BHG Singapore, which runs five department stores, has seen a 17 percent increase in customer basket size and a three-to-five percent increase in purchase conversion rate at its shops after introducing digital elements such as virtual try-on, 'lift-and-learn' and mobile point-of-sale systems.
BHG Singapore’s CFO Jheeva Subramanian, who also heads digital transformation and IT, told iTnews Asia that the increase in conversion rates indicated that the digital elements “have not only simplified the shopper experience by making it more convenient, it has also increased interactivity, translating into an increase in sales”.
The department store was established in 1994 as a joint venture between Japan’s Seiyu Ltd and Hong Kong-based Wing On Pte Ltd.
Initially called Seiyu Wing On Department Store, the company now operates under the BHG brand name and has a total retail space of 220,000 square feet across its five stores.
Apart from the in-shop digital elements, BHG launched its e-commerce platform in June 2020.
Subramanian said that since then, BHG has seen “sales and order numbers increase three-fold between 2020 and 2021” and there has been a 20 percent membership growth via the e-commerce platform.
Despite the growth in the e-commerce platform, the company’s brick-and-mortar shopping experience, in particular at its flagship store at BHG Bugis, “remains our main hub for sales, especially since we have placed greater focus on digitalising the in-store shopping experience”.
Subramanian said the company has been working with MS Media Pte Ltd to develop an “endless aisles” platform that “aims to offer the best of what BHG has to offer across all of our stores, as part of a technology rollout for the business."
“Shoppers will be able to access the full inventory across the stores, irrespective of which store they are in, and this will allow BHG to offer the same flagship product experience to customers irrespective of the store,” Subramanian added.
He said the mobile point-of-sale devices give the option to customers to “make their purchase and check-out at any spot in the store” instead of queuing up at fixed cashier points.
The lift and learn digital element has an interactive screen that provides information when the product is lifted up, “making the shopping experience more interactive”, Subramanian said.
He said these brand-agnostic touchpoints encourage customers to explore the stores and “discover new brands they may not have been engaged with before”.
BHG is also working on a heat maps technology to analyse the most popular areas of their stores so that “customer experience can be improved upon”.
BHG is working with Dynamicweb, using the latter’s cloud-based e-commerce suite to eliminate channel silos by leveraging on one single platform, he said.
With this, BHG will be able to deliver a seamless online shopping experience, Subramanian said.
“The customer can fulfil their order and, if needed, pick up part of the order in one store, another product in another store and get the rest delivered at a time of their choosing; our aim is to allow the customer to shop anyway, anytime and anywhere they want,” he added.
BHG is also looking into incorporating artificial intelligence to enable hyper-personalisation; merging online and offline channels with concepts such as virtual stores; introducing predictive analytics, and building an ecosystem around the concept of a platform-as-a-business model.
“The key to our digitalisation strategy lies in creating a seamless and frictionless shopping experience for our customers both online and offline with consistency in retail choices across all stores including the e-commerce platform,” Subramanian added.
Subramanian said that the company has been clear about taking a “customer-centric approach” to digitalisation.
"While we recognise the successes and effectiveness in digitalisation, we are mindful not to go digital for digital’s sake and we ensure that our offerings do not lack the human touch," he said.
“This is why we are working on incorporating human elements such as an advisory platform on our e-commerce channel to offer real-time consultation and advice to our shoppers while they shop online."