Amid the ever-changing retail landscape and the proliferation of social media, Jeffrey Teo, General Manager of Eastpoint Mall leverages on his experience in managing both retail and commercial properties to ensure that the mall stays competitive. He shares with us his insights as well as how he keeps up with the fast-paced industry.
Jeffrey Teo (first from left) and his team at Eastpoint Mall
Since kicking off his career with Frasers Property Singapore in 2007, Jeffrey has overseen six properties. His first assignment as Centre Manager of Valley Point for two years required him to also manage Robertson Walk. Thereafter, he transferred to KeyPoint, a commercial property that was located along Beach Road. From there, Jeffrey subsequently progressed to managing China Square Central and 55 Market Street before moving to Eastpoint Mall where he has been the past three years.
Keeping up with the times
Jeffrey’s wealth of knowledge and distinctive professional experience has helped him develop a flair in understanding the consumer landscape. He also credits constant training and upskilling opportunities for this.
“Every year, we are sent for trainings to keep ourselves up to date on skills and knowledge of the retail scene in Singapore. This helps us pace ourselves to evolve alongside the retail landscape. As the industry gets progressively digitised, it is also important that we adapt accordingly and learn how to use digital tools to our advantage.
We are also encouraged to enroll in training aimed at improving our leadership qualities and management skills so we can grow professionally. A recent example would be a workshop on crisis management that we attended, which taught us how to respond to, and prevent crises, which is important in today’s day and age.”
Staying one step ahead
While it is important to prepare for possible crises that may arise, Jeffrey shares that it is just as important, if not more, to be one step ahead when it comes to needs of discerning customers.
“New shopping malls have been sprouting up in every part of Singapore in recent years. New brands and concepts have been introduced into the market. Retailers are showing signs of straying away from traditional brick-and-mortar shops and are providing more experiential shopping experiences to customers.
These days, with the prevalence of malls at every corner, retailers naturally have more options as to where they would like to set up shop at. Brands will pick the mall that they will best thrive in. Bearing this in mind this, the nature of my role warrants me to stay updated on what retailers are looking for, changing shoppers’ preferences, and how the mall should be positioned.”
Addressing challenges with creativity
“Eastpoint Mall is located in the small estate of Simei, which has a population size of around 40,000, unlike neighborhoods such as Tampines or Bedok where the size of the population is four to five times bigger. Our mall must be self-contained and have unique offerings to stay competitive and bring in a steady footfall.
Curating the right tenant mix in the mall is critical in bringing in crowds. I am always on the lookout for the next up-and-coming tenant to bring into our mall, be it unique restaurants, entertainment or educational options.
Customers are also very discerning. Receiving gifts or promotions alongside purchases has become a norm. Hence, marketing and advertising ideas must be novel and creative to entice shoppers.
Last year, we held a “Sand-sational Escapades” event during the school holidays where we set up beach booths offering fun for the whole family. We brought in real sand, complete with foldables beach chairs, and hosted a social media contest where shoppers stand a chance to win exciting prizes by snapping a photo of themselves at any of the activity areas.
This event was well received as we were able to replicate a beach environment inside our mall, and shoppers and their children had a good time! The social media contest component also helped as it encouraged shoppers to take part in the activities.”
Sand-sational set up in Eastpoint Mall. We brought the beach to our shoppers!
According to Jeffrey, ways to tackling these challenges include being receptive to new platforms such as social media, to communicate and relay information to shoppers.
“Social media is a double-edged sword. When executed correctly, a strong social media presence could be a key sales driver for retailers. There are also times when we need to pay extra attention to how we leverage social media within the retail industry, especially these days when personal experiences, both good and bad, that are shared on social media can spread quickly and easily.”
Overcoming hurdles as a team
Jeffrey stresses the importance of communication to his team. Using the example of a new tenant operating in the mall, multiple departments—from the security team, marketing team, to the leasing team—will have to work together to ensure the smooth transition of the tenant into the mall.
A meeting without snacks and drinks are unlike Jeffrey (centre) and his team
“As a team, we choose to trust and communicate other. There is a bond between all 23 of us here, that has been strengthened over team lunches and other out of office gatherings. I think such activities help bring us together, and to better operate as one. Working in silos does not benefit anyone.”
Positivity as personal motivation
“A healthy body promotes a healthy mind. I enjoy partaking in activities that help me unwind, such as listening to music (I’m a fan of the Bee Gees and Andy Williams!), reading books, as well as playing badminton weekly with my friends.
Jeffrey (third from left) and his close knit friends enjoying a game of badminton over the weekend
I also believe in exuding a positive energy around my friends, family and colleagues, and value harmony. Witnessing the success of the people around me makes me happy and this keeps me motivated both in life and at work