When Taobao announced the launch of a physical store in Singapore last month, we breathed a collective sigh: FINALLY. A physical catalogue of Taobao items that you could see, touch, feel, and try.
Housed in NOMADX an “…experiential store that recognises your individuality, knows what you like, and finds what you seek”, we were looking forward to a technology-forward boutique that would deliver personalised brand experiences by our favourite online-only brands; as promised by the press coverage.
And, well, nothing beats coping a feel of that leather bag you’ve been eyeing online, right? The names lined-up looked promising as well: L’ORÉAL, Karl Lagerfeld, Miss Selfridge, Mlouye, Style Theory – and of course – Taobao.
The Taobao “shop” in NOMADX is nothing more than a small physical shop display created to convince Taobao-skeptics.
It’s only worth your time if…
1. You’re a curious tech geek.
You love all things tech, can’t get enough of interactive displays, think that VR is the future, and been to Future Worlds at least twice. NomadX’s boutiques are equipped with sensor-activated displays (powered by QR code, RFID or similar) that are still novel enough to keep you engaged on a lazy afternoon.
2. You’re a Taobao virgin who needs validation.
You know about Taobao – but you’ve always watched the action from the sidelines. You find it exciting to watch your friends unpack their Taobao loot. But the occasional lemon keeps you skeptical about the long-term value and quality of a Taobao purchase. Surely a couch that costs SGD 250 can’t last more than a year without looking the worse for wear, right? You need to see it with your own eyes – before you thrown down your hard-earned cash #seeingisbelieving
The NOMADX Experience
NOMADX itself is a shop that occupies a corner of Plaza Singapura’s new wing. The main entrance begins at level 1, and goes up to level 3 – where you’ll find Taobao’s physical shop.
The entrance is pretty nondescript. Walk right in to the end of length of the 1st floor (about 20 – 30 metres) and you’ll find this kiosk which allows you to “customise” your experience.
Above: NOMADX Personalisation Station. Enter your deets, fill out a survey and you get a freebie or discount to kickstart your shopping spree.
With the Taobao physical store nowhere in sight, we did a little exploration of NOMADX in our quest for Chinese retail heaven.
NOMADX pitched themselves as a multi-label concept store that promises “unique retail adventures”, new-to-market products and experiences. But there was little proof of that aside from a few sensor activated displays like the ones below:
The Taobao Shop
Finally, tucked away on the 3rd level is the Taobao shop.
And in it was a tastefully curated collection of home furnishings and electronics – mostly big ticket items that are popular with shoppers but carry the most risk because of their cost and the difficulty involved in shipping them over.
But as far as shopping goes, there’s none to be had here.
You can’t waltz in, buy and take home any of the wares on display.
All you can do is to scan the QR codes on the price-tags, which will direct you to their item page on Taobao’s app.
But be wary of the wares on display – prices are different from what you’d see in the Taobao shop. Like this smart pet feeder that has a price tag for RMB 199, but actually retails for RMB 139 – 169 on Taobao’s online store.
We decided to try the “interactive” display at the shop, since it was the most high-tech thing there, and well, we were pretty sold on the buzz built up around Alibaba’s new shopping experiences.
The experience itself is pretty straight-forward.
You whip out your phone, and scan the QR code, and the QR code directs you to the item page.
You can also pick up the plastic-chip (that the QR code is printed on) and take it over to the display. Set it down on a special placeholder, and the product info is projected on to the screen.
So that wraps up our little excursion 🙂
Even rabid fans of online shopping need a little walk now and then.
Next stop, who knows? Maybe we’ll be visiting HEMA in Shanghai.
Should we go? Help us decide? 😀