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It’s no news that the world of online shopping is growing, and the role of brickand-mortar retail destinations is at a critical turning point. The ACROSS Advisory Board discussion in Cannes shed light on a pressing issue – the need to re-educate consumers about the value of physical shopping experiences. Ben Chesser, CEO of Coniq, shares his view on the matter – a PropTech perspective.

In recent years, tremendous efforts have been invested in transforming the traditional mall experience. Shopping centres are no longer just places to make purchases, but have evolved into versatile, community-centric places that focus on nurturing relationships and creating memorable experiences.

For example, the foodcourts of old have been replaced with experiential and even fine dining experiences, offering customers a broader and more dynamic range of options. Similarly, outlets that once focused solely on discounted goods, have shifted towards providing memorable experiences, and a “day out” for family or friends. Rather than a destination for specific purchases, consumers now seek the allure of tangible products, the ability to test them in real life, and a place for leisure and enjoyment. As a result, it has become more important than ever for retail destinations to educate customers about the ongoing transformations happening in physical retail spaces, and simply to remind them of the joys of shopping in a modern mall.

Strategies for Brick-and-Mortar Success

The best-performing shopping destinations are all focused on what makes them different, and on how to bring that to life for shoppers:

The Space:

  • The biggest asset of every mall is the space itself – the architecture, the mix or brands, the experiences, and the energy of a busy space are your biggest attraction
  • Identify what will attract each target segment, and use personalized communications to remind people of what they love – whether it’s the easy access from the train, or the DJ playing music on Friday evening.

Tangible Product:

  • Physical stores offer immersive, sensory experiences, allowing consumers to see, feel, and enjoy a wide range of brands and products in a single visit.
  • While buying a TV online makes sense, trying on a new coat, or feeling the quality of a wellmade bag is an enjoyable experience for many and a motivator for in-store product discovery So use targeting in apps and emails to promote brands and products that stimulate shoppers to want to see and touch them

Community, friends, and family:

  • Shopping online is still very much a solitary activity, so take advantage of our desire to be social
  • Establishing a sense of community through events, workshops, and local partnerships transforms shopping into a social and cultural experience.
  • As we increasingly compete for a share of time, so encourage social activities- whether it’s meeting at the mall, sharing a meal, enjoying a movie, or shopping, the importance of fostering social connections is evident.
  • Friends and family rewards can be designed to reward groups for visiting and shopping together

Personalize Everything:

  • Your mall has so much to offer, but everyone’s tastes are different so targeting the right message to the right audience is critical Utilizing customer insights, data on which stores they visit, and how much they spend, or how long they stay in the mall, operators can now deliver totally customized and relevant content to their shoppers.

Loyalty Programs should be engaging:

  • Implementing a loyalty program can encourage repeat visits, offer unique rewards and exciting experiences that can transform occasional shoppers into loyal customers. Coniq’s client Apsys introduced a gamification campaign at their Beaugrenelle centre in Paris. Apsys leveraged its ‘MyBeaugrenelle’ program to drive member acquisition and engagement by encouraging shoppers to search the physical mall for hidden QR codes. When scanned, the codes granted access to a range of exclusive rewards. As a result, the center saw 341% more visits in October 2023 YoY.

Environmental Responsibility:

  • With increasing awareness of environmental issues, particularly concerning the unsustainable and environmentally unfriendly deliver-return mentality, consumers understand that purchasing in-store can prevent unnecessary waste.
  • Retailers have the opportunity to convey their dedication to eco-friendly practices, providing customers with a chance to contribute to a larger environmental cause through their purchases. Equally, shopping destinations can encourage customers to explore sustainable products, earn rewards for travelling to the center via public transport, or even take part in on-site eco-friendly activities like seed planting.

Digital Marketing:

  • Leverage social media, email campaigns, and loyalty platforms to communicate the unique experiences and benefits offered by physical stores.
  • Create engaging content to capture the attention of your customers. Use it to showcase mall events, promote specialized loyalty campaigns, or capture behind-the-scenes glimpses of new products.
  • These digital marketing strategies can generate excitement and curiosity among your shoppers and encourage them to visit the center.

In-Store Technology:

  • Incorporate technology seamlessly into the mall environment to improve communication and streamline the shopper experience.
  • Simplify the process for customers, making it easy to obtain what they want and discover new items, eliminating pain points.
  • In-store promotions using QR codes can bridge the gap between the physical and digital realms, providing customers with the convenience they desire, along with additional incentives or rewards.
  • Measure everything you can. Just like on a website, measuring what works and what does not for different target shoppers will help you to get better, and to focus your resources where they have the highest impact.

In conclusion, the resurgence of in-store shopping calls for a shift in the way malls engage their customers. Physical retail spaces are evolving into immersive hubs, emphasizing tangible products, social connections, and technology innovation. Embracing such diverse spaces, and leveraging strategies such as loyalty programs, community engagement, and environmental responsibility can crucially redefine the role of physical shopping. The first step has to be to continually remind customers about these ever changing shopping destinations, putting brick-and-mortar shopping destinations at the center of the dynamic retail landscape.

Ben Chesser

Ben Chesser is the CEO of Coniq and is a Member of the ACROSS Advisory Board.


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