Retail Trends

How Shopping Malls are not just Surviving but Thriving in Digital Age

Omnichannel is here to stay and the current digital transformation creates a golden opportunity for shopping malls to reinvent themselves and become more relevant to today’s consumers.

It is the age to create the perfect physical presence and then drive traffic through digital technologies. The confluence of physical and digital is called Phygital and I want to welcome all retailers to this  new era of Phygital.

Shopping malls today are boosting productivity and efficiency through a strategic review of the tenant mix, taking into account consumer needs and retailer economics. In the phygital era, the association of malls and retailers are getting redefined and here are a few of the ways they can do this:

Footfall-based billing
Malls are using AI-empowered tools and heat map to analyse the movement of traffic and charging premium based on the same. Some shopping malls are also charging shop owners on the basis of footfall they drive to the store.

Omnichannel fulfilment
With online and offline merging, some retailers are sharing their online revenues with the mall owners when the customer opts for shop online and pick up from the store. The offline pickup provides retailers with an opportunity to up-sell — see this earlier post. Shoppers want seamless and frictionless shopping experiences that straddle the offline and online worlds. Mobile apps are being used to provide unique suggestions to shoppers.

Malls become experience centers
Experience and convenience are key to transmforing the mall. The shopping malls are now the new entertainment destination. In  India, my home country, the millennial generation has  found shopping malls to be the only entertainment hub for them over the weekends in Tier I cities.

Real estate developers like Value Retail are creating destination retail shopping experiencea where tourists and local people can go for the day out,  shopping and enjoying a wide range of dining and entertainment choices.

Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates,  for example, has a skiing experience where consumers are spending time to reconnect with family. A lot of malls are encouraging sports activity for children and game zones within the malls to attract the whole family.

Intelligent signage
Digital signage technology has changed over the years. Many shopping malls are combining AI and deep learning with digital signage. AI-driven platforms capture large datasets and analyse them for retailers to take measurable actions. Digital signage also provides personalised and relevant content to attract more footfall to retail outlets.

Changed times require new skills
The hiring in malls has also changed over the last few years. The malls these days are hiring data analysts and data scientists. I heard recently that Dubai-based developer Majid Al Futtaim has recruited a team of neuroscience experts. They are studying how the conscious and unconscious brain activity drive sales within a mall.

Mall owners are living in a highly competitive environment with the growth of eCommerce. However, digital transformation, omnichannel and the adoption of AI and cognitive technologies will help them not only to sustain, but also provide higher value to both tenants and shoppers.

You can read a longer version of this article on my LinkedIn page and if you want to know more about the scenarios I depict above, please feel free to contact me via LinkedIn.

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