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The By Appointment VIP area is an intimate yet luxurious private space (above) that comes with its own entrance.

The By Appointment VIP area is an intimate yet luxurious private space that comes with its own entrance (above).

By Appointment is a bespoke shopping service offered by Space Furniture for its customers.

The VIP room has a kitchenette so that refreshments can be prepared.

Trying out Commune's VR experience.

Clients can pick up paint and laminate samples to create their own mood boards.

Customers can create their own scents for their home.

Educational wall showing how Commune pieces are made.

Some of the homeware brands that Robinsons carries include Comme Homme (above), Galanga Living, and the "M Project" by Baobab Collection.

Galanga Living.

The "M Project" by Baobab Collection.

Standing out from the pack (Amended)

Local furniture and homeware retailers are coming up with innovative ways to up the shopping experience.
Oct 21, 2016 5:50 AM

Exclusivity and privacy

By Appointment
Space Furniture
The Villa Level 2
77 Bencoolen Street

SHOPPING at Space Furniture just got a little more luxe. For a start, you don't even need to drive yourself there, thereby doing away with being stuck in traffic, or going round in circles hunting for a parking space.

Instead, as part of its newly launched By Appointment service, a limousine will come and pick you up from your home to take you to the store.

"By Appointment caters to clients looking for an exclusive, discreet and bespoke furniture consultation experience," says Eileen Tan, Space's marketing manager.

Pre-visit questionnaire

As its name implies, booking this service is by appointment only, through Space Furniture's website. Customers select their preferred date and time, and if they require transport. A consultant will get in touch within 24 hours, to find out more about what the client is looking for.

"There will be a pre-visit questionnaire, to find out which rooms are to be furnished and what kind of home it is," Ms Tan explains.

Once they arrive, they're whisked off to the By Appointment area, a private space that comes with its own entrance. Depending on the time of day, canapes or even a meal may be served. There's also TWG tea and even wines.

"We will have our senior consultants, who have 20 years of experience to help clients select their furniture," points out Ms Tan, who forsees that the service will be popular with highly private clients, interior designers and foreign investors.

Those just looking for a coffee table need not apply.

If such high-end clients want to do a Michael Jackson and shop before or after showroom hours, it can be arranged.

Space declined to reveal how much was spent fitting out the By Appointment area. Celebrity interior designer Peter Tay, who had previously designed the Maxalto shop-in-shop area for Space, was tasked to design the By Appointment area. 

"For By Appointment, I wanted the space to show luxury, since it is for selected clients, rather than the raw, industrial," says Mr Tay, who was inspired by Fendi's Palazzo Privé in Rome. The apartment that is used exclusively for entertaining Fendi's top VIP and celebrity customers has a vintage feel with contemporary touches. "At the same time, I wanted to create an intimate space, so clients feel like they are returning home when they come to Space."

Bronze mirrors and timber panels line the walls to create a sense of warmth. Mr Tay selected furniture pieces from Max Aalto, Carl Hansen and Arflex to fill the room. Some of the pieces were designed in the 1950s, but still look modern today. "I wanted to create a soul for the space by introducing some classic pieces," he reveals.

Mr Tay adds: "Selecting pieces for the home should be a leisurely affair, so this is definitely a space that makes you want to linger."

Amendment Note: The article has been updated with the correct spelling of Maxalto.

Full sensory shopping

Commune Experience Centre
28 Defu Lane 4
Defu Industrial Park

EVER bought a sofa or a dining table only to find the dimensions were off, or the design didn't fit in as well with the rest of the home, as you had hoped it would?

Local furniture retailer Commune is taking the guesswork out of furnishing a home, with several new features that enhance the shopping experience.

For a start, it recently launched the 3D Floorplanner and Virtual Reality (VR) Experience. Bring your floor plan to the store, and they will scan it into the system. Pick your favourite pieces from the Commune range, and place them around the "home". You can also change the colours of the walls, and even the flooring material.

A 3D rendering of the home is created which gives you a clearer idea of how your home will look. "We decided to implement this software, after getting feedback from customers that they buy furniture which doesn't really fit well in their home," says Joshua Koh, Commune's chief financial officer.

And if looking at it on plan isn't enough, Commune has also tapped onto VR technology. You don a VR headset and get to walk through your apartment virtually with your choice of furniture all laid out. The experience feels so real, you almost want to reach out to touch the furniture.

"We believe with 3D planning and the VR experience will increase the customer's confidence in shopping with us," says Mr Koh.

A better experience

Besides tapping on technology, Commune is also working closely with industry partners to give customers a better shopping experience. For example, customers can pick Nippon paint swatches and Lamitek laminate samples to create their own mood boards.

There's also an educational board, which holds information on the materials used by Commune, and how the furniture is assembled.

The five-year-old Commune has also linked up with indie fragrance brand Oo La Lab to create bespoke scents for the home. Oo La Lab will set up a "fragrance lab" at Commune showrooms where live consultations take place and products are mixed in-situ for customers. Another partner is swimwear brand K Blu, which has created a series of homeware accessories such as cushion covers, coasters and place mats.

Gan Shee Wen, Commune's vice-president of sales and marketing says that shopping at Commune will be for more than just big furniture pieces. "Customers can come here and discover a one-of-a-kind artisan cutting board, a hand-made tablecloth, or a rare fashion find not available elsewhere," he explains. "We've spent much time and effort to round up a collection of exquisite works from brands in Singapore and abroad that aren't just impeccably designed but also appeal to our various senses."

Mr Gan adds: "Collaborations with such brands not only help us to stand out from the crowd but they also give us new revenue streams and market opportunities."

All about the personal touch

Robinsons The Heeren
260 Orchard Road

AT Robinsons The Heeren, why lift a finger when its personal shopper service can do it for you? And it's not just for fashion and beauty items, but home and living needs as well.

Opt for the service, and you can relax at the Personal Shopping Suite, nodding or shaking your head as you're shown the store's selection of bath towels and cushions.

Personal shopper Shaun Lim says that over the years, the store has steadily built a large loyal customer base who enjoy buying things from its Bedshop department.

"With their continued support, we thought that it made sense to provide them with an even-better retail experience by offering personalised Home & Living Personal Shopper Services to them," he adds.

Face-to-face appointment

Shoppers first fill up a questionnaire with their requests, such as finding items for a new apartment.

Within the next three days, a Personal Shopper will call the customer to find out about their preferences and arrange a face-to-face appointment at the Personal Shopping Suite.

Once there, the Personal Shopper presents the customer a mood board, and a wide selection of items, expertly curated based on the customer's needs.

A personal tour around the store can also be arranged, and the one- or two-hour session will end with the customers buying what they want.

Robinsons' team of personal shoppers are trained in visual merchandising. "In addition, my experience in working in retail for a diverse range of fashion, lifestyle and luxury goods brands has taught me to critically analyse upcoming trends and confidently address customers' demands and concerns," notes Mr Lim. "It also helps that I am personally interested in the area of home and living too."

Items that the Personal Shopper picks out are all from Robinsons, although they do have some requests from customers who are looking for something outside of Robinsons, and "we do our best to provide them with ideas and suggestions", says Mr Lim.

Some of the homeware brands that Robinsons carries include Comme Homme, Galanga Living, the "M Project" by Baobab Collection, and Dome Deco.

Mr Lim points out that shoppers usually think of fashion first when it comes to Personal Shopping. "Hence, we are very keen on raising awareness and informing shoppers about the fact that the Personal Shopper Service is applicable for our Home & Living section as well," he explains.

"So far, we have received very encouraging feedback from the shoppers who have used our Home & Living Personal Shopper Service and we expect more requests for this complimentary service."