The Role of Multi-Channel Retailing in the Spa and Wellness Industry in Singapore
Multi-channel retailing in Singapore’s service retail industry has seen rapid growth in recent years as many service retailers in Singapore realised its importance in reaching out to wider customer segments to provide a better customer experience. According to Berman and Evans (2007), multi-channel retailing is a set of activities involved in selling products and services through multiple retail formats, whether it is store-based or non-store based. It allows consumers to shop conveniently through a variety of channels such as stores, catalogues, websites, kiosks, and even through our mobile smart phones. Zentes, Morschett and Schramm-Klein (2007) define multi-channel retailers as those who combine several retail formats, such as bricks-and-mortar stores, traditional and online catalogues, Internet retailing, telemarketing and direct selling. Zhang et al. (2010) concurs and adds that multi-channel retailers are those whose primary source of revenue is retailing activities. The adoption of multi-channel retailing brings about a win-win situation for both retailers and consumers. Retailers use multi-channel strategy to take advantage of the unique characteristics and benefits of each different channel to craft an integrated multi-channel retailing strategy, which will help them to expand their customer base and increase revenue at the same time. Consumers also benefit by being able to use a variety of channels in their shopping experience, enabling them to research their purchases and make informed choices before committing to buying. Mcgoldrick and Collins (2007) describe this as ‘multichannel shopping’.
Multi-channel retailing in Singapore’s spa and wellness industry The growing spa and wellness industry in Singapore has brought about the formation of Spa & Wellness Association Singapore (SWAS). The association actively promotes the integration between the spa and beauty industry and the wellness market. It integrates all who have a keen interest in this industry to represent total health and wellbeing (Spa & Wellness Association 2005). In Singapore, we have seen the spa industry boom in 2007 and then watched its decline in 2009 as consumers begin to lose confidence in the industry because many spas closed down and left customers dangling with their unfinished packages. As competition is tough and consumers start to regain their confidence in the industry, it is of utmost importance for spa retailers to look into multi-channel retail strategies to remain competitive. Although moving towards multi-channel retailing requires a lot more resources than sticking to single-channel retailing, many retailers are doing so because there are many advantages involved. Berman and Thelen (2004) highlighted that some key reasons why retailers move towards multi-channel retailing are to expand their market presence, leverage skills and assets to increase revenues and profits, overcome limitations of existing formats and increase customer share of wallet. Some limitations of existing retail formats are store size, flexibility in pricing, information-provision modes (Berman and Thelen 2004). Berman and Evans (2007) agree that there are advantages to the multi-channel approach; however, it is important to have a well-integrated multi-channel strategy that links all the channels to each other. Commonality in description and consistency in appearance and style is also essential for each channel so that retailers are able to build up a strong and holistic brand image instead of confusing consumers. Dholakia, Zhao, and Dholakia (2005) have reported that trends in consumer behaviour suggest that multi-channel shoppers make up a significant portion of the total customer base and spend more than single-channel buyers. Ganesh (2004) reported a survey finding by Shop.org and The Boston Consulting Group that the multi-channel customer – the...
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