It’s no secret that in the U.S. and U.K., shopping centers and malls are struggling to remain relevant to the very consumers who once flooded their corridors, eager for a day spent shopping. Today, as anchor department stores have scaled back, closing outlets that were once the lifeblood of these centers, many developments have been unable to recover.
This past May, as I do every year, I attended London’s Retail Expo trade show to host a panel discussion on this very topic. With the help of two retail veterans, Kathryn Malloch, Head of Customer Experience at London-based Hammerson, and Sue Shepherd, General Manager of London Designer Outlet (LDO), we explored the ways in which smart retailers are innovating to deliver the experiences today’s consumer demands.
“We simply have to rise to the challenge of consumers wanting to do more rather than buy more,” said Malloch during the discussion. “Those retailers that don’t change and adapt will certainly be in trouble.”
Both Malloch and Shepherd agreed that a curated, nontraditional tenant mix and experiential activations can go a long way toward re-engaging the shopper. “We’ve started seeing how we can support smaller, more local brands with pop-ups or shorter lease options that enable customers to shop with brands [like digital natives] they wouldn’t normally expect to see at a shopping center,” explained Malloch.
At LDO, an urban outlet center in North London’s Wembley Park, customer-focused innovation also means addressing consumer pain points, like what to do with all of the shopping bags you’ve accumulated during a day of retail therapy.
Said Shepherd: “Because we know people visit Wembley as part of a day out to see a concert, we’ve recently introduced a service that allows them to hand in all their shopping and have it delivered to their home address by the time they get back from their evening out.” She said that after debuting the new amenity, the center saw, on average, a five times increase in basket size.
Insights like these are critical to retailers looking to the future of the shopping mall in hopes of evolving to not only meet, but anticipate and exceed, the needs of the consumers of tomorrow.