21 September 2019
Minions fans may be able to shake hands and take photos with their favorite characters if they visit MOKO this month. Photo: SHK Properties
Minions fans may be able to shake hands and take photos with their favorite characters if they visit MOKO this month. Photo: SHK Properties

How brick-and-mortar retailers can beat their e-rivals

From department stores to shopping malls, retailers are losing business to internet shopping sites like never before.

But these traditional vendors are far from throwing in the towel. They are in fact coming up with new tactics to win business back, some with notable success.

Last year, Shin Kong Mitsukoshi, Taiwan’s leading department store, attracted a record 120 million visitors, and the growth continues this year.

The trick is to give people a compelling reason to come to the shop.

Shin Kong Mitsukoshi has invited a drama group to perform regularly at the department store in Taipei’s Xinyi district.

“Shopping, yes, you can do it on the internet. But to appreciate drama, you have to come in person. Once customers are here, very likely they will also visit our restaurants or do some shopping,” a manager told Wealth Magazine.

For the same purpose, Shin Kong Mitsukoshi also hosts a variety of exhibitions. The company is planning to introduce other cultural, musical and art activities as well.

In its Tainan shop, pop-up shops accounted for 30 percent of the tenant mix, an approach designed to match youngsters’ ever-changing taste.

“Youngsters always love new stuff. If they don’t come this month, the pop-up shop may no longer be there,” the manager explained.

In some sectors, e-shopping’s growth is hard to prevent.

Five years ago, fashion made up about a fifth of total sales of Taipei department stores. Last year, the category’s share shrank to 12 percent.

Hence, Shin Kong Mitsukoshi switched its focus to eateries, again something you cannot do on the screen.

“We look for popular small restaurants and ask them to set up shop in our department stores. They attract many family customers during weekends. On weekdays, they bring in lots of office workers coming for lunch,” a Xinyi branch manager observed.

The Xinyi outlet even houses a bar.

Going by the same logic, Hong Kong’s MOKO mall is also trying to attract traffic by offering interactive experience which is impossible in cyberspace.

Take movies, for example. Apart from providing the only IMAX facility in the district, the mall surprises audiences with sideshows. (In July, the main theme is Minions.) Viewers will also be able to meet movie directors and vote for their best movie.

Pretty much like the thinking of Taiwan’s Shin Kong Mitsukoshi, MOKO is also boosting its food offerings by introducing foreign brands such as Smile Cafe and Urban Cafe Commune. Both opened their first Hong Kong shops at the mall.

MOKO is also trying to use internet to its advantage. For example, customers can purchase cosmetic products online for a discount, but they have to come pick them up at the mall. Once shoppers are in the mall, there is a good chance they will do some extra spending.

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EJ Insight writer