Siam Piwat readies new sustainable model after virus crisis
The pandemic has stopped the traditional way of doing retail business, with social distancing, touchless options, hygienic cleaning and comprehensive information tracking becoming mandatory for most retailers.
Chadatip Chutrakul, chief executive of Siam Piwat Co, the operator of Siam Discovery, Siam Paragon, Siam Center and Iconsiam malls, sees Covid-19 as a war.
"Siam Piwat has confronted many crises in its 62 years. During our 38 years of managing this organisation, our revenues were zero during the political violence for three months [in 2010], while debt skyrocketed during the 1997 financial crisis. We have been around longer than any other shopping complex," Mrs Chadatip said.
"We are fighting something we cannot see. Speed is essential, including making quick decisions about preventive measures and developing a new business model to respond to this new retail era. Collaboration will be key to winning once the outbreak ends."
The company's new "sustainable" model focuses on three cores: collaboration, shared values and an ecosystem.
"We will ramp up the development of these three cores after the crisis. We don't compete to win, but will collaborate and create new ways to win because only 30% of our experience over 38 years can be applied to our business going forward," she said.
"Ecotopia at Siam Discovery will open in July this year as part of our new model for retail business."
Ecotopia will offer 1 million products and services for new lifestyles. It claims to be the largest eco-community in Asia, spanning 2,000 square metres.
The mall's products are designed to cater to sustainable living in all dimensions, with sales campaigns designed to be sincere and transparent.
Ecotopia is an example of collaboration strategy. It is originated as an initiative of 12 eco-community leaders in collaboration with Siam Piwat and pioneering retail business models that truly serve consumers' changing behaviour and needs.
Online shopping and e-shoppers have significantly increased as consumers are more familiar with online purchasing. The company also offers seamless omni-channel shopping services.
"For the first time in Thailand, we have initiated a luxury brand shopping experience through social commerce, with 'Luxury Chat & Shop' service," Mrs Chadatip said.
"Now luxury items can be delivered to customers' doorsteps. It has become a benchmark service that is drawing attention from many world brands."
Moreover, Siam Center Virtual Mall, in collaboration with Lazada, brings Siam Center onto the digital shopping platform.
She said the company has also adopted maximum precautionary measures for both customers and its employees since the early stage of the pandemic.
"When we reopen, Siam Piwat will still maintain the strict measures and maximise hygienic practices for every touchpoint, with innovative health and safety measures such as automatic disinfectant gates and True 5G Temi Thermal Scan Autobot," Mrs Chadatip said.
She expects sales from overall shopping centres in Thailand to decline by 50% from last year's 175 billion baht, after retail malls were ordered to close for almost two months.
Mrs Chadatip believes sales at malls in the first three months of this year will be about 30-40% lower year-on-year, as 50% of shoppers choose to remain at home because of social distancing.
"We expect Thailand's 3.5-trillion-baht retail industry will return to normal within 18 months," she said.