#LEAwards spills: CapitaStar's belief in the symbiotic relationship between tech and talent

CapitaLand's loyalty rewards programme, CapitaStar, launched in 2011 as a holistic consumer and retailer platform to enable the implementation of CapitaLand’s omni-channel retail strategy in today’s competitive and fast-evolving retail landscape. Its objective was to create a seamless shopping and lifestyle experience across CapitaLand’s retail ecosystem, integrating physical and digital touchpoints across its 17 retail mall properties to provide a 24/7 new retail experience for consumers.

Fast forward nine years later, it now has over one million members since inception and also recently bagged two silver awards for Best Loyalty Programme - Retailer and Most Innovative Loyalty Programme at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE's Loyalty & Engagement Awards 2020. 

As the team gears up for 2021, Reuben Yong (pictured), head coalition, CapitaLand Singapore shares three ways its marketing plan has shifted and how he is futureproofing the team.

This interview is done as part of MARKETING-INTERACTIVE’s winners and finalists’ interview series for Loyalty and Engagement Awards 2020. To find out more about the awards, click here

What are some of the expectations your consumers now have for your brand?

Yong: Retail has always been a fast evolving and dynamic industry. With the new normal and accelerated changes in consumers’ behavior, we recognise that our shoppers today are looking for seamless convenience paired with experiential retail as part of an evolved shopping experience.

Hence, within a year, CapitaStar has evolved from being a pure loyalty programme to a dynamic omnichannel enabler for both our retailers and consumers. From this, we have successfully established ourselves as the leading managed retail ecosystem. Beyond just offering world class physical spaces, we are availing our digital capabilities - loyalty, payments, O2O capabilities, marketing technologies and data analytics - for our retailers as well.

This digital transformation has pushed new frontiers for CapitaLand’s retail business and successfully proven to drive up customer engagement leading to strong increase in conversions/sales month on month. 

How has your marketing/your clients marketing plans shifted this year?

Yong: I believe 2020 has been a challenging year for most industries and companies. For us, the key words for this year is to transform and adapt. We have started progressively expanding our digital capabilities two years ago with our foray into offline to online retail with NomadX, as well as the introduction of new features on the CapitaStar App such as eCapitaVouchers and partner privileges, among others.

This year, we accelerated our digital transformation plans by further embracing technology and infusing great customer experiences into the user journey creation as part of adapting to both consumers’ and retailers needs in the new normal.

I am particularly proud of the team’s readiness and capabilities in embracing various facets of marketing-technology. Firstly, the launch of our twin digital platforms in June 2020 - eCapitaMall (eCommerce site) and Capita3Eats (food ordering platform) - has opened multiple doors of opportunities for our retailers to pivot during the pandemic. Thus, providing sustainable sales performance with more than 500 retailers onboard both platforms since inception.  

Secondly, through the use of social media and to its end, social commerce, our first-of-its-kind CapitaStar LIVE 247 shoppertainment live-streams have proven successful and have contributed to positive sales uplifts while balancing new-age content formats. The formats seek to entertain, entice and engage shoppers to drive sales conversions to both our offline and online touch-points. We are immensely encouraged by the results and will continue this as part of our strategy towards being a retail ecosystem provider.  

Thirdly, we have also launched a new exclusive Raffles Prestige membership tier as part of the CapitaStar programme which stands as a by-invite only membership with bespoke lifestyle experiences and curated privileges, positioned to reward discerning shoppers within the CapitaStar programme.

What are some of the trends you see carrying on post-pandemic, and how are you readying your workforce to be ready with these trends?

Yong: I have always seen technology to be an enabler, whereas talent remains a crucial foundation to any success. While marketing automation and AI are the buzzwords today, business acumen, empathy and the willingness to be experimental is something that you can never emulate with technology, hence the right talent pool is important.

In terms of people management, we are continuously investing in our human capital to be ready for the digital economy that lies ahead, and I am pleased to share that the team has always welcomed this as part of an evolving learning journey both as part of their professional careers and personal lives.

What do you think makes for great marketing these days?

Yong: Marketing is the science of understanding and relating to current consumer behaviour. Firstly, to have great marketing efforts with sustainable returns of investment, you must be constantly ready to experiment with new ideas while balancing analytical thinking and aligning efforts to overall business values and objectives.

Secondly, in this digital age, marrying marketing insights with technology and social media as an enabler to help amplify your communications outreach is crucial. We are a strong believer in using data-driven insights to form effective strategies to communicate to the right audience using the right platform during the right time. This is key to building meaningful relationships with your brand.

Lastly, teams must have the empowerment and business agility to pivot quickly. Optimisation is key and learning how to fail fast and learn fast is an important trait every marketer needs to have in driving effective marketing. In this VUCA era, where market trends are unpredictable. Hence, agility and grit are two important qualities that every marketer must have.

How are you planning for 2021?

Yong: We are very excited for 2021 because it brings about both new opportunities and challenges as consumers eagerly anticipate the post new-normal with the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine and re-opening of economies and borders.

We have seen steady growth and rebound in shopper traffic back to our malls, amidst safe-distancing measures and we are very encouraged by this. For 2021, our focus will be to continue building on engaging retail experiences both offline and online and further strengthen our core by providing a seamless and rewarding omni-channel shopping experience through the CapitaStar App and CapitaLand Retail’s Digital Capabilities.