After exiting Singapore earlier this year in January, departmental store retailer Robinsons is returning as Robinsons Online. According to the brand, the online retailer will go live on 24 June as a fully digital, state-of-the-art, vertically integrated online department store. It also appointed Word Of Mouth Communications as its retainer PR agency to handle all publicity-related and media and social media engagement matters.
Robinsons Online aims to present price-sensitive customers with a value-oriented, rationalised product offering of over 200 specially-curated brands. The brand said that customers can also look forward to collaborations that will debut exclusively on the new platform.
In a conversation with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, the spokesperson for Robinsons said its decision to go online was made after evaluating multiple external and internal factors, part of it being “the opportunity to save the Robinsons brand with such a rich, esteemed heritage in Singapore”. The company also added that it aims to break down physical barriers of brick and mortar stores, by not depending on walk-in customers or delivering brochures to mailboxes. With the digital store, Robinsons said that it can now cater to all customers regardless of time and space.
According to the spokesperson, Robinsons has over 200 brands onboard for this relaunch and are looking to serve online shoppers in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Australia and the United Kingdom.
With its head office based in Singapore, the newly independent Robinsons Department Stores Online will be headed by Jordan Prainito (pictured below), former MD of online homeware brand, Canningvale Australia. Under Prainito’s leadership, Canningvale was able to evolve from a wholesale supplier into a multi-million dollar business in five years.
Prainito said that it was the right time to pivot to a digital-first strategy, as the global pandemic has expedited the mainstream adoption of online shopping. He also shared that the company plans to apply the learnings from Canningvale’s digital transformation, which was achieved through a combination of sourcing expertise, range clarification, system automation, marketing expertise, and a forensic focus on its customers.
Robinson’s spokesperson also told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that its marketing focus now is to provide a great user experience with the online store. It plans to follow up with other channels such as SEO-focused advertorial content to drive traffic to the website and improve keyword rankings in Google and other search engines.
According to Robinsons, it has a large database of loyal customers and subscribers that it intends to communicate exclusive offers to. Therefore, the company also seeks to increase its presence on social media to reach out to its followers and keep them up-to-date with all the brands and offers on the site. In addition, partnerships and affiliate marketing will also be key in spreading awareness and generating traffic and other tactics such as influencer marketing, livestream shopping will be used for key retail events across the year.
During the first year of operations, Robinsons plans to focus on hiring talent in house. According to Prainito, the company plans to hire Singaporeans to fill various positions across the business and has already hired two former Robinsons’ employees.
“Robinsons is a Singaporean icon, if it is to respond to the needs of Singaporeans, it must be run by the people who understand the market. We look forward to introducing our customers to a whole new online shopping experience,” he added.
According to Channel NewsAsia, Robinsons' decision to close its brick and mortar stores in Singapore was due to the changing consumer landscape. According to Robinsons, the rise of online shopping due to changing purchasing behaviour and COVID-19 restriction as well as the dip in demand for large-scale department store concepts, hurt the department store model both in Singapore and globally.
Meanwhile in April this year, eCommerce platform Lazada took over Robinsons’ former site at Raffles City with a pop-up physical store as part of its venture into the O2O retail experience concept. The pop-up store showcases a complementary way for shoppers to engage on both online and offline platforms, and comes as Lazada sees retail businesses picking up pace to attract customers back to their physical stores, following the gradual reopening of malls and shopping centres.
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