Is Singapore losing local consumers?

When asked why she would travel abroad to shop, a Singaporean interviewee told Linda Locke, marketing director at Club 21 it is because she wants to buy something others do not have.

Is this a reflection of lack of creativity or offering in the Singapore market?

Marketers at the roundtable titled, "Capturing the Valuable globe shopper" said yes, adding that Singapore is fast losing its local customers to other markets, whilst continuing to attract tourists.

Stefan Peter Ellrott, country manager of Global Blue said while ease of shopping as well as making the transaction (to claim GST refund and so on) will still drive shoppers to Singapore, with the rise of other shopping hubs around the region, the market needs to strengthen its position as more than just a shopping destination.

Retailers in Singapore are facing the double whammy of Singaporeans shopping either online or abroad, marketers at the roundtable said.

Singapore has long held the crown for being a shopping destination for tourists but not so for locals, according to Cedric Tan, director business development, DeFred Jewellers who added that the local market is not providing a unique experience or excitement to customers.

While attributing shopping abroad to cheaper travel and better connectivity, Locke said it's getting tougher to hold on to the local market.

On the contrary, tourism-led sales continues to grow in Singapore. For luxury brands retailer Valiram Group, nearly 60% of sales for its stores are driven by affluent Chinese consumers. According to general manager Karen Leong, India perhaps will be the next big wave for the retailer.

Similarly, Indonesia, followed by Japan stood out as other important markets for brands to target shoppers from.

Most of the marketers also pointed towards e-Commerce becoming a real threat to brands, primarily housed in brick and mortar stores.

Retail stores are on their way to becoming a mere showcase for customers to browse through the products and try, before they make the purchase online, they said.

Sarah Fischer, senior manager for brand communications and sports marketing, at Adidas Singapore said, the brand recently launched its e-Commerce site for the region, in line with the trend.

Locke, too, added that retailers need to make e-Commerce part of their offerings very soon.

Read the full coverage of the roundtable in the June edition of Marketing Magazine.