By Jean-Christophe Bretxa
They turned 20 in 2000 or a bit later, and they are now in their 30s. In 2020, millennials will represent the dominant customer group for retail in terms of number as well as purchasing power. Our industry cannot afford to ignore them, even though they are challenging the traditional model, which was designed for baby boomers. It is not too late to adapt.
Mobility: The car has served as the instrument of freedom of the post-war period. “No parking, no business” was our mantra. That is no longer true; retail schemes must offer all alternatives, pedestrian paths, bicycle lanes and shelters, bus stops, metro stations, if applicable, and taxis (booths). Barriers and fences should be removed. Retail schemes have become part of each city.
Digitalization: Be visible on navigation systems, Google Maps, search engines, and social media. Offer free high-speed Wi-Fi that is easy to connect to. Make your offers visible on the web. A majority of customers prepare for their visits online. Stationary services must be combined with digital-based services. Omnichannel approaches are not only economically successful models – they also contribute to community building in a world of increasingly flexible lifestyles. Online retailers appreciate the increase in sales as a result of stationary points of contact in the catchment areas of the retail parks. This win-win situation for the parties involved results in the increasing popularity of the shopping destinations among customers, tenants, and investors.
Community: Activate and entertain the community both online and on site, for example, via commercial events, concerts, défilés, dance battles, video game competitions, flea markets, wine tasting, cooking sessions, children´s birthdays, etc. Give people thousands of reasons to join in and send pictures to your family/friends or post them on your blog/Instagram page. It will be of the utmost importance that retail parks connect to communities and become living complexes, like the cities themselves. Retail parks need to be family-friendly gathering places where people can enjoy themselves or simply relax. Our M1 shopping centers in Poland have set standards in this respect. Our M1 center in Kraków has recently been rewarded by the President of Kraków as a family-friendly place. The City of Kraków intends to select places in which families with children can actively participate in the socio-cultural life of the city.
Sustainability: It is not just about saving on electricity and heating. Offer smart green areas designed to present and protect diversity, produce organic vegetables (not necessarily on rooftops) in a permaculture scheme, produce bio honey, and protect insects and birds. Protect and store water for gardening use. Install PV panels to feed e-charging stations. Stationary shopping needs to be a pleasurable experience that makes it worth investing some of one’s valuable free time. With new, attractive, and bio-climatic architectural concepts, which make optimum use of space, it is all about creating a completely new shopping experience in an appealing and sustainable environment. Our award-winning M1 shopping center in Adana (Turkey) includes many public areas with integrated commercial zones. The symbiosis of indoor and outdoor spaces results in an exciting customer experience. Natural elements, green spaces, promenades, and playgrounds offer quality of life.
Ensuring convenient accessibility to the properties and, more importantly, continuously adapting to changing needs and demands when neighborhoods and customers change over time is essential.
At the end of the day, let us not forget the other generations. Baby boomers will appreciate well-designed parking lots, clean/maintained shopping trolleys, comfortable benches, good lighting, easy to find restrooms, and relevant offers. The customer is always at the heart of our activities.
Shopping destinations are formed around the customer, as well as tenant demand and need. Moreover, offering a variety of brands, a balanced mix of anchor tenants to mid-sized shops and pop-up stores, proper shop sizes featuring maximum efficiency, entertainment, convenient opening hours, and last but not least, an intelligent parking concept that is embedded in the local infrastructure, including public transportation, is key.
In the future, everything will revolve around using what already exists. All shopping destinations will have to adapt to changes and update their concepts and product ranges in order to remain in step with the times. In Germany, Metro Properties is currently revitalizing a retail park in Erfurt. TEC Erfurt will be conceptually redesigned in order to offer a contemporary shopping experience with a high quality of stay. The refurbishment will be completed in spring 2020.
Enduring success can only be guaranteed on the basis of change. We are closely monitoring the changing needs of our customers and the real estate sector. The main challenge is to not only create relevance, but to remain relevant. Rendezvous with Generation Z in 2040!