The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands continues to be one of the most popular destinations for shoppers who crave luxury retail experiences in Singapore. Its continued strong financials in the April-June quarter, with revenue increasing to US$55 million from US$39 million in the same period last year, is testament to its strong fundamentals. “We have seen an accelerated recovery this year due to the resumption of travel and easing of Covid-19 restrictions since April,” Hazel Chan, vice presi
president of retail at Marina Bay Sands, told Inside Retail. This was complemented by the return of headliner events to Singapore, such as the Formula One Grand Prix, and a buzz of activities around the Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade. “The Shoppes is able to capture the upswing in tourism recovery, while continuing to attract returning local visitors,” she added. Hazel Chan, vice president of retail at Marina Bay Sands Business as usual The resumption of large-scale meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions has also resulted in more business delegates discovering the wide variety of international luxury brands at The Shoppes. According to Chan, luxury sales continue to be the biggest revenue driver for The Shoppes, particularly in the watch, jewellery and fashion categories. While the world may be reeling from a host of economic headwinds and geopolitical turbulence, The Shoppes has been insulated from these external factors. “Being part of an integrated resort is one of the unique selling points for The Shoppes and it has helped in buffering some of the impact resulting from external economic factors,” Chan said. The Shoppes creates a unique place for visitors to stay, shop, eat and play all under one roof. “Our strong ‘premium to luxe’ positioning also sets us apart, allowing us to retain, acquire and grow our clientele base, especially ultra-luxe shoppers,” she added. Holding on to customers Like most businesses in Southeast Asia, this retail icon was laser focused on holding onto its customers during the pandemic. “During the pandemic, we were focused on growing and cultivating our local clientele base. The team took the time to engage our local clients on a deeper level and truly cater to their unique needs,” Chan noted. Interestingly, the team noticed a significant increase in local demand for luxury items. “Leveraging our key CRM programs allowed us to tier our reward systems and curate customised experiences to incentivise our customers,” she said. According to her, this not only helped The Shoppes build stronger brand loyalty amongst its customers, but more importantly, it drove conversions for retailers. Bolstering the tenant mix Brands such as Buccellati, Acne Studios, Amaffi and Dior are continuing their stay at The Shoppes. Dior has also revitalised its duplexes to introduce unique concepts to shoppers. Watchmakers like Tag Heuer, Bell & Ross, Tudor, Seiko and independent designer Sincere Haute Horlogerie are also set to stay at The Shoppes. “Some of the newly refurbished duplexes include Bottega Veneta, Gucci, Dior, Bulgari, Balenciaga, Celine and Fendi,” Chan said. Expanding The Shoppes’ food and beverage offerings is a key focus, and earlier this year, Roberta’s Pizza, New York’s swanky pizzeria, made its first foray outside of the United States with an outlet at the resort. Renowned hot pot chain HaidiLao and Jumbo Signatures as well as Michelin-starred Imperial Treasure Fine Teochew Cuisine will also be opening new locations at The Shoppes in November, further solidifying its line-up. “On the back of these strong results, we are gearing up in the years ahead to introduce many more new-to-market brands and dining options, as well as recognize shoppers with bespoke experiences through our unique loyalty programmes,” Chan said. Important observations The resumption of travel and easing of movement restrictions in Singapore has been a major factor in the revival of the retail sector, and has given the country a distinct advantage over its neighbours. “Singapore had the early mover advantage in attracting affluent tourists from neighbouring countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia,” Chan said. She believes that shoppers are gravitating to the retail scene at The Shoppes because it offers a wider selection of brands and products compared to retailers in other countries in the region. “The profiles of visitors who shop with us have also changed, from more mass tourists pre-Covid to more affluent visitors with high spending power who seek exclusive experiences that meet their high standards,” she said. The role of e-commerce When it comes to the luxury market, physical stores play an important role in conveying a sense of grandeur, but Chan feels that e-commerce can harmoniously coexist with physical stores to provide a holistic experience to shoppers. From browsing the newest collections, to comparing prices and making an appointment, it has never been easier for luxury brands to connect with their customers online, thanks to a plethora of on-demand digital solutions. “The luxury consumption shift toward digital is also a generational change, as Millennials and Generation Z drive greater and more innovate ways to engage in and experiment with brands today,” Chan said. But as far as she is concerned, physical stores remain vital to the luxury industry for personalised high-touch service experiences. “With the reopening of most markets, the clear demand for real-time human interaction has proven that nothing can compare to the full sensory experience that physical stores deliver,” she added. Online to offline The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands was the first luxury mall in Singapore to offer a hybrid online-to-offline ‘click-and-deliver’ style service, Online Shopping Concierge. This is a platform that marries the convenience of online shopping with the personalised, high touch service associated with luxury shopping experiences. Launched in April 2020, the platform started with 10 luxury retailers featuring over 200 SKUs. It had since grown to 80 retailers with more than 2500 SKUs featured at any one time. The products range from beauty, fashion, watches, jewellery, accessories and shoes to lifestyle items. “When guests reserve the merchandise online, they are treated with a personalised pre-delivery consultation before the purchased products are delivered to their homes,” Chan explained. Through the platform, the team at The Shoppes is able to gather user preferences and introduce attractive and specific promotions to meaningfully engage clientele. Deepening loyalty from tenants The Shoppes managed to achieve a 99.7 percent retail occupancy in the second quarter of 2022, which is no mean feat in itself. The opening of Apple’s impressive floating sphere store, which sits directly on water, amidst the pandemic in September 2020 was an outstanding example of the faith and confidence that retailers have in The Shoppes brand. “Our tenants are our most valuable partners, whom we are in constant conversations with to explore ways to collaborate closer,” Chan said. In February this year, Van Cleef & Arpels opened A Journey through a Poetry of Time, inviting shoppers to discover their most lavish creations which included haute horlogerie and high-end jewellery. In April, Louis Vuitton’s 200 Trunks: 200 Visionaires: The Exhibition made the first stop on its global journey at the Event Plaza in The Shoppes. “We reconnect with shoppers through offering in-store experiences and first-hand access to limited edition pieces. Shoppers appreciate being pampered and recognised through the range of bespoke experiences that we offer,” she said. Maintaining standards For a retail icon like The Shoppes, maintaining a wide variety of luxury brands and ensuring an eclectic blend of experiences is something that can not be taken for granted. “Having a good understanding and instinct for what our discerning shoppers want is crucial. What they look for are luxury, exclusivity and rarity,” Chan stated. The Shoppes has a total of 34 new-to-market brands, and approximately 60 brands have flagship stores at the shopping destination. “A recent example would be the relaunch of Sincere Haute Horlogerie as SHH, which has a new concept boutique that houses a curation of 19 luxury independent watch brands such as Greubel Forsey, Laurent Ferrier and Lang & Heyne, to name a few,” Chan said. A brand like SHH is a unique offering that she is glad to take on at The Shoppes as there aren’t many watch retailers that can pull together the range of luxury independent watch brands under one roof. “We also introduced the crème-de-la-crème of home and living brands last year. Agility and adaptability to suit the evolving needs of luxury shoppers has enabled us to stay ahead of the curve,” she said.