Sim Lim Square goes online with new e-commerce platform amid collective sale

AMID news of Sim Lim Square's collective sale, the IT mall’s management said on Monday it plans to launch a new e-commerce platform for its mall’s tenants. The platform is still in beta testing and will launch on July 1.

The initiative had been in the works for one year and is not in response to the mall’s collective sale, the mall’s management confirmed to The Business Times. It did not comment on the amount invested to create the new marketplace.

The opt-in online initiative is a bid to develop new channels of customer outreach and engagement for Sim Lim Square’s tenants. This saw the mall’s management enlisting the help of local digital agency Addpetizer to construct the new online marketplace.

With the new marketplace, the mall’s tenants will be given full autonomy to run their own e-commerce businesses, similar to how individual vendors run their businesses on online marketplaces such as Lazada, Amazon or Shopee.

A look at the platform’s beta website shows the mall’s tenant stalls being categorised not only by the store name, but also by product category such as computer accessories, desktops, laptops and even repairs.

Currently, there are around 50 tenants on board the new marketplace, with an aim to bring on around 300 tenants who are Sim Lim Square star retailers, out of the total tenant list of 480.

To achieve this, training sessions for all tenants are being conducted to train them on the capabilities of e-commerce and how to manage their online shops.

For older tenants, this means more hands-on training efforts when it comes to shop management, said Sean Chia, head of advertising and promotions at Sim Lim Square.

"Fortunately, many of the older tenants have younger shop assistants who are able to assist and facilitate their transition to this new digital marketplace," Mr Chia said.

In terms of reception, tenants are said to be happy with the initiative. With the boom of e-commerce trends, Mr Chia said the mall’s management had noticed changes to their shoppers' buying behaviour and decided that this was the right time to bring the mall and its tenants digital.

To drive traffic to the online marketplace, the mall’s management plans to advertise more on digital media, radio, television, other media platforms as well as traditional newspaper advertising.

Mr Chia said the mall needs to "constantly evolve" to meet the needs and demands of its digital-savvy customers. “With our new e-commerce website, we are proud to be at the forefront of IT retail,” he added.

Benedict Yeo, managing director of Addpetizer, said that through the new platform, customers would be able to experience gadgets in-mall, and place their orders, or re-orders, online at any time.

"While many may say that e-commerce has rendered physical retail obsolete, we believe that it is instead a valuable capability that malls can develop," Mr Yeo said.