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"Reinventing The Mall Through Crisis: 2021 Recap" | Episode 13

As we step into 2022, we look back at our past episodes and draw out the nuggets of insights from our esteemed guests, compiling them into one special summary episode. This collection features the most memorable quotes from these guests, which combined offer a picture of the retail landscape in 2021 as a whole, as well as emerging retail trends to watch in 2022.

The Future of Retail Asia, now streaming on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts. View the video and full transcript below. Enjoy!

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IMRAN: Hey guys, welcome back to a special episode of The Future of Retail Asia. My name is Imran.

JUN: And I am Jun! In 2021, we've all gone through amazing stuff. One thing that definitely stands out for us is embarking on this podcast journey. We’ve talked to many different people, of different backgrounds, all with tons of experience in the retail industry. And we learnt a few things!

IMRAN: In our first 12 episodes we've heard about the importance of putting the consumers at the center of the retail ecosystem.

HOEY THEEN: It’s all about the customers. We all are in business because of the customers. So the first thing we want to do is to understand our customers.

MING YAN: And for the landlord to be able to do that, they really need to understand who their customers are. And I mean, a loyalty programme like CapitaStar will allow the landlord to better understand the profile of the customers that are going into the mall, and with that, they can actually share that information with the retailers. So the whole idea is to share that information and the insights with the retailers and to help the retailers better understand the catchment.

STEPHEN: The only one objective is to put your customer in the heart of business, but for you to do that, you have to go down to the ground and understand your customer further. Without meeting the customer, I think mobile is the best channel to really appreciate the customer journey that we have today.

ETHAN: In general, most retailers will need to know exactly what their customer profile looks like. So they will usually do a first take, let’s analyse what our target audience is, what our current audience is, and where is that gap in order for us to bridge it so that we can actually target effectively who we want to reach out to. So data points about consumers is going to be number one, the top most, because if you don’t know who your customers are, it’s very hard for you to know what they want.

HOEY THEEN: We collect a lot of information about ourselves from the consumers, and what people say about us. And we have been engaging these customers, these are not even directly inside the mall, but they are tweeting or putting up a posting that they mentioned something about the mall. And we can intercept and engage the customer at that point. That in a way for us, the customer experience begins, from the moment they think about shopping, they think about coming to the mall.

JUN: We also learnt that the customer experience and shopping journey will be growing to encompass omni-channel strategies with more focus on the experiential side of things.

APRIL: There is also a lot of talk about the customer journey. When they go to the mall, where did they come from? Are they coming from a workplace? Are they coming from their homes? Or how often do they come back, they journey time, they dwell time. All these things are a little bit of data that people keep talking about.

HOEY THEEN: With the millions of customers that walk through the malls each month, we want to ensure that their experience is good. So that is where we look at personalisation. We only serve you information that is relevant to you.

PRANTIK: A lesson to be learnt from the digital world is maybe there is an opportunity to reframe that into a subscription recurring avenue business. Transaction should be a byproduct. More than just money, it is the engagement model.How can I figure out entertainment and education or edutainment opportunities to draw crowds to create the recurring model. To create that pull.

JERRY: And offline, you have one biggest advantage. Experience. Online cannot give you that physical feeling. That ambience. It is not able to give you. So make full use of it. Don’t just become like an online shop. “This is my platform, I just display it.” You want it, you take it. Might as well go online and buy.

DOMINIC: Why don’t we think about, for example you mentioned e-commerce. What would Amazon do if Amazon staff were to run this mall? Chances are they would probably with your data, people who ate at this restaurant also considered eating at this restaurant. Then when you actually push information like that on to a customer’s journey.

FAIRUZ: Now, seeing how the industry has evolved, ever since the pandemic started. It’s to focus on experiencing different things, or rather have a mix of different solutions to reach out to your customer base.

IMRAN: And of course, the importance of automation, data and using them to better every aspect of our businesses.

IVAN: I think in this day and age, everybody can say that data is important. But beyond that, it is very hard for people to answer why is it important. Because alot of people get into this data journey, this game of data, without understanding the type of questions they want to answer. Just to bring everything back to basics, for data analytics to be meaningful to any business, you have to first understand what you want to achieve with this data. You need to understand what kind of questions you want answered. What kind of problems you want solved. With that, you can better strategise how you want to collect the data. First and foremost, you have to look at what are the objectives. And then you can start to form this strategy on where do I get this data, is this data clean, how do I clean the data. How do we manipulate the data, and so on and so forth. But first, we have to understand what we want to do with the data.

STEPHEN: There is no other best answer to think about retail automation, to think about retail transformations, to think about the omni-channel to shape the entire customer behaviour. The era of online is already there, and will continue staying with us. So what is your strategy?

MING YAN: I think it's very important that when we make decisions, we make decisions based on data. This is what we call a data driven approach to decision making. if businesses are affected for example by COVID, you want to know that to what extent has been affected and to what extent landlords will be able to step in to help, and even to some extent, for the government to think about how they can support some of these businesses to tide over a very unusual situation. So these are the kinds of information that we are looking at to allow both parties to base their discussions and negotiations on the reality on the ground rather than based on perceptions of individuals or on anecdotal evidence.

MADALENE: I think malls are a little bit more, to be frank, more traditional. Or probably they are more conservative. They worry that we have this data, we share it with somebody else. I think that is their reservation. But I think they forgot that part of the world, these days, everybody's bottom line is to get traffic, get sales, and currently now the malls are quiet. So we need to have that. And also one thing is that with the right target information, then we are able to give them new experience.

FAIRUZ: The key is simplicity. What we need to do is that we have to introduce them to the simple digital solutions first, the low hanging fruits like digital payments, rather than getting them to start off with something very huge. From there, they will start to be open to other bigger tech solutions, or technology.

JUN: Actually, you know what, 2021 has been amazing for us. The key win we want to share is actually still ongoing! In partnership with M2Cash, we launched the first ever digital Christmas Raffle in the Philippines with Rockwell’s Power Plant Mall. Mall-wide lucky draw - no more keeping receipts, no more customer service queues, and a huge uptake in mall app downloads and daily usage. We’re only halfway through the campaign, stay tuned to hear the results in a couple of months when we release the full case study!

IMRAN: Yes! This year - we took part in the China-ASEAN New Smart City Competition. The competition was broadcast to millions of viewers in the region, and Aimazing came out as the first runner up in the competition - and in talks with local players now.

JUN: We also appointed Lim Ming Yan as senior advisor to our company. He has years of experience and a wealth of expertise, being the former Group CEO of CapitaLand. He joins Aimazing as a strategic advisor and of course being our investor and taking us to greater heights.

IMRAN: All the way to the moon! Earlier with the impact of covid we took part in Enterprise Singapore’s Southeast Asian Open Innovation Challenge, where we worked alongside Hong Leong Holdings to provide a smart tenant management system to help them understand their tenants’ sales performance and how to help them.

JUN: Lastly, we would like to thank all of our listeners, you guys out there. Our first episode came out almost half a year ago, and today we are one of FeedSpot’s top 50 Best Retail Podcasts in the world! Thank you for your continuous support and we look forward to doing greater things in the coming year.

IMRAN: Yes, in 2022 there are a few key things that malls & retailers need to look at. It’s time to tear down data silos, eliminate manual processes - whether done by customers, tenants or your team. It’s time to automate and use data insights to scale revenue now. Download our Omnichannel Mall 2022 White Paper at & get started working with us by scheduling a demo!

JUN: Meanwhile we have some amazing upcoming conversations in our next few episodes. We would be having Helen Lam, from LendLease, Chris Fong, from M2Cash Corporation in the Philippines, Keith Chen from Fave Singapore, and many more yet to be announced. All of us here at Aimazing are so excited for the new year - Stay tuned and all the best in 2022!

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Stream The Future of Retail Asia on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts. and find out all you need to know about retail now!


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