By Ameen Ahsan
Officially shopping malls are defined as “one or more buildings forming a complex of shops representing merchandisers, with interconnected walkways enabling visitors to walk from unit to unit.” Unofficially, they are the heart and soul of communities, the foundation of retail economies, and a social sanctuary for teenagers everywhere.
A storm of global trends are coming together to cause malls to change the role they play in people’s lives. No longer are they primarily about shopping. Now, when consumers visit malls, they are looking for experiences that go well beyond traditional shopping.
The trends helping to create this change include changing demographics, such as an aging population and increased urbanization, which means more people living in smaller spaces and a greater need for public spaces in which to socialize and congregate. In this environment, malls offer a welcome watering hole, especially in cities where other public spaces are not safe. Sustainability concerns are causing some consumers to prefer mixed use developments where they can live, shop and work all within walking distance – instead of having to get into a car and drive to a crowded suburban mall.
And finally, the e-commerce revolution and the rise of digital technologies are fundamentally reshaping consumer expectations and shifting the function of stores toward useful and entertaining customer experiences. As these trends advance across the global stage, they are forcing mall operators to rethink how they conceive and operate their properties.
In the face of these considerable challenges, malls are seeking to stay relevant, drive growth and boost efficiency. We see successful players investing along three key fronts.
1. Differentiating the consumer offering, with a focus on experience and convenience.
Online shopping provides consumers with ultimate levels of convenience. Malls will never be able to compete with the endless product selection, price comparisons and always-on nature of online. Nor should they try. Instead, malls need to move in a different direction, away from commoditized shopping experiences and toward a broadened value proposition for consumers.
2. Transforming the mall experience by leveraging technology and multichannel strategies.
The digital transformation of retail is not all bad news for malls. On the contrary, it presents new opportunities for malls to engage consumers throughout their decision journeys.
3. Exploration of new formats and commercial real estate opportunities.
The most innovative malls today look nothing like their predecessors. Although location remains the key real estate consideration for malls, a differentiated design and structure is increasingly important. Open air malls go a long ways toward lending an atmosphere of a town center, especially when they incorporate mixed use real estate. Many of the malls being built in urban areas are open and fully integrated with the landscape.
Ameen Ahsan Strategy Consulting (AASC) provides Business Research & Management Consulting services for Shopping Malls, Commercial Complexes and Speciality Commercial Real Estate projects including feasibility studies, management plans, business model development across Kerala and GCC.
AASC is based at HiLite Business Park, Calicut (Kozhikode), Kerala. And serves clients across Kerala and Gulf (GCC) countries.
To know more about AASC services, please call +91-7558-900-800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org