Before we know it, malls and shopping centers will look completely different, and their tenants will need to adjust in order to fit in and survive.
By incorporating new physical and technological methods into the fold, the shopping experience of the future will extend beyond the physical space and into the digital and emotional realm. Duplicating the convenient ease of online retail while integrating our tech-forward world into your storefront will drive traffic to your store and keep malls open and thriving.
Is your store ready for the mall of the future? Here are four major changes to expect in the new era of shopping malls and how retailers should prepare to capitalize on them:
Smartphones will be a shopping buddy
Smartphones are already an essential part of the shopping experience; customers access coupons, search for better prices, and share snapshots of products with their friends. In the future, smartphone use will only continue to increase. Customers will expect to have unlimited access to free Wi-Fi, the ability to search through store inventory, and the option to skip the checkout line by purchasing goods via your native app.
How to make it big: If your retail store doesn’t already have a mobile app, now’s the time to hire a developer. Once the mobile wave engulfs the retail space, you don’t want to be stuck on dry land.
Malls will morph into commodity centers
You’ve probably already noticed an uptick in non-traditional tenants becoming part of the mall portfolio. Establishments like pharmacies, gyms, grocers, and hairdressers are now commonplace in malls across America, and this trend will only continue to increase in prevalence. Expect to see new, exciting additions along the lines of ski slopes, aquariums, farmers markets, spas, and concert halls. Malls will evolve to be much more than a simple shopping destination.
How to make it big: As malls evolve to cater to additional audiences, always keep a finger on the pulse of these changes and a watchful eye on partnership opportunities. If you own a music store, perhaps you can join forces with the concert hall to provide special offers. If your store sells beauty supplies, consider cross-selling your product with the spa. Greater store diversity means more opportunities for collaboration.
Big data will drive every decision
The big data era is upon us, and companies are already beginning to understand the importance of collecting and analyzing insightful data about their customers. These new and amazing tools will help narrow the growing customization gap between storefronts and online retailers, and companies that neglect data in their decision-making will fall way behind the curve. Data can teach you everything about your customers, and the more you know about them, the better service you can offer.
How to make it big: Thanks to opt-in solutions like mobile apps, you now have information at your fingertips about customers’ identities, personalities, and shopping preferences. Constantly incorporate this data into your business and adjust your storefront offerings to cater to these quirks. The minute a customer walks in the door, your team should be prepared to help her quickly find exactly what she wants.
Shopping will be an experience
The mall of the future will not only look different, but also feel different. It will provide consumers with a unique experience that our current model simply doesn’t provide. Rather than rigid, bland storefronts, retailers need to become shopping facilitators that duplicate and enhance the comfort and convenience of e-commerce.
How to make it big: Do more than provide a shopping venue; provide a shopping experience. Go above and beyond by building a helpful and engaging atmosphere in your storefront. International sporting goods retailer Decathlon does a great job of this by building interactive areas in each of its stores that allow customers to climb, ride, bounce, or jog around and test products before buying them.