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Business Advice

EpiCentre offers targeted deals via mobile app

These include special location-based offers, free delivery and even spa treatments
The Straits Times - May 2, 2012
By: Sherwin Loh
| More
EpiCentre offers targeted deals via mobile app -- PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: QUEK HONG SHIN

Fancy a box of chocolates or a spa treatment with that purchase of earphones or an iPhone case?

Local electronics retail chain EpiCentre has launched an online retail store for mobile devices that offers more than just tech peripherals such as speakers and headphones.

On the menu are spa treatments, fancy chocolates and, soon, wines and spirits. And you can use your cellphone or tablet to buy them and have them delivered to your doorstep.

The EpiCentre App, available on Apple's iOS platform, is its first foray into mobile commerce. It is offering lifestyle products and even peripherals for Android devices.

An Android version of the app is in the pipeline.

The mobile shopping app was launched here last week and the company plans to launch it in markets such as China and Thailand by the third quarter of this year.

It combines an online retail front with special offers available via posters or e-mail messages. These deals are distributed by QR (Quick Response) codes that consumers scan with their mobile devices after downloading the app.

More than 80 items, which make up about 5percent of the products which EpiCentre sells, are available online.

The company has already put up posters in 15 MRT stations and all 10 of its bricks-and-mortar stores. It is working with Republic Polytechnic, Cathay Cineplexes and other partners to set up more displays.

The idea is to treat each location as a storefront in itself, said EpiCentre's group general manager, Mr Henry Hsu.

'This way, you can have dedicated offers at different locations, such as having more lifestyle items aimed at young people in schools,' he said.

When customers spot something they want on EpiCentre's posters, they scan its QR code with the app and pay with a credit card or PayPal.

Home delivery, usually within two days, is free. Buyers may also opt to pick up their purchases at the two EpiLife stores at 313@Somerset and Ngee Ann City.

EpiCentre started out 10 years ago as an Apple Premium Reseller. It launched EpiLife as a retail concept store recently.

This is how company founder and chief executive officer Jimmy Fong explained this move into mobile commerce: 'People are getting busier and it is only a matter of time before they head online to start shopping.'

To differentiate mobile and in-store offerings, each will have separate and different promotions.

Another departure from the company norm is that it created the app in partnership with a United States mobile app developer, Cellcity. It cost about $300,000.

The pair are working to offer the infrastructure to other businesses for them to set up their own online retail stores.

This can mean tying up with distributors and vendors to offer special deals or helping a company develop its own online branding by creating an entire online retail front.

But all this is still in the planning stages, said Mr Hsu, and the first objective is to ensure the success of its own online store, which will also serve as a case study.

The one brand whose goods the online store will not sell is Apple. EpiCentre is authorised to sell Apple products, such as iPhones and iPads, only in its bricks-and-mortar stores.

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