There is no shortage of ambitious shopping centres offering world-class shopping, dining and leisure in Bangkok – but there is only a handful frequently cited among the Thai capital’s most popular tourist attractions.
Located on the banks of Chao Phraya River, shopping destination Iconsiam is a crown jewel in the portfolio of Siam Piwat, among Thailand’s leading property and retail developers.
Built in 2018, Iconsiam today houses some of the largest luxury flagship stores in Thailand, including Hermès, Salvatore Ferragamo, Fendi, Versace, and Michael Kors. The development has also hosted a number of luxury brand pop-ups, from Bvlgari’s Serpenti lighting installation to Louis Vuitton and Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Dancing Pumpkin’ event.
Retail in Asia speaks with Supoj Chaiwatsirikul, managing director of Iconsiam, on creating a quintessential destination for Thai shoppers.
RiA: How would you describe how the mall has bounced back since the pandemic?
Supoj Chaiwatsirikul: We have seen a significant increase in foot traffic and sales volume. This surge has been primarily driven by the influx of both local and international visitors, particularly from China, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Cambodia. The increase in foot traffic and sales volume at Iconsiam is mainly attributed to a series of large-scale and world-class events, which were the result of successful collaboration with the government, private sector and local communities along the Chao Phraya River. The latest successful event was the Iconic Songkran Festival 2023 in April, making Iconsiam the only shopping center in Thailand where Songkran Thai New Year tradition is celebrated by the river.
In the first quarter of 2023, Iconsiam posted a remarkable increase of over 40 percent in sales and 94 percent in traffic compared to the same quarter last year (Q1 2022), thanks to the increasing number of Thai and foreign visitors, especially those with high purchasing power residing in Thonburi and nearby provinces.
RiA: Please tell us about your vision and strategy for Iconsiam.
Chaiwatsirikul: Our strategy for operating Iconsiam is aligned with Siam Piwat’s vision and mission to consistently deliver unparalleled experiences that delight and inspire customers. Therefore, we focus on providing an enjoyable shopping experience and delivering exceptional customer experiences, with a wide selection of retailers, from high-end luxury brands to small local businesses.
Iconsiam is an example of a new business model that is completely different from traditional development projects as it operates under the strategies of “co-creation” and “creating shared value” which aims to bring prosperity to the communities and business in its vicinity in significant ways and contributes to the economic impact of Thonburi area. Iconsiam has dedicated over 30 percent of its space to SMEs to support small businesses nationwide, giving them opportunities to sell products at Sook Siam.
Another example is Iconcraft, which is a door of opportunity for over 800 Thai craftsmen, designers, and local communities across Thailand and seeks to forge a path towards modern trade [through education]. As a retail ecosystem that truly creates sustainable success and mutual benefits for all involved, Iconcraft has helped many entrepreneurs from local communities take their business to a global level within only two years after opening.
Iconsiam’s tenant strategy is aimed to create a culture of collaboration and co-creation where all stakeholders are empowered to contribute their unique perspectives and expertise to ensure that we not only achieve business growth but also sustainably create positive social and environmental impact.
RiA: Have you observed emerging trends in Thailand’s mall culture?
Chaiwatsirikul: People are starting to realize what they are missing. They are looking for experiential moments that connect with other people. We are seeing an increase in the number of events and activities taking place in malls.
We believe that this trend will continue and that malls will become more of a destination for entertainment and leisure, rather than just shopping places. We strive to go above and beyond to provide exceptional and meaningful experiences for our customers. We bring in top luxury brands and world-class events and exhibitions to Iconsiam so that our customers are able to enjoy the best the world has to offer.
Some of the largest luxury flagship stores in Thailand are located in Iconsiam, including Hermès, Salvatore Ferragamo, Fendi, Versace, and Michael Kors. Each of these stores has a distinctive interior design and furnishings that give each store a sense of exclusivity. Moreover, luxury brands regularly host pop-up events at Iconsiam for luxury lovers to enjoy, such as the Bvlgari Serpenti Necklace Light Structure pop-up event, the world’s tallest interactive light sculpture, and the Louis Vuitton ‘Dancing Pumpkin’ pop-up event, which is a collaboration project between Loius Vuitton and the world-renowned Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.
Iconsiam also brought in Blue, the first fine-dining restaurant in Thailand by the legendary Michelin star chef Alain Ducasse, one of only two world-class chefs to have amassed 21 Michelin stars.
In addition, the world-famous immersive art exhibition “Van Gogh Alive Bangkok”, which is the largest immersive Van Gogh exhibition in Southeast Asia is also held for the first time in Thailand at Iconsiam. It’s these events and experiences that customers cannot find anywhere else, and it’s where we stand out from the rest.
In addition, sustainability is becoming an increasingly important factor in the retail industry, as companies strive to reduce their environmental impact and create more efficient operations.
RiA: There have been numerous shifts in the world of retail during the pandemic. How have Thai shoppers evolved in the last few years?
Chaiwatsirikul: Following the pandemic, we have noticed a shift in Thai customers’ habits, with an increased focus on safety, convenience and experience. We have seen an increase in the number of customers using contactless payment methods.
We have also seen an increase in the number of customers looking for discounts and promotions, as well as an increase in the number of customers looking for unique and personalised shopping experiences. We understand the importance of convenience and efficiency when it comes to shopping. Our commitment to customer satisfaction is evident in every aspect of our business and we are constantly looking for ways to improve and enhance the shopping experience for our customers.