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Hannu Käki is VP, Business Development at HyperIn in Helsinki. Credit: HyperIn

The Party Will Surely Resume – But Will You Be Ready to Dance?

Bigger leaps are being taken to lift us out of this pandemic. We still have a long way to go, the path ahead will be rocky, and the load we must carry is heavy. However, not everyone should expect the party to begin once we make our way out of the darkness. The beat of the drum and the rhythm of the song have changed.

By Hannu Käki

Tenant mix changes that began before the pandemic are still unfolding. Concepts continue to focus on experience, lifestyle, practicality, convenience, and accessibility/mixed-use. Visitors will soon be returning to shopping centers to socialize and spend time shopping together. That was what we observed prior to the pandemic.

Something is distinctly different, however. The chorus keeps reminding us about e-commerce and dynamically changing consumer behavior. It is like listening to Avicii’s “Wake me up” over and over again. As always, unmet demand will lead to an explosion. The same is true for this party. A number of new partygoers will be on the dance floor: Amazon, Alibaba, Zalando, Shopify, and others – some on your dance floor and some on the dance floor of a club near you.

How can you join the party?

Keep in mind that you still have a great entourage. Your shopping center manager and your marketing manager are your biggest supporters, and they have the most well-oiled hips in the city. Make sure that they are able to lead the party. The best things always happen when the group sticks together – not when we go solo, we are unmatched, or we wind up in the middle of unfortunate misunderstandings. Center management and marketing still represent the core players. They are the stars among the other partygoers – the tenants and visitors.

In practice, the basic setup will need to be organized. Commercial management, tenant engagement, security, and crisis management are the core areas when working together with tenants. Experience management and consumer engagement are the core areas when working with visitors. In terms of a shopping center party, those two core areas are, in essence, interconnected. You can either take my word for it or simply picture tenants celebrating together with consumers.

Five themes of shopping center management and their core functions. Credit: HyperIn

Far from the nostalgic days of waltzes and tangos, we now find ourselves in an era in which you have to be able to move quickly. Instead of solely focusing on opening ceremonies for new tenants, you now need to focus on organizing innovative campaigns and events that have inspiring narratives. You need to convince and empower your tenants to participate in such campaigns. In order to do that, you need to be 100% sure that you are reaching the right people at the right time, whether your tenant is a chain or a local entrepreneur.

Once you have engaged your tenants, everything else needs to go smoothly as well. You cannot afford to waste any time when sharing content across your communication channels. The worst thing that can happen is for some of the consumer channels to end up providing outdated information due to the fact that they are updated manually. There are many steps that need to be taken before a good campaign launched by a shopping center with 100+ tenants captures the attention of consumers. Tenants have to be informed about the concept, materials have to be collected in a timely manner, and the content has to be communicated via selected channels. In order for you to be able to focus more on the quality of the campaign and learn what the tenants really thought about it, the aforementioned steps need to proceed smoothly.

How do you ensure that everything is covered? As you may have guessed, that is precisely why your company needs to have the latest technologies. You either need to understand the technologies extremely well yourself and be equipped with high budgets for continuous planning and in-house development, or you can work with those industry-leading partners who understand your business quite well.

How can you dance along?

At HyperIn, one thing that we have learned is that there is a continuous need to emphasize the importance of cooperation between center management and marketing teams. While technology can be an enabler in this regard, a business target must be included as well.

In order to appeal to tenants, both teams need to have common goals: ensuring that tenants are informed, that their information is up to date, and that they are inspired by what is on the horizon. Once those things are covered, you will see visitors begin to realize how good the party is. Finally, you need to feel good about yourself, you need to have confidence in yourself, and you need to enjoy yourself.

About the Author
Hannu Käki is VP, Business Development at HyperIn, a retail real estate platform used at over 200 properties with R&D centers in Finland and Hong Kong, with authorized distributors in Europe, North America, the Middle East, and Asia.