Operators are turning to new store formats
Thailand’s modern retail sector in the wake of the pandemic has evolved from big-box stores offering a wide variety of products and prices to next-generation stores catering to a modern lifestyle using technology to deliver personalized value.
Technological disruption and the pandemic are recognized as the main factors driving changes in consumer behavior, leading retailers to redesign their stores.
Retailers big and small have planned to launch new stores and concepts in the second half of this year after Covid-19 restrictions eased and buying sentiment picked up.
Next-generation retail stores that have emerged in recent months include Central Retail Corporation’s (CRC) Tops Club membership store; Silom Edge of Frasers Property Thailand; Terminal 21 Rama 3 of Siam Retail Development Co; and Lotus’ North Ratchapruek of the Ek-Chai distribution system under Charoen Pokphand Group (CP).
Additionally, The Mall Group Co’s The Emsphere shopping mall, located on Sukhumvit Road, is scheduled to open in December 2023. The Emsphere is part of the group’s “EM District” development plan, which includes a 50-rai in the Sukhumvit region. with a combined usable space of 650,000 square meters.
Located next to Benchasiri Park, The Emsphere is a mixed-use project with an investment of 20 billion baht.
The project covers 200,000 m² in total, including retail, an entertainment arena and a hotel.
An artist representation of The Emsphere on Sukhumvit Road, scheduled to open in December 2023.
New smart retail
Sompong Rungnirattisai, managing director of Ek-Chai Distribution System Co, the operator of Lotus’ retail stores, said the retail landscape in Thailand had changed rapidly since the emergence of big-box stores known as the name of hypermarkets in the country.
Malls are now hosting hypermarkets within their buildings, providing customers with a more holistic shopping and lifestyle experience.
E-commerce has flourished during the pandemic, allowing consumers to take advantage of their online and offline shopping experience, he said.
“Retailers are now moving into the era of ‘new smart retail’, offering next-generation stores tailored to the lifestyles and needs of customers in each region,” said Sompong.
“No two Lotus stores are the same, each offering an assortment of products tailored to customer demographics.”
Benchawan Ongsri, executive director of shopping malls at Ek-Chai Distribution System, said Lotus’ North Ratchapruek, the first 24-hour smart community center, is scheduled to open on November 11 this year.
The branch is located on a 16 rai plot in the Ratchaphruek district in the west of Bangkok.
“Using consumer insights and research, it took longer than usual to design this retail store as a convenient food destination and lifestyle hub for consumers, avoiding excessive travel times. “said Ms Benchawan.
In addition to the launch of the North Ratchapruek store, the company is committed to revamping 224 other Lotus hypermarkets, giving them a new image, not only in terms of changing the facade, but also by offering marketing events likely to attract people to its stores.
Lotus plans to introduce a “new premium smart supermarket” opposite Iconsiam Shopping Center later this year.
The company describes its concept as an urban supermarket with a new look.
A Tops Club employee explains some details about the products.
GASTRONOMY TOPS AND CLUB TOPS
Last Friday, Central Food Retail Co (CFR), the operator of Tops supermarket, launched a new store format called Tops Fine Food Sukhumvit 49, a luxury destination for artisan products and a selection of quality imported ingredients superior quality from the best producers in the world.
The store offers more than 8,000 items, including more than 800 products that CFR says are available in Thailand for the first time, exclusive to this store.
Stéphane Coum, Managing Director of Central Food Retail Group, described Tops Fine Food Sukhumvit 49 as a new puzzle piece that will complete the company’s food business portfolio.
Mr. Coum at Tops Fine Food, CRC’s latest concept market which opened October 7 on Sukhumvit Soi 49.
According to Mr. Coum, the two-story market features distinctive architecture with an elegant and sophisticated design that exudes warmth.
“The launch of the first Tops Fine Food on Sukhumvit Soi 49 will elevate the food retail industry by meeting all the lifestyle needs of modern high-end consumers who are looking for sophisticated products different from the typical – something exclusive and unavailable elsewhere,” he said.
A second Tops Fine Food outlet is expected to open around Ekamai in November, Mr Coum said.
This is the ninth store concept offered by CFR. The others are Tops Market, Tops Food Hall, Tops Superstore, Central Food Hall, Tops Daily, Tops Online, Family Mart, and Tops Club membership store, featuring imported consumer goods and high-end products.
CFR launched Tops Club late last month, with the first branch located behind Central Rama 2 in Bangkok, offering 15,000 sqm of retail space in a warehouse-style building divided into three areas.
Tops Club sells 3,500 products in five categories: dry groceries and beverages, fresh produce, alcohol, general merchandise and housewares.
Some 70% of the products are imported from 20 countries, including the United States, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
The display concept differs from typical store layouts. Customers can try out products before they buy at more than 40 pick-up points throughout the store, with experts providing helpful information.
Customers can also take photos to share on social media and have fun in the store before making a purchase, according to CFR.
Silom Edge at the corner of Silom and Rama 4 Road
The first phase of Silom Edge, located at the intersection of Silom and Rama IV roads, opened on October 3 on the basement (B1) and ground floor. Operated by Frasers Property Thailand, the 24-story building has 18 floors of office space for rent and six floors of retail.
“Silom Edge was developed with the unique and innovative concept of a sandbox community in Bangkok’s central business district, aimed at attracting digital entrepreneurs,” said Thiranant Kornsritipa, Executive Vice President of Retail Development at Frasers Property Thailand.
“Here we offer a 24-hour food court for all lifestyles with flexible workspace in the heart of Bangkok.”
At the water’s edge
Siam Retail Development Co, operator of the Terminal 21 shopping complexes, is set to open Terminal 21 Rama 3 at 15 rai land on October 20.
Terminal 21 Rama 3 is a new lifestyle shopping mall located by the Chao Phraya River, with a unique interior design in a neo-classical style, inspired by seven world-class tourist destination cities.
The mall is expected to cover 40,000 m².
Amorn Phutthiphiriya, Chief Operating Officer at Thanapiriya Plc, the operator of Thanapiriya retail stores in Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai and Phayao provinces, said the company’s new retail store concept is called TNP Express. .
The stores have an average area of only 350 m², with the aim of serving customers at the tambon (sub-district) level.
“Whatever the retail environment, we’re ready to fight,” Ms. Amorn said.
“Over the past three decades, we have completely transformed from a wholesale operator to a hybrid wholesale and retail operator.”
The company’s existing Thanapiriya store format spans 800-1,500 sqm per store.
Thanapiriya operates a total of 40 retail stores in the three northern provinces, aiming to add two more outlets later this year, she said.
“We are also exploring new retail formats. We are always expanding and doing so with speed and flexibility, using our experience of more than three decades,” Ms. Amorn said.
“We may be the last local retailers to die, but we hope not.”