Shopping Centres of the Future – From Russia with Love

By Marina Vaganova, Business Director, Russia

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I have just returned from Russian Retail Week, an international business and government forum of 6,000 professionals, gathered together to address key challenges and define the future direction of the retail market.

Discussing the future of shopping malls, I was fortunate to share the stage with professionals such as:

  • RBC Realty Chief Editor – Ignat Bushukhin
  • Cushman & Wakefield Russia Partner and Head of Strategic Consulting – Julia Tokareva
  • Perekrestok Business Development Director – Julia Lazareva
  • AFIMALL Marketing Director – Аnna Petukhova
  • Watcom Group Managing Partner – Alexey Knyazev
  • BlankArchitects Managing Partner – Magda Chikhon

As part of the lively debate, we identified three key pointers for shopping malls, given the ever-changing retail landscape.

1. On-line and Off-line sales – the vital link

Given the importance of omnichannel customer experiences, it’s important to not overlook the business processes behind them. It’s vital to put in place robust processes that enable the planning and evaluation of the marketing effort across all channels.

Many retailers and shopping centres invest millions in internet sales. In addition to online sales, the key to success is understanding how to convert this online investment into physical footfall and offline sales.

The walls between on- and off-line need to be broken down and viewed as a whole from a business planning and process perspective.

2. Investment in Technology – Artificial Intelligence

Retailers are already starting to use Artificial Intelligence to optimize their advertising and deliver their loyalty programmes. Very soon it will also be possible for AI to be used as part of warehouse management systems (as Alibaba and Amazon are already doing).

Shopping malls will also have to adapt to new reality. Big players have already started to move forward using AI. For example Mall of America develops its chat bot based on artificial intelligence, which unites the physical space and the digital ecosystem of the mall. In the physical environment customers are met by Pepper Robot, which can tell you about planned events, show directions to a specific shop or suggest gift ideas. Customers can interact with the chatbot anywhere, via the website, mobile app, Facebook page and Amazon Alexa.

3. New marketing vision

To thrive, a successful shopping centre must be innovative and offer a clear vision. We’ve identified three main approaches that will help to pull in the crowds:

  1. Destination – a dynamic place, typically with a strong food and leisure offer
  2. Logistics hub – serving as a key element of the retailers’ logistics systems to physically deliver goods into the hands of the consumer
  3. Small and Highly specialised – with a strong focus on a particular market, target audience or product

Any of these can be deployed as a singular strategy or will work equally well if combined.

We work with stores such as Rive Gauche and entire shopping malls Mander Centre to deliver innovative retail solutions in many different parts of the world.

Email me for an informal chat on how we might be able to help you to revitalise your retail offer.