Retail has already entered a new phase, where more important tan brick and mortar is experience and love. The experience economy is here to stay.
The challenge is to be more attractive than Netflix, YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and the key is in the experiences.
A good, flexible, modern, client-centric, and innovative “first space” in a retail development or mall should prioritize creating a positive and memorable experience for visitors.
Together with the TOTEM Branding team we have created or transformed retail brands on all 5 continents, and the experience design work has been key to their success.
Cause landlords cannot rely only on the experience clients enjoy just inside their tenants shops. The total experience challenge is already here.
How to improve the experience of the first spaces with quick wins?
Start with more welcoming entrances; they should be inviting and easily accessible, with well-designed signage, landscaping, and lighting. Automatic doors, touchless entry systems, and welcoming staff can enhance the first impression. Not only communicate the prohibitions but also all the good things there are to enjoy inside.
Client-Centric Services. Offer concierge services, package storage and delivery (to your car or home), personal shopping/enjoyment assistance, and elderly and childcare facilities to cater to the needs and preferences of shoppers. Technology Integration to improve the overall experience.
Improve seamless navigation. The client journey is key. Wayfinding signage, interactive maps, and digital kiosks can help navigate while dress the place with good design. Help visitors easily find their way around. Their time is precious.
Align the aesthetic appeal with the brand personality. Incorporate modern and visually appealing design elements that reflect the mall’s brand and style. Design and art installations, greenery, unexpected features can add sexiness to the space. The more immersive, surprising and interactive, the better.
Fast fashion led the pace to a more flexible use of space. Identify design areas that can be easily adapted for various purposes, such as gathering moments, pop-up shops, news services or exhibitions, community events, workshops, and cultural activities in common areas to create a sense of belonging and encourage repeat visits.
You can add to all that, sustainable practices and materials in the design and operation of the first space. This can include energy-efficient lighting, recycling bins, and eco-friendly amenities. Also introduce unique amenities that simplify and enhance the shopping experience.
And accessibility to ensure that the first space is accessible to people of all abilities, including those with disabilities. Install ramps, elevators, and accessible restrooms as necessary.
A well-designed first space should aim to create a positive and lasting impression on visitors, making them feel comfortable, safe, and excited to explore the retail development or mall.
Regularly updating and innovating these spaces can help attract and retain customers in an increasingly competitive retail landscape.
Branded entertainment spaces, within retail
The concept of branded entertainment spaces is likely to become more prevalent within retail spaces in the future. This trend aligns with the broader shift towards creating unique and memorable experiences for shoppers and visitors.
Among some benefits on partnering with strong, admirable and loved brands, you can mention that branded entertainment spaces can set a retail establishment apart from competitors by offering a distinct and immersive experience. These spaces become attractions themselves, drawing in visitors who are interested in the brand or the experience it offers.
Entertainment spaces encourage visitors to spend more time in the mall. This extended dwell time provides more opportunities for shopping and engaging with the brand.
In addition, when brands create enjoyable and memorable experiences, it can lead to stronger emotional connections with customers. These connections often result in increased brand loyalty.
They can become a source of user-generated content. Visitors are likely to share their experiences on social media, promoting the brand to a wider audience, and help tell their brand story or convey their values and mission. This narrative can resonate with customers on a deeper level.
Choosing the right co-branding partner is crucial to maintaining consistency within a brand and the co-branded entity.
Selecting a co-brand that aligns with the values, purpose, and target audience of your brand ensures consistency. If there is a disconnect between the two brands, it can lead to confusion and alienation among customers.
Co-branding with a reputable and trusted partner helps maintain the quality and credibility associated with your brand. Customers are more likely to trust the co-branded entity if the partner is well-regarded, and viceversa. Customer perception of the co-brand can impact how they view your brand.
A well-executed co-branding strategy can lead to mutual success and stronger brand loyalty from customers who appreciate the partnership.
ROX & ROL
My perspective on embracing ROX (Return On Experience) and ROL (Return On Love) in addition to ROI (Return On Investment) reflects a growing shift in the way businesses, including retail brands, approach their strategies. Here’s a breakdown of these concepts:
- ROI (Return On Investment): While ROI is important, it focuses primarily on financial outcomes and doesn’t capture the full customer experience.
- ROX (Return On Experience): ROX is a metric that takes into account the overall experience a customer has with a brand or retailer. A positive ROX can lead to increased customer loyalty, word-of-mouth recommendations, and long-term revenue growth.
- ROL (Return On Love): ROL goes beyond transactional relationships and looks at the emotional bond between a brand and its customers. It measures how much customers genuinely love and identify with a brand. Brands that successfully cultivate love often benefit from passionate customer advocacy, which can result in increased brand loyalty, repeat business, and positive brand reputation.
Knowing a brand is not the same as feeling a brand. a well-known brand generates a behavior, a beloved brand a commitment.
The idea behind incorporating ROX & ROL alongside ROI is to recognize that financial returns are not solely dependent on the immediate transactional aspects of retail. A positive shopping experience and emotional connection can have a profound impact on a brand’s long-term success.
Many companies are so focused on the short term that they miss the opportunity to create long-lasting value. If successful companies have taught us anything, being a prisoner of the short term is a bad strategy. That those who have a vision of the future and build with a medium and long-term view are stronger, more resilient and are the ones who are winning the game.
The physical store is not going to disappear but rather it is going to be reinvented into something better.
We can read in the media how Gucci, Chanel and other luxury retailers splurge on american real estate pursuing new markets as their customers stay true to in-store shopping.
Luxury retailers have always been ahead of the game in personalised customer experience and has long been intrinsic to their strategy to attract and build customers loyalty.
This VIP treatment is a terrific motivator for an in-store visit.
Malls should be places where they offer more than just products for sale.
Evolving from a space of transactions to a space of relationships.
Evolving from commercial to social, leading to the rise of experiential retail.
This reminds us of the need to keep focusing on staff training.
Customer experience responsability is the whole organization.
All the brand actors will have no choice but to get to work on offering new -positive- emotions to thousands of people every day. This kind of organization relies on people, who are mobilized to cater to other people.
It’s all about people. And that’s where it gets complicated, or rather, where it gets exciting.
Key technologies, and data points, that will change how public/event spaces look/operate in the future
Regarding the future of public and event spaces will be significantly influenced by emerging technologies and data-driven insights, for sure.
But the higher the levels of digitization and automation, the greater the challenge will be to humanize the experience, the relationship and the value proposition.
We are already seeing how AR and VR technologies can transform visitors experience public and event spaces.
Facial recognition and biometrics. Voice and natural language processing. Contactless technology. AI-powered systems.Drones and robotics. Blockchain. Predictive analytics. Immersive audio. Health and safety monitoring.To name a few.
These technologies, combined with data-driven insights, will enable public and event spaces to become more adaptable, personalized, and responsive to the needs and preferences of visitors. They will also play a crucial role in optimizing operational efficiency, enhancing security, and creating immersive and memorable experiences that go beyond traditional expectations.
Public spaces of the future will likely prioritize surprise, experience, safety, sustainability, and engagement through the strategic integration of these technologies and data points.
Flexibility in space design
In a retail landscape where many shopping malls and retail spaces share similar offerings, creating a distinctive and memorable customer experience becomes a powerful differentiator.
Here are ways in which experience, surprise, outstanding services, and the “wow factor” can be game changers for shopping malls. Aligning cutting-edge architectural design and interior aesthetics with the brand DNA and personality can make a mall visually striking and draw visitors in.
The physical environment is key in the phygital overall experience.
Almost everyone in the industry agrees about flexibility in space design, it’s just that a minority puts it into practice. Those in charge continue to see retail through an Excel cell and not through the minds and hearts of customers. Those who have understood it are seeing their income statement grow.
Some initiatives include adaptive store layouts that can be reconfigured to accommodate different brands, pop-up shops, and changing product assortments. This adaptability allows shopping centers to respond quickly to market trends and tenant needs. Shopping centers may also offer shared spaces that multiple brands can use for temporary activations or events.
This sharing of spaces can help maximize occupancy and create a dynamic atmosphere.
Why is it so complicated to accept short-term leases? Customizable pop-up shops, seasonal retailers, and emerging brands often prefer shorter leases that reduce risk and provide agility in a rapidly changing retail landscape. Future shopping centers may allocate more space for experience-focused zones, such as entertainment areas, food halls, and interactive displays.
Brand Experience Centers, allowing brands to showcase their products/services and engage with customers in immersive ways.
One of the key strengths of malls and physical retail spaces in the face of growing digital competition is their ability to offer experiences and services that cannot be easily replicated in front of a screen.
Providing a hands-on, tangible shopping experience where customers can touch, feel, try on, and interact with products before making a purchase. This sensory experience is difficult to replicate online.
Social experience where friends and family can shop together, dine, and enjoy entertainment. This social aspect is a fundamental part of the mall experience.
Immediate gratification for shoppers can obtain their purchases immediately rather than waiting for shipping. Try before you buy and malls provide this opportunity. Malls can host events, concerts, exhibitions, and other forms of entertainment that you can share in real life and in real time creating a vibrant and engaging atmosphere.
And the list goes on and on, malls often feature a wide range of dining options, from fast food to gourmet cuisine, some offering visitors a diverse culinary experience. Some malls incorporate fitness centers, spas, and wellness services, encouraging a holistic approach to well-being.
In many malls shoppers can interact with knowledgeable staff who can provide advice, recommendations, and assistance, which can be particularly valuable for complex or high-value purchases.
They also offer convenient return and exchange processes, allowing customers to resolve issues with their purchases in person.
Retailers can use mall spaces as showrooms for products, allowing customers to see and touch items before making an online purchase.
While there is no single set of statistics that can universally quantify the impact of offline experiences on online sales, various studies and reports have highlighted the significant influence that in-person interactions and experiences can have on digital purchase behavior.
When a client asks me the cost of doing something new, I always answer with a question: what is the cost of not doing something new?
We can summarize this in: continuous innovation. Staying agile and open to new trends and technologies to consistently refresh the shopping experience and adapt to changing consumer expectations.
Shopping malls can transform from generic retail spaces into vibrant, engaging, and memorable destinations that cater to the evolving desires and expectations of modern shoppers. The goal is to create an environment where visitors not only shop but also enjoy a meaningful and unforgetable experience that keeps them coming back.