The future of shopping malls

Consumers and consumption are changing. Is there still room for large shopping malls? What changes should we expect for the future?

A model on the horizon?

Once upon a time there was the Shopping Mall, with its shopping arcade, large hypermarkets with advantageous offers and fast food chains to space out shopping with snacks and quick meals. Bigger and bigger structures, immune to the oddities of the climate because there were mainly indoors, with stores dedicated to the most popular and loved brands.

Once upon a time... because now there's less and less. In the homeland of the Shopping Mall, the United States, analysts agree that they expect a 25% drop in the short term. This means there will be almost 300 shopping malls less on American soil by 2022. What is going on?

New consumers are looking for new experiences

The main pull of the Shopping Mall was the presence of big brands, the high assortment of products and the best prices. Today, however, the big brands are everywhere with their stores and when they are not there, you can always just shop on their sites. Even the assortment is no longer a key factor: online warehouses are even more stocked than before. The price factor? It's difficult to compete with internet OmniStores, which are more likely to offer discounts and shorter product delivery times.

Is digital shopping the competition to beat? Not necessarily: the digital world can become an ally when relaunching the shopping mall, but it is necessary to put it at the service of a new idea, or rather, of a new experience. Because what technology cannot do is replace experience: feeling a fabric between your fingers, weighing gym equipment, assessing the comfort of a mattress... today's consumers are looking for new experiences, new ways of being, new products designed specifically for them. These are some of the ongoing trends of a transformation that the sector will have to take into account and that we have tried to summarize in five points.

1. From non-places to places to experience

Traditional shopping centers are all the same, places without a true identity, aimed solely at purchases. So, to encourage customers to go to them, we need to get rid of this idea: they must become spaces in which it is pleasant to pass time, regardless of the shopping experience. Shopping Malls are being built, trying to structure themselves mainly as meeting places, offering events, temporary restaurants where you can taste haute cuisine dishes, concerts, outdoor green areas, relaxation areas, exhibition areas, gyms. The ease of parking and the location in strategic junctions, together with a modern and efficient IT infrastructure, make the new shopping malls the ideal location for new work environments, co-working spaces, offices. Technology is a fundamental aid in this transformation from a non-place to a pole of attraction.

2. From mass consumption to individual experience

Purchases are increasingly oriented towards the experience: travel, concerts, spa stays, courses... The consumer is looking for something that suits his tastes, he loves customization. The mass-market proposal of one size fits all has lost its appeal: we tend to buy the goods we need every day more and more to buy online, which saves us time and energy. With less and less time, we prefer to go out for new and different experiences: the new Shopping Malls offer cooking classes, gyms, yoga classes, meetings with experts. They allow us to retain customers and increase their loyalty, in order to make them more inclined to purchase. Digital Environments help you get to know your visitors better, making the offer closer to their true desires.

3. From habit to discovery

Why go to the Shopping Mall if you find the same products online or in the single-brand store? Today's consumer is looking for new and exclusive products that are not for sale anywhere. That's why in the latest generation shopping malls there are temporary shops, which offer their items for a limited time, before leaving room for other brands. In this way, the manufacturers have the opportunity to meet and get to know their buyers in a physical store, without the burden of keeping it open all year. The mall takes advantage of this variety and continuous novelty while attracting the public and stimulating attendance. In this context, Digital Signage is a strategic factor thanks to its possibilities of communicating in real time and creating engagement.

4. From private to collective

Online purchase is a private experience, where the consumer only interacts with his own device. In the physical store, on the other hand, he has the opportunity to interact with other people, share experiences and knowledge, have a pleasant time. The purchase becomes the consequence of the pleasure of being among friends in a pleasant and stimulating environment, pushing the consumer to spontaneously relaunch the experience on social media, maybe even on the big screens of a Video Wall present in the shopping gallery.

5. From quantity to quality

Today, the consumer has a different sensitivity towards his own well-being. There is more attention to physical fitness, to a healthier lifestyle, starting with nutrition. Even the catering offer in the new Shopping Malls is different: not only snacks or quick meals, but also haute cuisine, tastings, personalized menus that transform the stay into a continuous discovery to be enjoyed with friends. Technology allows you to extend the experience on your smartphone, for example you could link purchases to a collection point or communicate promotions, discounts and news directly to the consumer.

In conclusion

Technology is not an opponent to be defeated, but rather, it is a powerful tool if put at the service of a new concept of Shopping Mall. The crisis of that consumption model is an opportunity for growth for those who can accept the ever more rapid change in lifestyles and purchasing habits.

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