A third of total retail sales will be online by 2030, says report

As e-commerce takes a larger piece of the retail pie, as much as one-third of total retail sales will be online by 2030, according to a new report. With swift and aggressive innovation and a customer focus, shopping centres can transform into consumer engagement spaces, mixed use offerings designed to meet the needs of new and future generation of shoppers.


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Today’s world offers malls an opportunity to turn a new page, says a new A. T. Kearney research. The study suggests that the industry can have a robust future provided it evolves and successfully harnesses three change drivers – the human element, technology and commercial considerations. It has listed 4 visions of the future of shopping centres that can help transform them into unique, 21st century consumer engagement spaces.

The first vision of the report is to turn the shopping centres into destination centres, large spaces centred around a large attraction. Instead of a retailer, the anchor here is a compelling social experience which provides immersive, experience-based entertainment. It could also be home to specialty anchors like Bass Pro Shop, Lowe’s, or REI, where discovery, education, and experience are key components of the brand experience. Destination centres in operation today include Xanadu in Spain, the Mall of the Emirates in Dubai, and the American Dream Center under construction in New Jersey and Miami.

The second vision entails setting up innovation centres, smart spaces where pooled tenant data is used to create targeted offerings. Anthropologists, cultural psychologists, and mall ethnographers will constantly observe, record, and analyse shoppers as they move from space to space and provide tenants with real-time feedback, notes the report. In this format, beta testing becomes business: a certain percentage of space may be designated for test stores that use the data gathered on new concepts. For their part, consumers will have the opportunity to test new technologies, access experts, and perhaps trade personal shopping and product evaluation data for discounts on new items or new products.

Retail spaces can also be turned into values centres, spaces that draw their identity and tenants from consumers’ shared values, says the report. Values centres are anchored by an idea, not a retail nameplate. It could be political, such as animal rights, or an ethnic or community identity, such as a sports team, and all tenants could provide an experience that ties into this. Dynamic pop-up locations and virtual or group showrooms could allow local merchants to showcase their offerings on a rotating basis and provide local artisans and designers the opportunity to interact with customers, co-design products, and manufacture them in real time.

The final vision in the report includes turning shopping centres into ‘retaildential’ spaces, retail-housing lifestyle centres that target specific demographics. These spaces target a specific consumer segment, say, young urban hipsters, single-and-staying-that-way 40-somethings, or retirees. These highly curated ‘life-stage centres’ will offer a demographic-specific and appropriate set of retail, restaurants, entertainment, and services. For example, in senior-focused malls, senior housing would be augmented by medical services, pharmacies, exercise facilities, lawyers specialising in age-specific law, accountants specialising in estate planning, and community rooms.

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