Who says the metaverse is dead? Singapore’s Capitaland bets big on it 

Singapore’s Capitaland recently had its second annual metaverse event, CapitaVerse, a 24-hour experiential party in Decentraland on 5 April. It featured live performances, interactive art and fashion showcases, as well as over SG$120,000 worth of prizes up for grabs.

Taken to a dreamlike venue in the skies, visitors to CapitaVerse were treated to entertaining performances by singer-songwriter Annette Lee and resident Zouk DJs, as well as engaged with interactive art and fashion showcases.

Local brands like the National Gallery Singapore, Zouk, Charles & Keith, and popular international brands like Mastercard, Somersby, Fila, Mac and Urban Revivo, entered the metaverse for the first time through CapitaVerse. 

Conceptualised by Capitaland in collaboration with Bandwagon Labs, CapitaVerse built on the mall operator’s  efforts to leverage innovation and technology to build future-ready lifestyle experiences and elevate the customer journey. 

According to Chris Chong, Capitaland Investment’s CEO for retail & workspace in Singapore and Malaysia, 2023 is set to be bigger and bolder for the mall operator as it seeks to excite its customers with new retail and lifestyle offerings that straddle both the online and physical spheres.

“It’s been an encouraging start to the year with the strong return of shoppers to our malls and steady recovery of inbound tourists to Singapore,” he told Inside Retail.

Chris Chong, Capitaland Investment’s CEO for retail & workspace in Singapore and Malaysia

Positive notes

Chong revealed that the company’s network of malls continued to draw retailers looking to launch flagship stores or new-to-market concepts in Singapore.

“We ended 2022 on a positive note, welcoming 270 new stores throughout the year from diverse trade categories ranging from fashion and beauty to dining and entertainment, while updating the trade mix across our malls with a high portfolio occupancy of 98.3 per cent,” he said.

He reiterated that ‘experiential retail’ is key in attracting and engaging shoppers in a post-pandemic world and this is part of a holistic strategy that retailers are increasingly adopting.

Chong said the company has been actively positioning its downtown properties across its retail portfolio to stay ahead of the curve with experiential lifestyle concepts, diverse and quality retail and dining offerings, and vibrant community events.

Rejuvenation is key

“We have also been actively amping up the vibrancy of the retail scene with the recent opening of Sengkang Grand Mall on 6 March, delighting our shoppers in the North-East region of Singapore,” he added.

He also revealed that Raffles City’s recent reconfiguration added 65 new brands across Levels 1 to 3. 

“Besides globally renowned beauty brands such as Creed, Diptyque, Givenchy Beauty and Guerlain, the rejuvenated Raffles City is also home to a variety of home and living brands such as Kave Home’s very first store in Singapore featuring high-quality designer furniture,” he explained.

Shoppers can also look forward to the ongoing transformation of CQ @ Clarke Quay into a day-and-night destination with a wide range of lifestyle and food and beverage offerings enjoyed in beautiful riverfront and heritage settings.

“We are also updating the outdoor refreshment areas and working with tenants to make CQ @ Clarke Quay a pet-friendly attraction to keep up with the changing lifestyle of our customers. The transformation is expected to be completed in 3Q 2023,” he noted.

On the digital front, the company’s eCapitaVoucher can now be utilised at more than 3,200 stores across 28 participating properties.

Metaverse’s importance

While there has been a lot of hyperbole surrounding the potential demise of the metaverse in terms of the retail mix, Chong believes it adds a new layer to retail, bringing with it an immersive experience to anyone, anywhere in the world.

“It complements and elevates the physical shopping experience, which will always have a place as shoppers seek out tactile experiences,” he explained.

With CapitaVerse, he said the company could offer customers meaningful real-world privileges that they can receive in a tangible way, giving customers a greater impetus to interact with their favourite brands, both online and in stores.

“The overwhelmingly positive reception towards CapitaVerse last year bolstered our confidence in developing more interactive experiences in our second edition in 2023,” he said.

The company received an uptick of 18 per cent more attendees (close to 2,000) to CapitaVerse this year, and on average, users spent three times longer, over 36 minutes, interacting with the virtual experiences.

“With the greater appeal of a larger prize pool and wider range of real-world prizes on offer, CapitaVerse’s virtual hunts attracted close to 2,000 participants, recording an increase of more than 54 per cent,” he stressed.

Good things take time

As with all new technologies, Chong believes it may take a while before retailers and consumers embrace the metaverse, so he is predicting a conservative rate of adoption in the initial phase.

“The new generation of shoppers in Singapore love hanging out in shopping malls while staying attuned to the latest digital trends, including the rise of the metaverse,” he elaborated.

The company recognises that shoppers are craving for physical and tangible experiences at our malls that are fresh and immersive. 

“Therein lies the opportunity for Capitaland to create trend-setting retail experiences by traversing the physical realm and metaverse,” he said.

According to him, the company set the stage as the first mall operator in Singapore to enter the metaverse with one-of-a-kind experiential parties that distinguish its malls from the others. 

“Since then, we are seeing more brands and partners such as Singapore Tourism Board and DBS come onboard to announce their own metaverse forays that deepen engagement with their respective customers and stakeholders,” he concluded.

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