Empty streets – a sight you would not have imagined in this small and bustling city.
Yet, due to COVID-19, many physical retail shops had to cease operations with the decline in footfall and the regulations in place.
36-year-old retailer, All Watches Pte Ltd, had to rethink its strategy to cope with rapid changes amidst the pandemic.
Customer service goes digital
Providing good customer service is one of the most fundamental aspects of the brick and mortar line of business.
But when Circuit Breaker happened – retailers were not able to provide customer service in the traditional sense of the word.
Edna Ng, General Manager of All Watches Pte Ltd explains, “During the Circuit Breaker period, we had to transform the way we do our business. We engaged all our staff and gave them mini-projects to work on.”
These include familiarising with new operational protocols, new Customer Experience guidelines, and taking a multichannel approach to sales training.
They also considered how the retail landscape had evolved over years, to devise a strategy for how customer service could be better improved particularly during this difficult period.
For instance, All Watches and their employees brainstormed new business strategies to provide good customer service both offline and online.
44-year-old April Peck was one of All Watches’ newer employees who had to adapt quickly to the new normal. She led a new project to engage customers through virtual events.
Venturing into a new area of work
April had made the move to the frontline retail sector just shortly before COVID-19 hit.
She had previously been working in the backend logistics and wholesale functions of retail, but she was keen to gain new skillsets and try out other aspects of work in the sector.
While she was in the retail sector, it was a major mid-career switch that April had to adjust quickly to.
Despite the steep learning curve, April’s interest in expanding her skillsets and learning front-of-house operations kept her motivated during these difficult times.
To help April assimilate into her new role as a retail operations manager, she was placed in Workforce Singapore’s Professional Conversion Programme for Retail Professionals in March 2020.
The course offered her a better understanding and deeper knowledge of the retail sector and equipped her with valuable skills such as service leadership, multichannel retailing and sales target management.
Putting her new skills into work
Her new skills came in handy when Circuit Breaker hit.
Prior to that, All Watches would conduct roadshows to launch novelty products. However, when the Circuit Breaker happened, the company could only do marketing through EDM (Electronic Direct Mail) or social media posts.
But April and her colleagues pushed themselves further. They aimed to make marketing impactful online, so they decided to make the retail experience more interactive for customers through conducting virtual events.
“By conducting a virtual event, not only will our customers get to see new products at the comfort of their home, they can also chat with us, and ask questions as we have breakout rooms for smaller groups,” April says.
Indeed, April’s positive learning attitude resonated with what All Watches was looking for in an employee – being able to understand and master the art of communication and understanding customers’ behaviour.
Growth potential in e-commerce
As retailers adapt to the impact of COVID-19, they also need to innovate new products and offerings, and develop a workforce with the right skillsets.
Besides career conversion programmes, those without necessary skills but want to join the retail sector can also participate in company-hosted traineeships and attachments under the SGUnited Traineeships Programme and SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme.
Between April and September 2020, 770 individuals have been placed into jobs, enhanced roles, company-hosted traineeships and attachments as well as training opportunities in the retail sector.
For those who are keen to enter the sector, April has this advice, “Being in the retail business is more than just a sales transaction. Do not limit your communication or sales ability because being a part of the retail team is not just a job.
customers, engage with them. This will boost your communication skills and
strengthen your integrity as an individual – this is the most rewarding part of
More information: go.gov.sg/12octretail