Christine Hager, Chair of the German Council of Shopping Centers e.V. (GCSC) Image: redos

Service quality is the measure of the future

The three mega-topics of the European society, “globalization”, “digitization” and “demographic development,” are now known to all. Only the resulting changes for the respective business models are still unclear in many places.

By Christine Hager

This is no surprise in itself. And yet it’s amazing what a different level of use companies are making of it. The shopping center industry and, at the end of the day, the entire retail sector will be extremely hard hit by these enormous social changes, or it is already noticeable today.

The constantly growing pure online trade wins over customers by a high measure of service. He translates “globalization” into the possibility of ordering goods from all over the world conveniently and quickly from home. “Digitization” enables online retailers to constantly see what customers want at what time and gives them the possibility to communicate with customers day and night as well as the customer with them. All this also benefits the online trade in order to react to demographic changes in an exemplary way, e.g. delivery service and online consulting. If we look at the purely stationary trade at the same time, the differences – even better deficits – quickly become visible.

Let me make it clear right away: it is not about pointing your finger at the competition and moaning. It’s about identifying the source of success and applying it to your own business model. For me, the term “service” is the key word. From the consumer’s point of view, the convenience created by online retailing is perceived as the high service quality of the retailers active there. The stationary trade will remain almost without chance if it does not recognize that consumers expect more and more of this service level everywhere. And if we take a critical look at ourselves, we often have to admit that possible convenience strongly influences purchase decisions already. There must be a close union of the players in the stationary retail trade in order to find the necessary answers and, above all, apply them.

A “digital mall”, in which the merchandise management system of the tenants shows 1 to 1, what I can buy either stationary or online in my mall is the future. Touch and buy or see and order–the omnichannel to the consumer enables a 360-degree service level and thus the basis for further successful business models. To make this possible, the retail real estate industry and the retail trade must develop a joint business model that is closely interlinked. To achieve this, boundaries must be crossed and conceptual barriers torn down. We will make it and that is why I am convinced that shopping centers and large retail properties are the omnichannel stars of the future!

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