By Marina Vaganova, Business Director, Russia
Mobile: +7 (926) 566-59-07
Lessons from shopping centres that succeed
With MAPIC around the corner, one of the leading international events for retail real estate, I felt it was the perfect time to delve into what I think makes shopping centres thrive.
Westfield London is a great example, being recognised as the best shopping centre in the UK. At 2.6 million square feet, it is the largest in Europe. We all know the challenges that high street retailers are facing. So beyond size, how does this giant mall earn over £1 billion a year?
There are three key pointers that can help shopping malls to stay relevant in this ever-changing retail landscape (see my previous blog following Russian Retail Week earlier this year).
1. Online and Off-line sales viewed as a whole
Achieving a shopping centre that views on- and off-line as a whole, from both a business planning and process perspective isn’t always the norm but Westfield is certainly achieving this through a skilful combination of their website, APP and instore experience.
Acutely aware of consumer attraction to online shopping, Westfield has purposefully designed a customer experience that drives traffic by highlighting the advantages of travelling to a shopping centre, providing everything from regular instore offers, events, entertainment, personal styling, mall maps and ticketless parking.
They have also worked hard to create an omnichannel customer experience, creating unity between their online and instore presence, giving consumers the ability to shop instore and via their website or a combination of both.
2. Investment in Technology – Artificial Intelligence
Recognising the importance of AI, Westfield have been early adopters in the use of this technology. Starting in July 2019, the shopping mall launched its first data-driven UK store, utilising AI to determine which 100 trending fashion items should be stocked in the boutique.
It doesn’t end there. They are already exploring ways to harness AI to enhance the customer experience. For example, AI Walkways that use information about what you brought recently to create shopping Fast Lanes; smart bathrooms that give personal hydration and nutritional tips tailored to each individual; and magic mirrors that enable the consumer to visualise what they will look like in a range of new products.
Innovations like this all help to create a more meaningful customer experience instore than online, keeping the consumers where they want them!
3. New marketing vision – three approaches
Undoubtedly the sheer scale and variety of retail on offer at Westfield London makes it stand out. They have successfully combined three main retail approaches to pull in the crowds.
Nothing is out of bounds, it is truly a destination in its own right, with children’s play areas, cinemas, events and restaurants. Westfield London is a thriving dynamic place, no matter day or night.
With around 450 stores it serves as an epicentre for all shopping needs, connecting the customer physically with the product.
Small and Highly specialised
With 450 stores, they still ensure they are catering for all markets. But they are also concentrating their offer, with the addition of specialised spaces such as ‘The Village’ – an indulgent space that houses over 35 boutiques from leading fashion houses to new designers.
Can these strategies be applied successfully to smaller shopping malls too?
We have put them into practice at a number of shopping malls, the latest example being our recently completed revitalisation programme at ILOT in Liège, Belgium, a 1990s shopping mall in need of an upgrade.
A strategic review led to a full repositioning exercise and the development of a full brand proposition. This has successfully revitalised and repurposed the environment to create a dynamic mixed-use destination that combines, food, leisure, commerce, retail and residential. A mix that appeals to a wide range of audiences.
At the same time, we have addressed the need for specialisation with new tenants strategically acquired to appeal to a younger audience. This includes the opening of Belgium’s first Burger King store and Decathlon opening a city centre store (a departure from their usual large scale out-of-town format).
Next week at MAPIC I am looking forward to meeting with fellow retailers and investors.
A bit like the shopping mall, where consumers and products meet, events like this give us a valuable opportunity to meet face to face. If you are heading to MAPIC, please get in touch – I’d love to meet for a chat.