Singapore may not have a mall with an Olympic-sized ice rink and 16,000 seater basketball arena like SM Mall of Asia in Manila, or a five storey high slide for Shanghai kids like the Printemps Shopping Centre, but it is taking the evolution of the mall just as seriously.
The move towards experiential shopping is well understood and visible in Australian malls like Westfield Sydney City and Chadstone in Melbourne. The integration of online and real-world shopping is much less so. Here, Singapore leads the way with the country’s first “smart mall”, where the online purchasing environment is truly integrated with the real world, social activity of shopping.
In this model, consumers browse just as they do in any other mall. But when they buy something, instead of carrying it home in a bag it’s delivered directly to their home by SingPost, the logistics provider, at the time and date of their choosing.
The customer doesn’t have to lug his/ her purchases around all day and is free to continue shopping, watch a movie or eat. The retailer, meanwhile, doesn’t need to allocate valuable floor space to storage because fulfilment is offsite. It’s the best of the online and offline worlds, for the shopper and the retailer, a ‘SingPost’ of things to come.
So, how does this sit with the fact that in Southeast Asia, home to over 600 million consumers, e-commerce transactions are expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 32%2 a year over the next 10 years?
It’s tempting to imagine SingPost’s smart mall is doomed before it gets off the ground. That, though, is to miss the point. As CBRE’s director of retail Letty Lee, says, “Singapore is a shopping nation. Shopping isn’t about buying something; it is about socialising and experiencing”.3
The newest malls in the region understand this, deftly weaving the commercial with the social to meet the fast changing needs of a growing, tech savvy population with ever higher levels of disposable income. Show DC in Bangkok, SM Mall of Asia in Manila and Singapore’s smart mall, and its many other shopping destinations, are the response.
What does this mean for local malls? Well, if you want to understand what Australia’s best mega malls might look like in a decade’s time, head not to Los Angeles or Minnesota, home to the world’s first enclosed mall, but to Singapore, Manila or Bangkok, where the hyper social and hyper commercial are interwoven in a way that Australia has yet to experience.
This article has been prepared by APN Funds Management Limited (ACN 080 674 479, AFSL No. 237500) for general information purposes only and without taking your objectives, financial situation or needs into account. To receive further updates and insights from the APN team, sign up for Review, our monthly email newsletter.
- Returns calculated since 19 July 2011 (when the Fund commenced). Returns shown are net of fees and expenses and are annualised for periods greater than one year. Assumes distributions are reinvested. Investors’ tax rates are not taken into account when calculating returns. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance.
- The Straits Times, 12th March 2015