Shopping centres are evolving and retail analytics can help
Faced with new shopper behaviours, a dramatic shift to ecommerce in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and rising operational costs, shopping centre owners are realising evolution is vital to future success — even as many close and new openings are stalled.
The shopping centre view today is much different than a year ago and is expected change again in the near future. In Europe, total retail space may fall by around 10% according to Capital Economics. In the US, just looking at malls, Coresight Research estimates that numbers could fall by 25%. In the Middle East, a spokesperson for franchise operator Alshaya, which owns the regional rights to nearly 90 brands including Starbucks and H&M, said it will take a while for mall traffic to rise to pre-COVID-19 levels. This contrasts with positive predictions right up until the start of global lockdowns.
Shopping centre owners and their retail tenants have been embracing the growth of ecommerce. Reuters reported that Majid Al Futtaim is now offering stock from its homewares stores onto the Carrefour shopping marketplace. And Emaar Malls helped its tenants at Dubai malls to place products on Namshi, an e-commerce website it owns.
Shopping centre owners are also developing smart supply chains that help anticipate and react to changing consumer demands, particularly for click-and-collect. Developments such as Dubai CommerCity — an ecommerce ecosystem dedicated to helping global and regional brands set up and operate their e-commerce businesses — recognise that shopping today is as much about buying as experiences. CommerCity will enable shopping centre owners to fulfil online orders without the need to add facilities themselves.
In other parts of the world, COVID-19 has had different impacts. For instance, shopping malls in Singapore were receiving a huge boost in traffic from mainland Chinese tourism. This has now almost entirely vanished as tourist travel is now restricted. Singapore is the second most visited destination across Asia Pacific – with visitors largely from mainland China – and ranks first in visitor spending according to Mastercard.
Beyond responding to immediate dynamics, shopping centre owners are also taking a longer term view. Retail space is being restructured and redeveloped to create new and improved mixed-use schemes. Essential retail like grocery will continues to perform well as convenience remains the top driver for consumers, but more concepts such as health & beauty are being added as consumers take greater interest in their fitness and wellbeing.
In thier latest report on retail analytics for malls and large venues, Sensormatic Solutions emphasises the role of data and analytics in not only driving many of the innovations these venues are making, but also helping enable them to act on the changing behaviours of customers.
Shopping centre owners and their retail tenants can use richer data to validate decisions across the estate and help:
- Measure the success of innovations being introduced to shopping centres and stores in terms of uplifts in traffic, dwell time and sales-per-shopper
- Understand traffic peaks – by hour, day, week and month – so marketing and operational planning is in tune with the ebb and flow of shoppers
- Optimise the tenant mix by zone by understanding traffic hotspots and flow
- Create memorable and engaging experiences by analysing visitor loyalty and behaviours over time
- Build fair and sustainable leasing models through traffic projections
Read their report to discover how shopping centre owners are partnering with retail entrepreneurs, business leaders and investors to test new concepts, establish technology and infrastructure that serve omnichannel retailers, and examine how they are evolving the offering to best serve the future of commerce.
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