Challenger Stays in the Game With the Next Big Thing: Omnichannel Retailing
Cindy Liew, 16 Oct 17
       

Once considered a threat to brick-and-mortar stores, e-commerce is now becoming a necessary complement.

Retail businesses are trending toward setting up both physical and online stores, allowing customers the choice of shopping online at their convenience, or visiting brick-and-mortar outlets to try out products. This burgeoning concept of providing a seamless, cross-channel shopping experience is called "omnichannel retailing".

The latest testament to the growing omnichannel movement is e-commerce giant Amazon, which recently acquired US supermarket chain Whole Foods. Once the greatest disruptor of physical retailing, Amazon has begun to recognise the value of a physical retail front. Amazon is not only venturing into the traditionally physical model of grocery retail, but aims to transform it with its "click-and-collect" grocery pickup concept.

Back in Singapore, omnichannel retailing has also taken root.


Last year, home-grown IT retail giant Challenger launched its online store Hachi.tech. In April 2017, it further expanded its business and opened a new flagship store at Bugis Junction. Backed by its strong network of brick-and-mortar stores, Challenger’s new omnichannel approach aims to extend its reach and broaden its customers’ shopping experiences.


In an Epoch Times interview, Ms. Loo Pei Fen, Chief Marketing Officer at Challenger, details their omnichannel retail strategy.

Hachi.tech is the e-commerce platform that contributes towards the omnichannel approach of Challenger’s holistic retail strategy. (Courtesy of Challenger)

Epoch Times (ET): How has Hachi.tech been doing so far?

Hachi.tech is the e-commerce platform that contributes towards the omnichannel approach of Challenger’s holistic retail strategy. Since its inception, it has pioneered immediate electronic software delivery as well as catered for in-store pick-up at convenient locations island-wide— this is possible due to its strength as a brick-and-mortar retailer with 40 stores in Singapore.

In addition, its online members enjoy up to 70 percent discounts on 50,000 products online, and exclusive pre-orders on new releases. Its current push is into 3-hour delivery fulfilment in order to get customers’ tech buys into their hands as swiftly as possible.

ET: How does Challenger utilise shopping data from Hachi.tech to customise each consumer’s experience?

Transactional data is used to remind members to top up their gift cards, purchase ink cartridge refills and other recurring transactions. It also allows us to send relevant promotional information to members who are due for an upgrade to a new version of a tech model they had previously purchased from us.

ET: Challenger opened its new flagship store at Bugis Junction last month. With the retail market getting tougher, how has Challenger managed to thrive and expand its business?

We continue to grow in locations that are convenient for our customers, such as in the heartland areas near where they live and play. Our holistic retail strategy is also key to ensuring we reach our customers before they come into the store with a comprehensive online browsing/shopping experience.

ET: How does Challenger create unique in-store experiences for its customers?

Our flagship store at Bugis Junction B1-26 has been designed to let shoppers browse by concept zones instead of by brand or specific product categories. This allows complementary products to be showcased together and customers prefer shopping this way. We are also on the forefront of new lifestyle trends, and our new drone area features a DJI and Parrot experiential zone for customers to browse this must-have product category.

ET: With increasing numbers of shoppers going online, how do you grow customer volume at the physical stores?

Our network of physical stores lets customers pick up their purchases within 3 hours, as well as deal with customer service queries on the spot. We will continue to drive the in-store experiential factor by working with our brand partners to enhance physical product displays.

ET: How do online shoppers compare to physical store shoppers, in terms of shopping behaviour and preferences?

We aim to provide a complete experience on either end of the O2O (online to offline) story: online shoppers can view product specifications and promotions before going to the physical store to check and collect their tech buys. Online shoppers tend to value convenience and saving time, while offline shoppers want to touch and feel products that have higher specifications. For instance, the stunning retina display on an iPad 4 can only be experienced in person and not across a smartphone screen while scrolling through a product page.

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