Great Singapore Sale to go online this year with ‘new norm’ shopping experience amid COVID-19 pandemic

People are seen wearing a protective face mask at Orchard Road, Singapore on Jan 28.

SINGAPORE: The Great Singapore Sale (GSS) will be an online affair this year, with online deals, virtual workshops, live-streaming activities and technology like virtual reality for shoppers to create a “new norm” shopping experience amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The annual sale, which is called “eGSS: Shop. Win. Experience” this year, is set to run from Sep 9 to Oct 10, said its organisers on Thursday (Jul 23).

It is part of the Singapore Tourism Board’s (STB) S$45 million marketing campaign to encourage Singaporeans to take a local holiday and comes after a tough few months for the retail industry, which is among the worst hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

“This year’s strategic direction of eGSS 2020 takes into account the circumstances in which the retail industry is operating in,” said Singapore Retailers Association’s (SRA) president R Dhinakaran in a press release.

The SRA’s existing GoSpree app will be revamped to work on both desktop and mobile, and will “form the backbone in which retailers can leverage on an agnostic unified marketing platform for retailers, F&B operators, hoteliers and attraction operators”, said SRA’s executive director Rose Tong during an online media briefing.

The platform will go “live” in five days, a spokesperson added in response to media queries.

The SRA is organising this year’s GSS in collaboration with the Singapore Furniture Industries Council (SFIC), Textile & Fashion Federation (TaFF) and the Association of Singapore Attractions (ASA).

The business association had said in May that it would not be organising the GSS this year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Asked why the SRA is making a U-turn, Ms Tong said it was due to “popular demand” from retailers.

“GSS has been around for 25 years and it still is relevant,” she said. “So the idea of not having it, I think they felt that something was missing.”

Initiatives such as the e-commerce booster package by Enterprise Singapore, have also given retailers a leg-up in going online.

“We felt that it was very timely, that when this eGSS takes off in September, they would have had some experience. They would also be on these marketplaces, if not already creating their e-commerce sites, (and) be well primed by then to be part of this eGSS and to support it actively,” said Ms Tong.

Asked whether there are concerns about holding the annual sales event amid a grim economic climate, TaFF President Wilson Teo said people still want to spend despite the doom and gloom, and it is up to retailers to get consumers “excited”.

“I think it is still possible if we engage the consumer in the right way … so more importantly, it is whether we are able to offer the experience as well as a compelling offer,” he said.


Highlights of the online GSS include limited daily deals across different categories such as retail, F&B, attractions and hotels.

Shoppers can also take part in interactive games on GoSpree and win prizes, which the organisers hope will direct customers back to the brick-and-mortar stores.

The sales event will also tap on digital technology like virtual reality and augmented reality to give shoppers “an immersive experience” when viewing the products online.

For instance, the SFIC will have a “digital and experiential furniture mini-mall” called the Furniture Centrum. This allows shoppers to make purchases, uncover special promotions while interacting with brands through games and livestreams, said its president Mark Yong.

There will also be virtual workshops for shoppers, as well as live-streaming on Facebook by popular influencers on brands and services. These live-streaming sessions will be held every Wednesday night for two hours with limited products on sale so as “to create a sense of urgency”, said SRA’s Ms Tong.

The ASA is joining the retail sales event for the first time, said its chairman Kevin Cheong, who hopes that this can “remind Singaporeans that there are attractions” at home.

Its members will offer a range of promotions, from family passes to offers with longer validity, as well as connect audiences with online content through the GoSpree platform.

“There are lifestyle, recreation, social activities which can occupy the weekends and even weekdays on your time-off,” said Mr Cheong. “There is a good alternative to traveling and we have it in Singapore.”

The GSS also aims to spur more businesses to embark on digitalisation.

Mr Yong from SFIC said the furniture retail industry has long relied on the traditional brick-and-mortar model. Even with safe distancing measures in place, businesses still find it “very challenging” to attract customers back to its stores.

While many in the industry have started going online, there are many others that the trade body hopes to nudge along the path of digitalisation.

“In essence, the eGSS not only provides the much-needed reprieve for the furniture retail industry, but we also hope that it will pave the way for the entire ecosystem for furniture furnishings (to) embrace digital technology,” he said.

Z24 News

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