It has become clear that the traditional concepts that made a retail centre or shopping mall a thriving precinct no longer exist. The coming of the digital age and the changing habits of our customers has meant that shopping centres have had to redefine what it is they offer to ensure they remain relevant. As consumers continue to spend more online where convenience, savings and the ability to shop around exist with ease, creating a space that harvests human connection, elevates the human experience and expands the customer’s expectations is the advantage precincts have to remain a place that draws people in and continues to meet all the metrics of a successful retail centre.
The successful centres around the globe are focussing on three key components. One point that we cannot express enough is that what was once a stock-standard formula for creating a mall that satisfied is no longer. Every community, every customer, every space in a different suburb, city or country demands something different and knowing exactly what that is is pivotal to the development and success of a centre. However, these three components are proving to be a common thread in the malls that are standing out from the crowd and defining them as ‘more than just a mall’.
1 Experience combined with convenience
Convenience can be found online but the digital world is hard-pressed to replicate the experience customers receive from visiting a well executed physical space. Malls and centres around the world are harnessing this and developing their centres based on a broadened value proposition for customers as opposed to the traditional commoditised shopping experience. Gyms, concert halls, events, concierge services, spas and farmer’s markets are all modern elements of Today’s malls that are adding value to a customer’s visit. When it comes to food, design-driven dining precincts and foodie events are creating a place for community to thrive, where friends and family can enjoy a meal together rather than eat a meal in a stark, brightly lit food court.
With that said, commodities are still a necessity but instead of an entire mall being based around them, zones are being designed into the precincts to allow customers to choose where they want to go based on their reason for visiting. This allows customers to easily access exactly what they need and removes inconvenience as a barrier for visiting.
2 Technology-enhanced connections with the customer
Malls of the future are using technology to their advantage. It offers the ability to extend the customer journey, enhance the experience and gather useful data to continue transforming as the customer does. Social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram can create hype about new outlets or events and tech-driven loyalty programs can create deeper bonds with the customers, rewarding them for their spending and at the same time gaining information on spend, demographics etc that malls can benefit from. Further to this, technology also allows malls to diffuse customer dissatisfaction caused by the common pain points in the customer journey. Sensors in car parks, interactive guide apps, click and collect shopping - these advancements directly tackle the negative aspects of visiting a mall and ultimately improves the customer journey from start to finish.
3 Traditional design transformed
The mall of the future resemble nothing of its predecessor in its design and its leasing strategy. Open-air, ambient, green, design-driven - these are all ways to describe what the transformed mall looks and feels like with more emphasis being put on the feel of a space and ensuring it responds to its natural environment as much as possible. More public spaces are being installed which traditionally would have been leased to more retailers, allowing people to have space to come together, for events to be held and pop-up activations to take place. These seasonal, trend-driven events entice and please customers and their transient nature allows the spaces to continually update, drawing more customers in.
Through experience, technology and powerful design, the mall of the future delivers on so many more levels than what the traditional mall was designed to fulfill. The mall of the future provides a feeling, a sense of connectedness, an experience that exceeds expectations and an ease of access that makes visiting these centres desirable, satisfying and rewarding for the people that use them. These malls are more than ‘just a mall’
Cover image credit- Renzo Piano's City Center Bishop Ranch in California image via Business Insider