a different design approach by turning its watches into fashion statements. "We are also engaging with them through newer marketing initiatives and leverage platforms that City Chain did not previously use, such as social media and engagement campaigns to increase interaction," Chia said. The brand also aims to be "more available and seen in common digital spaces".

As with most brands nowadays, City Chain will also tap on influencer marketing. While it did not comment on which influencers it is working with exactly, the brand said it will select influencers who fit its category and theme. "We think that new and local faces will appeal to the younger generation to keep our brand trendy," Chia added.

Prior to the pandemic, City Chain's marketing initiatives were focused on offline activities such as roadshows, face-to-face engagements and communications. However, when the pandemic hit, City Chain said these activities were restricted due to social distancing. While it declined to reveal how much of its budget has shifted to digital, the brand said social media has become a priority. "This is an important presence that all businesses should have now that social media seems to be a staple platform for communication and news in this day and age," the brand said.

Moving forward, City Chain plans to focus on expanding deliverable channels as well as double down on digital marketing and brand building. It will also emphasise its online presence. "Companies should not avoid or stop their online marketing efforts amidst the pandemic. The reason being this became the only form of communication and news dissemination channel during the Circuit Breaker in Singapore and is important," he added.

In line with Singapore's upcoming 56th birthday, City Chain is launching a limited edition uni-sex Solvil et Titus watch, which will feature a dial inspired by the Esplanade's iconic "durian" roof. Only 200 timepieces will be released, and each timepiece will come with a unique engraving that shows the year of celebration. Since its establishment in 1985 as Hong Kong's first watch retail chain, City Chain has expanded its retail footprint to nearly 300 locations across Asia, including Macau, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Mainland China.