Discount Retailing at People's Park


Recently, my wife and I visited the Swanston Essential Store located at People's Park Complex to pick up some toiletries. Apparently, it has been quite an institution for the denizens of the Chinatown area.

Anybody who need to purchase toiletries and cosmetic items will pop over now and then. They stock items like soap, shampoo, toothpaste, eye-liner and anything else which makes one prettier, better smelling, cleaner and germ-free. The success of the outlet has spawned a branch nearby at People's Park Centre just across the road.

How has it survived for so long and remained competitive in the cut-throat retail scene in Singapore?

I believe here are some of its secrets.

1) Prominent shopfront.

Located at a corner shophouse in a high traffic area, Swanston has an advantage compared to less visible competitors. This is of primary importance. Yep, its back to location, location, location.

2) Access to cheap and convenient storage.

I noticed that the shop stores its products in a couple of shop units nearby. As these were located in an old HDB estate, rentals are subsidised compared to swanky shopping complexes in the CBD. Both factors make it more feasible to do a quick turnaround sales.

3) Everyday Low Price policy.

This is nothing new and many department stores are already doing it. However, Swanston appear to have honed it into an art and a science.

4) Unpretentiousness.

I like the WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) approach that the store adopts in retailing. There are no fancy counters, sales girls dressed in uniforms, mood music or ambient lighting. Everything is upfront and fuss-free. Sometimes, consumers just want to make their transaction and leave without being harassed.


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