SINCE August 2021, more than 200 heartland stores have gotten help to refresh their layouts under Heartland Enterprise Centre Singapore (HECS) and Enterprise Singapore's Visual Merchandising programme.
The first run was completed in December last year, with participants seeing a 20 per cent increase in footfall and sales, estimates HECS centre director Lai Cheng Yi.
Besides physical transformation, visual merchandising includes digital marketing, brand upkeep and service excellence commitment, he added.
"This will enable a new level of marketing that appeals to a different crowd, and bring in customers that might be in different categories from those that they predominantly serve."
Soon Lee Heng (SLH) Fresh Fruits Trading
At Soon Lee Heng (SLH) Fresh Fruits Trading, two digital monitors display the stall's smoothies and their prices, along with videos about the nutritional benefits of juice. Outside, a standing screen plays ads for customisable hampers, gift boxes, fruit cups and fruit platters.
SLH was set up by brothers Ang Eng Guan and Ang Eng Hwa at Clementi West in 2014. After seeing digital screens at juice stores in malls, the older Ang, Eng Guan, was prompted to get similar displays. These were installed in January 2022 with funding and consulting support from the Visual Merchandising programme.
"We wanted to change the image of our entire shop, which has always been very traditional," he said. "We needed to differentiate ourselves from other neighbourhood fruit stalls."
A modern-looking shopfront helps it offer "higher-end" fruits such as Korean strawberries.
A digital display is also more convenient than the previous printed board, which had to be replaced every time the stall wanted to add seasonal products, hold promotions or change prices.
The store has seen a 10-15 per cent increase in sales year on year, which the brothers attribute to increased product visibility with the screens.
The standing display has helped to attract corporate orders, which form about 40 per cent of sales. Said Ang: "There are a lot of offices in our vicinity ... some think we only sell fruits, but may not know we also offer corporate deliveries and fruit subscription services."
Heng Foh Tong Medical Hall
Two years ago, a passerby could have mistaken traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) hall Heng Foh Tong for a minimart. Goods such as shampoo and washing detergent filled the shopfront -- threatening to overshadow its TCM offerings, said Heng Foh Tong vice-president Lee Chin Siong.
He embarked on his plans to revamp the 66-year-old family business after participating in the Visual Merchandising programme in October 2021.
New wooden flooring, lighting and a modern signboard were installed. Inside, Lee emulated health and beauty retail chains, arranging products by category and installing lightbox signage.
Outside, old-school red baskets and racks were replaced with drawers, allowing customers to "easily assess what's on offer".
Best-selling products -- confinement herbs and Heng Foh Tong's own range of herbal drinks -- are now displayed front and centre. Said Lee: "TCM can be very intimidating to a younger generation and they generally don't know what you're selling. That's why we wanted to display our key products prominently."
TCM and non-TCM offerings are clearly separated. "Now visually at a glance, you know that we're a TCM shop. The look is a lot cleaner and modern; newer customers find it easier to walk in, explore the shop and find things on their own."
Since the revamp in May 2022, the Bukit Batok shop has seen a 10 per cent increase in footfall and sales year on year, and attracted a younger crowd, said Lee.
M S Color
Photography equipment store M S Color was once so cluttered that owner Loh Chee Liueh often had trouble locating his inventory. Products were inconsistently placed: batteries, for instance, were both stored in drawers and hung on walls.
The 42-year-old business in Ang Mo Kio was also seeing a shrinking customer base, relying mainly on regulars. Sales of compact digital cameras have declined by over 40 per cent in the last decade due to the rise of smartphone cameras, Loh said.
To change this, Loh updated the store's layout with tips from the Visual Merchandising programme.
Product displays are now segmented by customer groups, from photography novices to professionals. While unopened boxes used to be chucked into display cases, items are now unpacked and presented on shelves.
Previously, bulky tripods and gimbals were stacked in front of the cashier. Now, accessories such as memory cards and batteries are lined up there. Said Loh: "Our cashier area is so much neater now, and we can find our stocks more quickly. Displaying supporting accessories at the front also encourages impulse buying."
Its photography laser printing machines have been shifted near the entrance, allowing customers to operate the equipment on their own. "Some people didn't even know we offered printing, because the machines used to be located in a studio at the back," said Loh.
M S Color now attracts younger walk-in customers who not only spend more time in the store, but linger outside to look at the products, he said.
Students and young adults make up about half of its clientele, up from just 20 per cent before the revamp. Sales have grown by 10-20 per cent year on year, he added.
Source: The Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.