Orba uses WeChat to engage Chinese

Along with many Singapore retailers, the Orchard Rd Business Association (Orba) is actively engaging mainland Chinese consumers to boost the nation’s flagging retail and tourism sectors.

To promote the shopping street directly, Orba set up a WeChat account two months ago to promote the shopping street directly to consumers in China.

“Without a WeChat account, it’s impossible to communicate with consumers in China,” says Orba executive director Steven Goh.

It also hired a marketing agency in China to devise twice-weekly posts on its WeChat platform to introduce the brands in Orchard Rd. This follows its practice of recent years of regularly sending promotional teams to different cities in China.

Its efforts complement those of the Singapore Retailers Association (SRA), which roped in Chinese payments firm UnionPay International as a partner of its Great Singapore Sale this year. SRA extended the sale to 10 weeks and started it a week later than usual to coincide with most of China’s summer holidays.

Individual retailers are also taking the initiative to cater to the Chinese.

Retail shop Taula Jewellery in Clarke Quay widened its range to include fashion jewellery at lower prices, while department store Takashimaya has been displaying “more prominently” highly discounted products that appeal to Chinese tourists, who make up 30 per cent of its foreign customers.

SRA executive director Anthony Gan says the Chinese tend to look for goods and services tax refund service, shops that accept UnionPay, Mandarin-speaking staff and special offers.
Chinese tourist spending patterns have changed, says UnionPay International Southeast Asia GM Yang Wenhui. He says spending on hotels, supermarkets, dining, airlines and retail is growing at a much faster rate than luxury goods in general.

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