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Speech by SPS Tan Wu Meng at the GSS Experience Singapore 2019 Official Launch

Speech by SPS Tan Wu Meng at the GSS Experience Singapore 2019 Official Launch

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen


1. For the past 25 years, the Great Singapore Sale, or GSS, has been a key event in the calendar for our retail companies. This afternoon, I am delighted to join you at the launch of the rebranded GSS, themed “GSS: Experience Singapore”.

Our retailers need to be bold in innovating, to be forerunners in the evolving retail industry

2. Retail today is very different from when the GSS was first launched. Back then, it was the first co-ordinated annual sale in Singapore . Most Orchard Road retailers took part: hefty discounts on a wide range of goods throughout the month of the Sale. Back then, the GSS enhanced Singapore’s position as a leading tourist destination in the region and added value for Singaporeans going shopping, through the discounts. 

3. Retail today is different.  Today, e-commerce is all around. Consumers do not need to step foot into a physical store to do shopping. Using internet-enabled devices, transactions can be done online while on-the-go or at home. Goods can be delivered to consumers’ doorsteps. This change is not unique to Singapore. We see it around the world.  And consumers’ needs and expectations are likewise changing too. 

4. So for our retailers, the key is to meet the needs of today’s customers and tomorrow’s customers. To rethink the value proposition. To stay relevant. 

5. Don’t be afraid to innovate.  Be bold, and be ready to test new ideas.  Some parts of retail have gone online.  But experiences are still about the physical world, and physical places.  And there are ways for businesses to create new experiences to bring customers to stores.

6. Technology and design can bring different channels together to create something more.  Or a brick-and-mortar store experience can involve multiple sensory experiences – something which the online world cannot yet provide.

7. Some of our retailers have already done so. For example, local wedding gallery, Fatimah Mohsin, has a 2-storey shophouse at Arab Street which houses two different but complementary concepts – its bridal studio on one level, and a dedicated floor for its curated collection of home and living products. In so doing, Fatimah Mohsin has converted its regular wedding gallery into a retail and lifestyle destination for a larger group of consumers. Retail as lifestyle.  Retail as a place.  And places and lifestyles help bring people together, create buzz, create stories, create customer traffic.

8. Another example is sports brand Under Armour’s 3-D Virtual Reality Experience, which integrates retail technology for an enhanced customer experience and engagement. This is a joint collaboration between Under Armour and Wynist Retail Solutions, and is facilitated by the Singapore Retailers Association (SRA). You can visit the collaboration, as well as many other exciting retail concepts, at the GSS pop-up stores. 

9. Business can also differentiate themselves through developing their own products and branding.  Star International is an example of a local furniture retailer which has developed two distinct furniture brands, JotterGoods and Aarticle, in collaboration with local designers and partners, to cater to different customer segments.   

The Government is committed to supporting our retailers as they innovate and transform

10. The Government is committed to supporting our retailers as they transform. For instance, the Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) supports companies in adopting technology, through pre-scoped solutions to improve productivity. Enterprise Singapore also supports our retailers in their efforts to upgrade, drive innovation and venture overseas. 

11. Additionally, to help businesses test out new designs, the Government has worked with key industry stakeholders to curate incubation spaces for local designers. These include the recently launched Design Orchard and Naiise Iconic spaces, which give local brands and designers greater exposure to both local and overseas consumers. At the same time supporting business growth through capability building, shared facilities and mentorship. As a result of the Design Orchard retail showcase, local brands such as JEWELS by Cheng which are artisanal rock sugar sticks  and Artisan of Sense, handcrafted candles made of eco-friendly wax and wicks  have been featured prominently on the prime Orchard Road shopping belt, thereby increasing their brand visibility and awareness. Other companies like stationery and lifestyle brand The Paper Bunny  and contemporary clothing and accessories brand WANG MENG  have also made use of the co-working spaces and shared facilities at the incubation spaces to create new products and offerings. 

GSS has evolved into a new experience, through collaborations with partners 

12. This year, the GSS is being rebranded as “GSS: Experience Singapore”. This new edition of the GSS is no longer just about sales and discounts. It also focuses on experiences that cannot be replicated online –seamless experiences that combine shopping, dining and entertainment. There is also an emphasis on the Singapore Experience, by showcasing our cultural offerings and local talent. This is in line with our vision to re-imagine Orchard Road as “The Lifestyle Destination”, offering differentiated experiences across each precinct and sub-precinct. And realising this vision requires the collective efforts and imagination of our industry partners.

13. I am therefore happy to hear that the main GSS organiser, the Singapore Retailers Association (SRA), worked with partners such as One Kampong Glam (OKG), Orchard Road Business Association (ORBA), Restaurant Association of Singapore (RAS), Singapore Furniture Industries Council (SFIC) and Textile and Fashion Federation (TAFF), in planning and curating the activities of GSS: Experience Singapore. I am told that this is the first multi-Trade Association and Chamber (TAC) collaboration project in the lifestyle cluster, driven by the common goal of creating a vibrant retail experience incorporating new lifestyle elements such as food, entertainment, design, technology and art. Collaboration has also created events and activities to add buzz and vibrancy to the shopping districts. 

14. I encourage more of our retailers to use the rebranded GSS as a platform to move towards new innovations and new experiences in retail. You can ride on the GSS brand to tell your own brand stories in new ways. At the same time, I encourage more industry partners, such as our TACs, to team up within and across industries. The Government supports such collaboration. Projects spanning multiple TACs can receive funding support through the Local Enterprise and Association Development (LEAD) programme. In this case, the LEAD programme has provided support to the GSS, which led to a larger platform for retailers to innovate and launch new retail concepts. Enhancing the shopping experience for customers, and enhancing teamwork among our stakeholders.


15. Let me conclude by congratulating SRA and your partners on the successful collaboration on the new edition of GSS. With new concepts, new innovative offerings, new experiences, we can keep precincts like Orchard Road at the forefront of tomorrow’s consumer trends.

16. I wish you all an enjoyable afternoon. Thank you.      
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