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Singapore Aims To Locally Produce 30 Percent Of Food Requirement By 2030

RETAIL / FMCG - Singapore
March 2019

The Singapore government has set a target to locally produce 30% of Singapore’s nutritional needs by 2030. Currently, Singapore imports over 90% of its food requirements. To achieve this “30 by 30 vision”, the government will help the local agri-food industry to adopt new solutions to raise productivity, apply R&D, strengthen climate resilience, and overcome Singapore's resource constraints. This announcement was made by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, at the Committee of Supply Debate 2019, on 7 March 2019.

The Minister said that the Agriculture Productivity Fund (APF) has supported local farms such as Kok Fah and Ho Ka Clean to integrate climate control and automation into their operations, thereby raising their capacity and productivity. The APF administered by the Singapore Food Agency or SFA (previously by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore, whose food responsbilities have been transferred to the SFA) helps local farms to upgrade their farms and conduct R&D. More than 90 farms have benefitted from the APF. The government will work similarly with existing coastal fish farms. As an example of technological innovation, the minister cited  the adoption of closed containment aquaculture systems by Singapore Aquaculture Technologies. This protects fish production from sea-borne threats such as algae blooms or oil spills. The Singapore government's vision is to develop Singapore into a tropical aquaculture hub. One area being studied is deep sea fish farming, which can contribute significantly to local production.  A local first mover is Barramundi Asia, which uses large sea cages to culture Asian seabass in the deep waters off Pulau Semakau, Singapore's offshore landfill.  Using technology, Barramundi Asia can vaccinate 9000 fish in one hour, compared to just 600 manually. SFA will work with agencies and industry to open up more sites for deep sea farming with technology.

Singapore will also expand production in state-of-the-art indoor farms, using high-tech solutions like LED lighting and climate control. SFA will support the growing interest in urban farming, such as on rooftops. Such farms can also be used to test-bed innovative technologies for growing food. The Ministry is working with Singapore Land Authority (SLA), Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) to pilot this concept, re-purposing the former Henderson Secondary School into an integrated space comprising an urban farm, a child care centre, a nursing home and a dialysis centre. 

The government is aiming to grow an ecosystem of R&D players to support agri- and aquaculture industry development. SFA’s Marine Aquaculture Centre will contribute to this effort by sharing its expertise and providing facilities for R&D. The RIEC has also set aside SGD 144 million (USD 106 million) for this.  

The government has worked with higher educational institutions, Republic Polytechnic and Temasek Polytechnic to launch SkillsFuture Earn & Learn programmes or ELP for fresh ITE graduates, leading to diplomas in Urban Agricultural Technology, and Aquaculture. The ELP will emplace ITE graduates in industry and equip them with the knowledge and skills to become agriculture and aquaculture technicians. We will also partner universities to groom Agri- and Aqua- technologists and culturists, urban farming specialists, and researchers to meet future needs.

(Sources: Straits Times; Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, Singapore)

Luxury Shopping Destination In Singapore Sees Record Revenues In 2018

RETAIL / FMCG - Singapore
February 2019

The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands witnessed its most successful year ever in 2018, with revenues of USD 179 million, a 7% rise from 2017. Retail tenant sales at The Shoppes,which enjoys an occupancy of 95.4%, jumped 19% to USD 1,898 per square foot compared to the preceding year. The Shoppes also retained its top position in tourism shopping, representing an estimated 25% of the tax-free tourist market in Singapore. This is based on industry metrics that track tax-refunded tourist receipts. 

This performance of the luxury shopping destination comes in the midst of struggles for most brick-and-mortar retail, in the face of competition from e-commerce. 

A press release from Marina Bay Sands attributed the success to an ongoing retail remix strategy that started in 2012, which saw the mall double its footprint with luxury brands in the form of duplexes, as well as expansion into luxury childrenswear. This strategy was coupled with other attractions such as late-night shopping, in-store exclusives, and one of the most generous loyalty programmes in Singapore, has resulted in 120,000 shoppers walking through the doors of the mall daily. 

There are plans to unveil several new-to-market brands, expansions, and luxury flagship stores in the first half of 2019. Following the recent opening of Moncler’s flagship duplex and biggest store in APAC; as well as the expansion of luxury fashion house Hermès from a single unit to a duplex store, Philipp Plein will launch its biggest store in South East Asia this quarter at the Shoppes. These new additions will bring the mall’s total number of luxury duplexes to 17. Other brands joining The Shoppes this year include new-to-market Italian luxury shoe label Gianvito Rossi with its first standalone store in Southeast Asia, and French designer label Roger Vivier’s Singapore flagship store. Delvaux, one of the world’s oldest fine leather luxury goods purveyors, has also just unveiled its second boutique in Singapore, ahead of a host of new openings including COS, Lululemon, Polo Ralph Lauren and SK Gold. Italian fashion brands Loro Piana, Stefano Ricci, luxury Japanese pearl company Mikimoto, and French High Jewellery Maison Van Cleef & Arpels will expand their presence at the Shoppes.

(Sources: Business Times; Marina Bay Sands)

Singapore Considering Banning, Taxing High Sugar Beverages

RETAIL / FMCG - Singapore
January 2019

The Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Health Promotion Board (HPB) of Singapore are conducting a public consultation from 4 December 2018 to 25 January 2019  to seek views from the public and key stakeholders on the possible measures to reduce Singaporeans’ sugar intake from pre-packaged sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs). Singapore has the highest prevalence of diabetes among developed nations, with nearly one in nine persons suffering from the disease.  MOH declared a 'War on Diabetes' in 2016 to mobilise a whole-of-society effort to tackle the disease and the steps being considered to reduce consumption of SSBs are part of this. 

Singaporeans are consuming on average twelve teaspoons (or 60g) of sugar daily. More than half of Singaporeans’ daily sugar intake comes from SSBs, of which pre-packaged SSBs contribute 64% of this intake. More pre-packaged SSBs are consumed per person per day in Singapore than in many other Asian jurisdictions. Although the average sugar level of all pre-packaged SSBs has fallen from five to three teaspoons over the past 10 years, the average sugar level for medium- and higher-sugar products which make up over half of the total sales of pre-packaged SSBs, has remained high at five teaspoons.

MOH is seeking views on four possible measures, which are not mutually exclusive, towards pre-packaged SSBs:

  1. Mandatory Front-of-Pack Nutrition Label: MOH says that FOP nutrition-summary labels, as compared to a full listing of nutrition information, have been shown to be more effective in helping consumers easily identify products with higher sugar content and/or poorer nutrition quality, as these do not require sophisticated nutrient knowledge. Overseas experience has also shown that adoption of such labels is slow and biased towards healthier products when implemented on a voluntary basis. 
  2. Advertising Regulations: Currently Singapore has voluntary guidelines to limit the advertising of less healthy food and drinks to children which cover only limited TV time-belts and media channels. To address the needs of the general population, two options are being considered: 1) Make the current restrictions mandatory and expand them to include more TV time-belts and media channels that children are exposed to; or 2) Ban advertising across all time-belts and mass media channels.
  3. Excise Duty on Manufacturers and Importers: Duties on SSBs would aim to encourage manufacturers to reformulate their products and to encourage consumers to choose healthier drinks that are lower in sugar content or drink plain water. 
  4. Ban on Higher-Sugar Pre-Packaged SSBs: This would introduce a nationwide ban on the sale of higher-sugar pre-packaged SSBs to further discourage consumption of such SSBs. Currently, SSBs with more than three teaspoons of sugar per 250ml serving are not allowed to be sold in schools and on government premises. In 2017, seven major SSB manufacturers have also pledged to limit the sugar content in their pre-packaged SSBs sold in Singapore to no more than six teaspoons per 250ml serving. 

(Sources: Ministry of Health, Singapore; Channel NewsAsia)


Singapore's First 'Phygital' Store Launched

RETAIL / FMCG - Singapore
November 2018

Leading real estate developer, CapitaLand, launched Singapore's first 'phygital' (physical + digital) store, called NomadX, on 8 November. The multi-label concept store in the Plaza Singapura mall, aims to offer a new blend of physical and digital experience. The shopper journey begins with an onboarding gamification process using facial recognition technology, whereby members of CapitaLand’s CapitaStar programme can opt to register their visits and win attractive gifts and STAR$®.  Based on their profiles and preferences, shoppers will be assigned to one of four tribes – Sea, Mountain, Forest, and Wind – which correspond to The Enigmatic Shopper, The Conquer-It-All Shopper, the Love the Earth Shopper and the Live-It-Up Shopper profiles respectively.  Each shopper profile is tied to a proposed shopping route, as well as product and deal recommendations.

With touchscreen televisions provided by Samsung, shoppers interact with product walls using QR codes as part of NomadX’s screen-to-mobile customer engagement capability. Inside NomadX, Sony powers a Sonic Surf VR (SSVR) audio technology that combines multi-channel speakers and proprietary software to simulate surround and partitioning sounds for an immersive aural experience.  In addition, Sony Music Entertainment Singapore has curated a bespoke NomadX playlist, while Oo La Lab has created a customized lust and green scent. Based on their preferences and the number of visits, visitors to NomadX will be rewarded with exclusive CapitaStar e-deals and STAR$®, which are accessible via the CapitaStar app and redeemable in-store.  NomadX adopts a cashless payment system. In addition to payment by credit cards, NomadX accepts ePayment modes such as StarPay – the in-app ePayment feature on CapitaStar – and NETS.

Retailers can set up temporary homes (like nomads) as NomadX incorporates short-term leases and “plug & play” retail units that are integrated with smart retail infrastructure.  This includes interactive technologies to encourage product discovery and play. The store’s fluid layout and data analytics capabilities are expected to make NomadX a suitable testbed for retailers to trial new concepts and products and respond swiftly to consumer reception and feedback.

NomadX opened with a curated selection of 18 tenants offering a wide range of fashion, beauty, consumer electronics, gadgets and food & beverage offerings.  These include the first physical outlets in Singapore for Alibaba’s Taobao, as well as that of online fashion businesses Digital Fashion Week, evenodd, Révolte and Style Theory.  New-to-market brands include audio products specialist JBL and restaurant Bizen Okayama Wagyu Steakhouse by Aston Soon.

(Sources: CapitaLand; Singapore Business Review)

(Image: CapitaLand)

NTUC Enterprise Acquiring Food Court Operator

RETAIL / FMCG - Singapore
October 2018

NTUC Enterprise Co-operative Limited (NTUC Enterprise) announced on 21 September that it is going to acquire ood court, coffeeshop and hawker centre operator, Kopitiam Investment Pte Ltd and its subsidiaries (Kopitiam). This acquisition is expected to support NTUC Enterprise’s social mission to ensure that cooked food remains affordable and accessible to the Singapore community.

The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of 2018. Upon completion of the transaction, the two entities will continue to operate separately, with their respective management teams and employees remaining in place. They will work together to leverage mutual capabilities and seek out common opportunities for synergies, including the use of technologies.

Founded in 1988, Kopitiam, operates 56 food courts, 21 coffeeshops, 3 hawker centres and 2 central kitchens. It serves about 350,000 meals a day nationwide, employs more than 1,000 staff and manages more than 1,000 food stalls.

NTUC Enterprise, the social enterprise arm of the National Trade Union Congress (NTUC), and its eight social enterprises provide access to affordable and quality goods and services in areas like health and eldercare, childcare, daily essentials, cooked food and financial services. Through NTUC Foodfare Co-operative Limited (NTUC Foodfare), NTUC Enterprise provides affordable, quality and healthier meal options. Every stall at an NTUC Foodfare coffeeshop and new hawker centre offers consumers a budget meal priced from SGD 2 and SGD 2.80 (USD 1.45 to 2), respectively. NTUC Foodfare also operates a social outreach programme, Rice Garden, designed with lower-income consumers in mind. Rice Garden offers affordable and nutritious meals priced from SGD 1.5 (USD 1.1). In 2017, Rice Garden  served more than 4.5 million meals.

(Sources: Business Times; NTUC Enterprise)

Singapore Takes Steps To Boost Cashless Payments At Retail Outlets

RETAIL / FMCG - Singapore
September 2018

The launch of a unified QR code and the appointment of electronic payments service provider, NETS, to operate a unified payment system for hawker centers and coffee shops is expected to boost digital payments at retail outlets in Singapore. This is part of the Singapore government's drive towards a cashless economy.  On 17 September, the Singapore Quick Response Code (SGQR) was officially launched, combining multiple payment QR codes into a single SGQR label, making QR code-based mobile payments simple for both consumers and merchants. SGQR will be adopted by 27 payment schemes including PayNow, NETS, GrabPay, Liquid Pay and Singtel DASH, and will be deployed progressively over the next six months. 

Merchants will only need to display a single SGQR label showing the e-payments it accepts, resulting in less clutter on the store front and faster payments processing. The addition of new QR payments options, both domestic and international, are also streamlined into the single SGQR label. SGQR does not require a terminal, and hence is a cheaper way to accept various e-payment options.

On September 12,  Enterprise Singapore, together with the Housing and Development Board (HDB), National Environment Agency (NEA) and JTC Corporation (JTC) have appointed NETS as the master acquirer for a unified e-payment solution for coffee shops, hawker centres and industrial canteens. In Singapore, about 40% of dining occasions take place at coffee shops, hawker centres and canteens. In the next two years, this initiative targets to have the e-payment solution to be adopted across 200 coffee shops, 25 hawker centres and 20 industrial canteens.

By August 2019, customers dining at coffee shops, hawker centres and industrial canteens can choose from all 20 payment schemes through unified touchpoints., which includes CEPAS transport cards such as EZ-Link, concession cards and NETS FlashPay, as well as mobile payment applications. The schemes will be rolled out progressively in two phases. The first batch of 10 payment schemes will go live by the end of this year.

Merchants will be given a terminal for card payments and an SGQR code to accept and process transactions from the 20 payment schemes. The appointment of a master acquirer will also eliminate the need for multiple terminals or quick response (QR) codes, and there will be no need for merchants to liaise with different individual payment schemes and acquirers. Payment transactions will be credited directly into the merchant’s bank account within one day after close of business, for transactions made before 11PM. Transactions made via American Express, Mastercard and Visa will be credited within two days after close of business. Transaction receipts will be consolidated into a single report by the master acquirer. Merchants will also be offered the option of integrating their e-payment terminal with their point of sales (POS) system where applicable, to better measure sales performance and consumer purchase behaviour.

Under the initiative, a merchant discount rate (fee paid by the merchant to the acquirer for the payment transactions) of 0.5% was agreed upon, which is below the average industry MDR of between 2% and 5%. The government will provide funding support over three years, bringing down the MDR to 0%. NETS will also waive the terminal rental fee for merchants. 

(Sources: Enterprise Singapore; Monetary Authority of Singapore; Straits Times; Channel NewsAsia)


New Statutory Board To Oversee Food Safety And Security In Singapore

RETAIL / FMCG - Singapore
August 2018

The Singapore Government has announced the establishment of a new statutory board, called the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) under the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) to oversee food safety and security, across the food supply chain, from production, import and manufacturing to retail

SFA will combine food-related functions currently carried out by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Health Sciences Authority (HSA), thereby harmonising regulations and combining existing licenses for food businesses, including farmers, food manufacturers, food retailers and food service operators, businesses. In addition, a National Centre for Food Science (NCFS) will be established under SFA to consolidate the food laboratory capabilities of the three agencies under one roof. The NCFS will bring together key competencies in food diagnostics, and research and development in food safety to ensure that food continues to be safe for consumption and standards are benchmarked internationally.

In parallel, all non-food plant and animal related functions of AVA will be transferred to the National Parks Board (NParks) under the Ministry of National Development (MND).

SFA will collaborate with the Economic Development Board, Enterprise Singapore and Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) and partner food businesses, to strengthen capabilities, tap on technologies to raise productivity, undertake research to develop new lines of business, and catalyse industry transformation. 

The creation of the dedicated agency is expected to strengthen Singapore’s food security and resilience against geopolitical risks and climate change, and position Singapore companies to seize exciting opportunities in the future economy. This step also aims to strengthen Singapore's management of foodborne disease outbreaks to protect public health, through closer coordination of responses to food-related issues, including product tracing and recall, and engagement of various stakeholders and the public.

(Source: Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore; Channel NewsAsia; Straits Times)

Over 150 Outlets At Changi Airport To Accept WeChat Payments

RETAIL / FMCG - Singapore
July 2018

Over 150 outlets at Singapore's Changi Airport, including Changi’s duty-free, luxury retail shops and online store iShopChangi, will accept WeChat Pay as a mode of payment. This is part of a hree-year marketing partnership between Changi Airport Group (CAG) and WeChat Pay to launch and publicise joint shopping promotions at Changi Airport for WeChat Pay users. 

WeChat Pay is an online payment platform integrated into the popular messaging platform WeChat, and a popular mode of payment for Chinese consumers. WeChat currently has more than a billion monthly active users, and this number is growing year-on-year.

According to CAG's press release, Chinese passengers accounted for about a third of Changi Airport’s total sales in 2017. The WeChat Pay platform is expected to provide added convenience for Chinese passengers when shopping and dining across the airport's four terminals. 

With this launch, Changi Airport will be the first airport in Southeast Asia to launch WeChat Pay as a mobile payment platform on a large scale across its wide range of commercial offerings. It will have the widest acceptance of WeChat Pay among all Asian airports, outside of China. Changi Airport will work closely with WeChat Pay to roll out the payment platform to most of the airport’s merchants and brands by the end of this year. 

Mr Edwin Lim, General Manager of Changi Airport Group’s Advertising, Marketing and Promotions said, “We are pleased to be able to offer WeChat Pay as an additional payment platform for our passengers. This will provide an additional payment platform for our Chinese passengers, and will allow them to shop and dine with added convenience. Through this partnership, we will also be able to send targeted marketing messages to WeChat users. We will continue to explore other ways to offer customised services for our passengers, to ensure they have an unparalleled Changi Experience when travelling through Changi Airport.”

“Singapore is an important part of the Belt and Road Initiative, and Changi Airport is the transportation hub of Singapore. Through this collaboration, WeChat Pay will provide a more convenient shopping experience to Chinese tourists in Changi Airport. We hope the collaboration will also provide fresh options and new perspectives to Changi Airport’s retail operations. We look forward to a long-lasting and stable partnership between WeChat Pay and Changi Airport," added Ms Grace Yin, Operation Director of WeChat Pay. 

(Sources: Changi Airport Group)

(Image credit: Cenyic/ CC BY 3.0)

French Sporting Goods Retailer To Open Its Biggest Store In Singapore In January 2019

RETAIL / FMCG - Singapore
June 2018

French sporting goods retailer, Decathlon, which is the largest sporting goods retailer in the world, has announced plans to open its fourth and biggest store in Singapore by January 2019, in collaboration with the national sports agency, Sport Singapore. Decathlon has a 15-year lease from SportSG, which owns the land. 

Decathlon opened its first outlet in Singapore in 2016. This new 5,000 sq m outlet, called the “Decathlon Singapore Lab” will be located at Stadium Boulevard. The store will have free to play areas outside the store and allow testing of products in the extensive experience zones in-store via virtual simulations and augmented reality.

Decathlon also plans to enhance users’ experience using technology - for instance through connected fitting rooms, foot scans, mobile payment solutions, including the integration of electronic-wallet capabilities in payment systems allowing sports users to transact and gain rewards through their devices both in stores and through online platforms. 

SportSG and Decathlon will also work together to help further promote sport, health and wellness to Singaporeans. Mr Lim Teck Yin, Chief Executive Officer, Sport Singapore and Mr Yves Claude, Asia CEO of Decathlon, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) covering multiple areas including Active Health, ActiveSG Academies and Clubs, and the ActiveSG Sport Centres.

Active Health is the national social movement for health and wellness that empowers and motivates individuals to take ownership of their health and well-being. Through the MOU, Active Health Labs will be set-up in selected Decathlon stores where members of the public can learn how to manage their health. They will have access to free programmes, as well as a wide selection of sports and fitness products to supplement their fitness regime.

Under the MoU, Decathlon will also become one of ActiveSG’s partners for the provision of equipment and apparel to ActiveSG Academies and Clubs, which aim to make it accessible for anyone to take part in sport regardless of ability or fitness level. There are currently 10 academies and clubs – Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Floorball, Flying Disc, Football, Hockey, Masters, Outdoor Adventure, Tennis. The Academies and Clubs will also tie up with Decathlon to conduct sport-related events such as workshops and roadshows. 

SportSG will be working with Decathlon to bring ‘Experience’ and ‘Collection’ stores to sports centres around the island. There are also plans to install vending machines in sports centres where sports users will be able to purchase Decathlon products on-the-go.

(Sources: Sport Singapore, Straits Times)

(Photo credit: Sport Singapore)

Digital Platforms Launched To Help Singapore's Food & Beverage Manufacturers To Expand Overseas

RETAIL / FMCG - Singapore
May 2018

Several initiatives to help local food and beverage manufacturers innovate and expand overseas were launched in April 2018 during Food & Hotel Asia 2018 food and hospitality trade show, with more than one-third of food and beverage outlets in Singapore having already adopted some of the technologies showcased.

The first is a website developed by the Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF) and Innovative Hub to bring the Singapore Pavilion at industry trade show Food & Hotel Asia 2018 (FHA 2018) to the Alibaba portal, and to help connect local businesses and overseas buyers beyond FHA 2018.

The Second is the launch of the SMF SMART app, an online business-to-business (b2B) platform developed by SMF and technology company i-Sprint Innovations. The app consolidates orders for overseas buyers and has features like traceability and authentication of products through QR code and IT security technology. It allows purchase orders from individual food and beverage manufacturers to be consolidated before being shipped overseas. There are currently 871 products being sold by 103 Singapore companies on the app’s digital marketplace. 

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) is also working with major food suppliers such as Australian Fruit Juice, Globe Mart, Indoguna, Vismark and Win Sin to guide their clients – small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the food and beverage sector- through the digitalisation process using a B2B e-sourcing platform developed by Zeemakrt. Through this platform, food-service operators can streamline the procurement and sourcing of food suppliers, and achieve cost savings of between 1-15% in the process.

Strong partnerships between the government, industry stakeholders and trade groups and chambers are expected to continue as the country is moving forward with its digitalisation processes.

(Source: Channel News Asia; Business Times)

All-In-One E-Payment Service Launched To 2,500 Singapore Retailers

RETAIL / FMCG - Singapore
April 2018

In April 2018, CapitaLand launched its all-in-one ePayment service, StarPay, on its Digital Merchant Services Suite (DMSS), bringing around 2,500 retailers in Singapore on board its digitalisation drive. In support of Singapore’s Smart Nation drive, CapitaLand has introduced StarPay – an ePayment service that aims to generate new business opportunities for retailers and enhance convenience for shoppers. With the rollout of StarPay, over 2,500 stores in 17 participating CapitaLand malls across Singapore will be provided with smart terminals by the end of 2018. The smart terminal is designed as a versatile all-in-one ePayment service that promotes interoperability of multiparty systems. In addition to StarPay, CapitalAnd DMSS includes deals and vouchers management platforms; customer analytics dashboards; as well as ‘Loyalty as a Service’ offerings, which will allow retailers to leverage the CapitaStar engine as their own loyalty programmes.

For shoppers, StarPay will be incorporated as an in-app feature on CapitaStar to enable them to transact with participating retailers using different ePayment modes, including debit and credit cards, QR codes, as well as local and international payment apps. For retailers, StarPay is a key component of the CapitalLand Digital Merchant Services Suite (DMSS), which is built with digital enablers in four focus areas, namely, analytics, transactions, rewards and operations.

StarPay will be rolled out across participating malls progressively, starting with Raffles City Singapore on 18 April 2018.

(Source: CapitaLand)

Microsoft Unveils First SEA Surface Store In Singapore

RETAIL / FMCG - Singapore
March 2018

The tech giant, Microsoft, announced in early March the opening of its first Surface store in Singapore, and its first in South East Asia. The store is located in the Harvey Norman flagship superstore at Millennia Walk and will start operations on 10 March 2018. The Surface premium experience heralds the start of the new Surface Concierge service in the country, dedicated to supporting customers who own any Surface, no matter where or when they bought it.

Microsoft said that it will make its full range of Surface products available here. The Surface Studio and Surface Book 2 will be available for pre-order, and retail availability for both will be from 15 March 2018. At the moment, only the Surface Pro and Surface Laptop are available in the Singapore market from the Microsoft Store online and authorised retailers.

Although the company is considered a latecomer to the retail scene in Singapore, this new development is moving the company to the right direction for capturing customer sentiments. The opening of Microsoft’s Surface store follows Apple’s move last year, when it launched its Orchard Road outlet.

(Source: Microsoft, Vulcan Post)

Facebook Launches Online Marketplace Platform In Singapore

RETAIL / FMCG - Singapore
February 2018

Social media giant Facebook has recently launched in Singapore the Marketplace, its consumer-to-consumer (C2C) platform for buying and selling used items. Similar to a local provider Carousell, Facebook’s new Marketplace feature allows users to list and browse items for sale and filter results by location, price and categories, such as furniture, electronics and apparel. Buyers and sellers communicate through the messaging function to make offers and work out transaction details, as Facebook does not facilitate the payment or delivery of items. 

First launched in the US in 2016, Marketplace evolved from Facebook groups that users set up for trading second-hand goods. It is now live in 47 countries other than Singapore, mainly in North America and Europe, and is restricted to users aged 18 and above. Singapore, which has four million monthly Facebook users, is the third Asian country to launch the service after Thailand and India.

The likely addition of retailers and business pages to Marketplace can make it a threat to e-commerce giants, such as Amazon and Lazada. Facebook’s extensive experience giving advertisers the ability to target very narrowly defined customer segments might make it the platform of choice for many retailers and service providers. Additionally, its huge advantage is the existing community of users who spend a lot of their online time on the platform.

(Sources: The Straits Times)

Don Don Donki Is Set To Compete With Miniso & Daiso For Discount Market

RETAIL / FMCG - Singapore
January 2018

The Japanese discount store Don Quijote, known as Don Don Donki, is set to increase competition over Singaporean discount market after opening the doors of its very first store in Asia outside of Japan. Opened in early December of 2017, the retailer will be competing against established market players, such as Daiso and Miniso, which have entered the market in 2002 and 2015, respectively.

According to Miniso’s Director, Alex Zhang, Don Don Donki may not engage in direct head-to-head competition due to its work in different retail category, however, it will undoubtedly make the discount market space tighter.

One of its main competitors, Daiso, with its 15 stores across the island, is known for its standard SGD 2 (USD 1.52) price tag across all items, and sells a wide assortment of about 70,000 household items, from ceramic tableware to pet clothes and chair socks. Miniso, the Japanese lifestyle and fast-fashion brand, has 27 stores and sells merchandise, such as homeware, bags and electronics at low price. Don Don Donki, on the other hand, enters the market with its store selling almost anything one can think of – from fresh produce and household grocery items to cosmetics, exercise equipment and even costumes.

The company is also set to open its second outlet in Tanjong Pagar in mid-June 2018, and has plans to expand further into Asia, with a store opening in Thailand in December 2018.

(Sources: Channel News Asia; The Straits Times)

Japan's Largest Discount Store Comes To Singapore

RETAIL / FMCG - Singapore
December 2017

The highly anticipated Japanese discount store Don Quijote will be opening in Singapore in December 2017, with the name Don Don Donki. Don Quijote – also known as “Donki” in Japan – is largely known for its wide range of products at affordable prices, as well as its long operating hours. It’s flagship store in Singapore will be located at Orchard Central and will boast an eclectic mix of product offerings that are all designed and made in Japan. It will also house a dine-in area, a drinks bar and food stalls by vendors from Hokkaido.

Don Quijote has grown into a general retailing group with 350 stores, the cumulative number of customers reaching 300 million a year and annual consolidated sales topping 800 billion yen (USD 7.4 billion) in Japan. It sells everything from gorilla gag masks to artisanal cheeses to second-hand Chanel bags. Outside of Japan, it has only three stores in Hawaii. This is its first foray into South East Asia. According to the company, the Singapore store will also be a development center for its growth strategies in South East Asia. Pan Pacific International Holdings is the Singapore-based holding company for the group's overseas operations.

(Sources: Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore; The Straits Times)

Japan's Lumine Opens Its First Overseas Store In Singapore

RETAIL / FMCG - Singapore
November 2017

Japanese fashion mall Lumine will open its first overseas operation in Singapore in November 2017. Lumine will bring its fashion and retail experience from Japan to Singapore, a global city and one of the most multi-cultural places in South East Asia. The 10,000 sq ft store, which will offer more than 20 Japanese brands such as Tomorrowland, Iena, Fray I.D. and Spick & Span, will be operated by Lumine Singapore Pte Ltd, a 100% subsidiary of the Japanese entity.

Lumine Singapore will open within a retail facility located in Clarke Quay, a major tourist area along the Singapore River. Targeting Singaporean career women keen to experience the diverse world of Japanese fashion, it is set to replicate the shopping experience in Lumine’s 16 branches around Japan, including Shinjuku and Ikebukuro in Tokyo.

(Source: Lumine)

Singapore's New Initiatives For Its Retail Industry

RETAIL / FMCG - Singapore
October 2017

The Singapore government is demonstrating its support for local brands in the market by creating new initiatives that are in line with the country's Retail Industry Transformation Map (ITM) that was launched in 2016. The roadmap has been positioned to assist retailers to launch new concepts, redesign jobs and maximize the use of technology to expand internationally. Some of the key concepts of the new initiatives include the following:

  • A “Design Incubator” located along the main shopping belt, Orchard Road, is due to open by end of 2018. This will be operated by local retail group Naiise

  • Spring Singapore, the country's economic development agency, will work with department stores to feature local and regional designers to help create a launch pad for local brands, as well as create market access locally and overseas

  • A Retail Centre of Excellence (RCoE) will be launched in November 2017 at Singapore Management University's Lee Kong Chian School of Business to help retailers deal with current dynamic retail challenges

  • The launch of the Local Enterprise and Association Development Plus (LEAD+) program to help the retail industry boost productivity, business growth, and competitiveness, which also includes an overseas study mission trip to the U.S. and incentives and subsidies for the adoption of digital solutions

(Sources: ChannelNewsAsia; The New Paper; The Straits Times)

CapitaLand Marks Strategic Collaboration With Alibaba and Lazada

RETAIL / FMCG - Singapore
September 2017

CapitaLand, one of Asia's largest real estate companies which is headquartered and listed in Singapore, will collaborate with two of Asia's key e-commerce players, Alibaba and Lazada. CapitaLand is an owner and manager of a global portfolio worth more than S$80 billion as at 30 June 2017, comprising integrated developments, shopping malls, serviced residences, offices, homes, real estate investment trusts (REITs) and funds. It is present across more than 150 cities in over 30 countries.

CapitaLand has signed an agreement to manage Alibaba's new headquarters in Shanghai, consisting of four office towers and a retail podium, to "reinvent modern retail through the seamless integration of offline and online (O&O) channels".

It also signed an agreement with Lazada Singapore, part of Lazada Group, Southeast Asia’s largest e-commerce platform. As part of the agreement, it will launch a shop-in-shop aggregating the offerings of retailers in its Singapore malls on Lazada.SG by the end of 2017. Shoppers who patronise the CapitaLand official store on Lazada.SG will have the option to collect their purchases in CapitaLand malls. CapitaLand malls, namely Plaza Singapura and Bugis+ will have two unmanned click-and-collect lounges for shoppers to collect and return their purchases. In addition to collection services, the lounges will feature fitting rooms and product-testing bench to further enhance overall shopping with Lazada Singapore.

(Source: CapitaLand)

Amazon Enters Southeast Asia Market With “Prime Now” Service

RETAIL / FMCG - Singapore
August 2017

E-commerce giant Amazon has launched its Prime Now service in Singapore, setting the online retailing giant’s first presence in the South East Asia region. The Amazon Prime Now service, which highlights a two-hour delivery service (while also offering a same-day and two-day delivery options) was introduced in July and is on a gradual roll out across Singapore, except in the remote islands of the city-state.

The fast-delivery service is available in mobile apps downloadable on Android's Google Play platform and Apple's iTunes. At the moment, shoppers can use the service without membership requirement for a limited time before Amazon rolls out its Prime membership program.

Amazon's Prime Now service now poses a competition to Singapore's existing retail market. According to Euromonitor International, internet retailing in Singapore continued to register strong growth in current value terms in 2016, rising by 33%, making it the most dynamic retail channel in the country as generated value sales of SGD 1.5 billion (USD 1.1 billion)

(Source: Amazon Prime, Euromonitor International, Channel News Asia, Bloomberg)

Retail Robots in Singapore

RETAIL / FMCG - Singapore
July 2017

A Retail Robot was launched in May 2017 by Singapore consumer electronics retailer Newstead Technologies. The robots can talk, guide shoppers and receive credit card payments. It is understood to be the first retail robot in Asia which is able to receive payments by credit card. Each robot can run for about eight hours on a four-hour charge. It will also be able to return to its charging point as often as it needs. The robot was manufactured by Taiwanese tech firm New Kinpo Group. The idea was conceived three years ago to help cope with manpower shortages and the company invested USD 5 million to develop it.

(Source: Today Online, The Straits Times)

Singapore’s Retail On The Rise For The Second Consecutive Month

RETAIL / FMCG - Singapore
June 2017

Retails sales increases by 2.6% in April, contributed by a 14.3% year-to-year growth for the watches and jewellery sectors. The increase is further boosted by strong sales in the petrol service stations segment. This has been Singapore’s second consecutive month increase for the retail sector since its first increase in March. 

(Source: Singapore Department of Statistics, Singapore Business Review)

Apple’s First Singapore Retail Location Officially Set to Open on May 27

RETAIL / FMCG - Singapore
May 2017

The store is Apple’s first in Singapore and is set to open May 27th, a week from this Saturday, at 10AM, according to a new report from The Straits Times. The report notes that Apple Store employees were seen changing the banner on the front of the store to reflect the new opening date, seen in the image below, while employees also confirmed operating hours for the location. The Singapore retail location officially referred to as Apple Orchard Road, will be open from 10AM to 10PM every day.

Apple’s first Singapore retail location has been in the making for almost two years now, with the company originally announcing its plans back in 2015. It wasn’t until just recently, however, that the location of the store was officially confirmed.

Apple will introduce the company’s new ‘Apple ‘initiative apps. This will publish information on the store offer a greater focus on free workshops and creative help with so-called ‘Creative Pros’ to lead these efforts. The Orchard Road location will be powered entirely by solar energy, making Apple the first company in Singapore to power all operations by solar energy.

Currently Apple is planning for a new store in Mexico, located in the city of San Luis Potosi. The company continues to expand its presence around the world and to update its older stores with a new design and new amenities.

(Source: The Business News, The Straits Times)

Starbucks Reserve Opens 10th Singapore Store in Changi Airport

RETAIL / FMCG - Singapore
April 2017

Starbucks has opened its 10th Reserve café in Singapore located inside Singapore’s Changi airport, the 24-hour airport outlet has opened in T3’s public area, in the United Square section. While patrons will be familiar with Starbucks, Starbucks Reserve is the coffee chain’s more high-end version of a café or coffee bar. Annually Starbucks coffee buyer’s travels to coffee growing regions to find and purchase some of the world’s finest Arabica coffee beans. Starbucks Reserve then offers these to its customers, which are in limited quantity and only available at select Starbucks Reserve stores and online.

While there are several other Reserve outlets in Singapores, the Changi store is the first to feature the interactive Coffee Bar, along with the Black Eagle espresso, and the Nitro Cold Brew, which is served from the tap but reserve customers can still order normal Starbucks coffee as seen available at the regular stores. On last financial quarter ending January 26, Starbucks reported revenues of US$5.7 billion, up 6.7% on a year-over-year basis.

(Sources: Today Online, Channel NewsAsia)

At Least 5% of SGX Mainboard IPOs To Be Set Aside for Retail Investors

RETAIL / FMCG - Singapore
March 2017

From May 2 onwards, all companies aiming to list on the Singapore Exchange’s (SGX) mainboard will have to set aside at least 5% of their stock offering or SGD 50 million (USD 35.7 million), whichever is lower for retail investors. The new regulation is aimed at having greater retail participation in Singapore’s equities market. Retail investors are important participants in the Singapore markets and this will encourage the retails to invest in equity.

This initiative provides individuals, especially newcomers, with more choice when considering ways to diversify their savings and SGX received formal feedback from 20 respondents via the public consultation which ended in March. Informal engagements with stakeholders were also held to gather feedback.

(Source: Channel NewsAsia)

Singapore Online Grocery Market to Grow by More than Triple in 2020

RETAIL / FMCG - Singapore
February 2017

By the year 2020, the market is set to grow more than triple, from SGD 130 million (USD 91.5 million) to SGD 500 million (USD 351.9 million). According to IGD, online grocery has a 1.2% share of the Singaporean grocery market. The firm forecast online to take a 4% share of Singapore's grocery market by 2020, with a compound annual growth rate of 39%.

Singapore is hailing a new era of digital grocery retailing, driven by the entry of Red Mart in 2011, Giant and Sheng Siong launching online grocery in 2013 and plenty of smaller start-up businesses also looking to grab a slice of the action and retailers will be aiming to make delivery options as convenient as possible, whether through shorter time span delivery slots or greater choice of click and collect points throughout the region.

UK data shows that 80% of shoppers cite convenience as their number-one reason for shopping online, and  would anticipate Singaporean shoppers to have a very similar mindset when heading online for their online grocery retailers in the region are expected to encourage shopper loyalty through personalized offers and products, plus subscription models and delivery saver passes.

Shoppers in the region are increasingly connected via mobile, so ensuring a seamless shopping experience no matter what device they are using will be critical. Coupled with an increased focus on using innovations such as voice-activated technology, virtual reality and robotics has opportunities for those retailers and suppliers who really invest in making the online grocery channel work in Singapore.

(Sources: The Business Times, Singapore Business Review)

Valiram Eyeing Further Expansion in 2017

RETAIL / FMCG - Singapore
January 2017

Retail and lifestyle group Valiram based in Malaysia plans to scale up its network this year, leveraging on its core brands to fuel growth across the region. In Singapore, the Valiram Group opened a Michael Kors store and a flagship Victoria's Secret store at Mandarin Gallery mall in the second half of 2016, securing long-term leases of seven years and 10 years respectively, according to a report. At the same time, it is realigning its network, letting certain stores close as leases expire. For instance, a Michael Kors store at Scotts Road and a Victoria's Secret at Ion Orchard - both of which are near Mandarin Gallery - have been closed.

The retail group has a total of 55 stores in Singapore, including Tumi, Bath & Body Works, Kate Spade, Chopard and Rolex. Aside from retail malls such as Vivocity and JEM at Jurong East, it also has boutiques at Changi Airport's three terminals and will open at Terminal 4 in the second half of 2017. Valiram believes that despite a tough retail operating environment in Singapore, brands which can deliver good value and creative concepts or products will succeed.

Retailers in the country face headwinds on multiple fronts, including high operating costs, a tight labor market and a strong Singapore dollar, not to mention the growing popularity of online shopping. Supply will also be added to the market in 2017 as new malls development on stream. According to the latest figures from the Urban Redevelopment Authority, retail vacancy rates have risen from 7.8 % in the second quarter of 2016 to 8.4% in the third quarter of 2016.

(Sources: Channel News Asia, Vulcanpost)

Retail Sales up 2.2% in October, Mostly Due to Vehicle Sales

RETAIL / FMCG - Singapore
December 2016

Retail sales in Singapore increased 2.2% in October from the previous year, according to figures released by the Department of Statistics (Singstat), excluding motor vehicles, total retail sales were 0.3% lower than October last year. On a month-on-month basis, retail sales rose 1.7% excluding motor vehicles, it increased 1.5%. The total retail sales value in October was estimated at SGD 3.7 billion (USD 2.6 billion), higher than the SGD 3.6 billion (USD 2.5 billion) in October 2015. Retailers of motor vehicles recorded a sales increase of 14.5% from the previous year, the largest out of all the sectors. Supermarkets, department stores, medical goods and toiletries, petrol service stations, recreational goods, food and beverages as well as watches and jewellery saw more moderate growth, with sales rising between 0.3% and 5.6%.

Telecommunications and computers equipment continued to see the largest fall in sales across the sectors, dropping 8.1% from the previous year and the other sectors that suffered included wearing apparel and footwear, furniture and household equipment, as well as optical goods and books meanwhile sales for these sectors dipped by between 1.8% and 3.5%. Sales of food and beverage services also increased 0.8 % compared to the previous year but it recorded a 3.2% decline from the previous month. The total sales value in this sector was estimated at SGD 689 million (USD 481.3 million), higher than the SGD 683 million (USD 477.1 million) in October 2015 according to Singstat.

(Source: Singapore Business Review, The Straits Times)

Amazon Plans To Enter South East Asia With Singapore Launch In Q1 2017

RETAIL / FMCG - Singapore
November 2016

Amazon is prepared to expand its presence in Asia. Months after it pumped USD 3 billion into its India enterprise and a week after it quietly delivered its top service in China, plans for its entry into South East Asia in the next 12 months have surfaced. The U.S. retail giant doesn’t presently offer services in South East Asia; however it is working on its entry into the region via a presence in Singapore.

The U.S. company is likely to initially offer its Prime delivery service alongside its AmazonFresh grocery service in Singapore. Earlier this year, Amazon made an offer to acquire Redmart, a grocery delivery startup in Singapore but the bid was deemed too low and rejected. South East Asia is home to over 600 million consumers and, while online is estimated to account for less than 5% of all commerce today, its digital economy is tipped to grow significantly over the next decade.

(Sources: Tech Crunch, Tech Wire Asia)

Singapore’s Mall Vacancies Jump to Highest Level in a Decade

RETAIL / FMCG - Singapore
October 2016

Singapore mall vacancies rose to the highest level in a decade in the third quarter as an oversupply of shop spaces added to muted spending by shoppers. A gauge of mall vacancies rose 0.6 percent to 8.4 percent in the three months ended Sept. 30, even as rents declined 1.5 percent in the quarter, data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority showed.

Demand for shopping space is being dented as consumers rein in spending amid slowing growth and buyers increasingly turn to shopping online. That’s converging with a rising supply of mall space, which threatens to further squeeze rents. Singapore will add almost 4 million sq ft of retail space over the next three years, according to data from Cushman & Wakefield.

(Sources: Bloomberg, The Straits Times

Singapore Unveils Roadmap to Revive the Retail Industry

RETAIL / FMCG - Singapore
September 2016

Singapore is successively rolling out gameplans to breathe new life into its slowing economy. Following the release of the food services roadmap, the city-state announced a Retail Industry Transformation Map (ITM) that is aimed at spurring highly productive retailers and local brand owners with global footprints backed by a professional and skilled workforce.

According to Spring Singapore, the launch of the Retail ITM took into consideration the challenges of the industry in the Lion City. This include fewer business travellers, lower spending per individual, and consumer shifts from brick-and-mortar to e-commerce. Many local consumers have also turned to foreign e-commerce sites to find a wider variety of goods at much lower prices compared to traditional shops. Aside from optimising productivity, the ITM also aims to focus on innovation and the adoption of new technologies to drive competitiveness. It will also work on the industry’s flexibility to adapt to evolving trends in jobs and skills. Strong industry partnerships and internationalisation likewise are key elements in pushing the industry’s transformation.

Retail is an important industry in Singapore with about 21,000 retail establishments contributing almost 1.4% to GDP and employs approximately 3% of the total workforce. It encompasses a wide range of sub-sectors, including supermarkets and convenience stores, fashion and sporting goods, consumer electronics, department stores, jewellery & timepieces and furniture and household products.

(Sources: Singapore Business News, Channel NewsAsia)