Retail event GSS: Experience Singapore is about way more than just buying stuff.
The event’s leadership affirmed as much in the opening days of the event once titled “The Great Singapore Sale.” Among the representatives from Singapore’s retailing groups and public officials on hand to inaugurate GSS: Experience Singapore—the five-week shopping showcase along the Orchard Road and adjacent areas—was Omar Alattas of One Kampong Glam, the business association representing the historic neighborhood partnering with the retail event.
The legacy community is one of the numerous organizations partnering with GSS: Experience Singapore for the event. The GSS: Experience Singapore uses its the retail experience as a platform upon which to provide a multi-event experience that includes unique art displays, dining experiences and showcases of Singapore’s cultural heritage, like the historic Kampong Glam neighborhood, a trendy area that’s home to the city’s Malay community.
Answering a question about the GSS: Experience Singapore’s role in an increasingly digitally centered retail experience, Alattas said GSS: Experience Singapore makes a case for the continued role of in-person shopping.
Visiting the event, “[y]ou’re … no longer just buying. You are creating value through your experiences,” he said.
Whereas digital retail seems centered around expediency—find it, then buy it—Alattas said that the process forgoes the pleasures of shopping itself. Alattas said that the shopping experience itself is a thing worth closer study.
It’s a thing lost between the click and the acquisition. The speed of the internet reduces this space—of looking for something and buying it—to almost zero as a matter of convenience as if the other parts are distraction.
What’s lost are the rather enrichments on the value of the product, things that these often come as serendipitous, unexpected parts of the shopping experience, like going out on Orchard Road on an afternoon and bumping in to a Singaporean ice cream sandwich vendor or seeing live music like those included as part of GSS: Experience Singapore.
“We provide an array of experiences to engage with,” Alattas said. “And that’s key.”
The GSS: Experience Singapore is a showcase for both Singapore’s goods and those who’ve crafted them, like Italian designers Eleonora Massaccesi and Emiliana Scarpino who presented their line of modular furniture at Robinsons The Hereen. They were part of a group of designers who showed local designs at the GSS: Experience Singapore’s interior furnishing exhibition The Great Furniture Showcase.
The GSS: Experience Singapore is best understood as not a rebuke on technology’s influence in the way we shop, but a recontextualization of it and a reimagining of the partnership between traditional and digital retail. Inside retailer collective Orchard Road, customers can bring shoes, pants and any other candidates for purchase up to a special interactive mirror that give the price of the goods and specific product information. At the neighboring Under Armor store, shoppers can see products in motion with animatronic, human-like mannequins that show the wearable products as they’d be seen on moving bodies.
The flourishes are missed for online retailers.
“Brick and mortar retail is here to stay,” Rose Tong, executive director at Singapore Retailers Association and an organizer with the retail event, said. “It’s really to bring back the joy of shopping.”