Retail gloom is staring the industry in the face once again as New Look, Celio and Crate & Barrel’s CB2 are set to either exit or scale back their retail presence.
Citing low sale and high costs in a statement with The Straits Times, distributor Jay Gee Melwani announced that British brand New Look and French menswear chain Celio will shut in the second half of this year. The distributor also manages other brands such as Aldo, Levi’s, Dockers, Aeropostale, Converse and health supplement chain Holland & Barrett.
The same is happening for CB2, the sister store of American furniture and homeware brand Crate & Barrel, three years after landing in Singapore. It is shutting its two stores as of now but the management told The Straits Times it will be looking for a new shop space eventually.
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However, one retail brand is looking to make a comeback, albeit at a much smaller scale. Japanese skincare brand Fancl, is set to return to Singapore after closing all 13 stores in 2014 with one new counter at Isetan Scott in Orchard Road. Citing losses in both Singapore and Taiwanese markets in 2014, the company had announced its closure.
Nadia Tan, head of SMB, Southeast Asia at Facebook, drew a direct relationship of poor retail performance to the increased ease of shopping online and on mobile.
In a statement to Marketing, she said, “The reality is consumers can shop anytime, anywhere thanks to their mobile phone. It has opened up a world of ease for consumers, able to do tasks at a time and place that is convenient to them. And as the number of people in Southeast Asia that access the internet via their mobile device increases, the number of customers shopping via their phone is only going to grow. ”
For retailers to survive in the Singapore scene, Tan suggests using online websites or social media pages to complement offline store services and strengthen customer service offerings. She recounts a personal incident where she used Facebook messenger to check with a store on product availability, saving her two drives to the store when the size of the shoes she wanted came back in stock.
“Merging the online and offline world to create a seamless customer experience is the sweet spot businesses should be aiming to achieve, if they want to stay ahead in the modern world of retail.” added Tan.