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The New Role of Malls for Retail: Breaking the Myth

By Anabell Trejo - Getin
CEO and CO-Founder


By Anabell Trejo | CEO - Mon, 07/26/2021 - 13:05

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In 2021, the pandemic caused a readjustment in different aspects of the economy and retail was no exception. This year is key to establishing the foundations for new retail in 2022.

Some activities had to be transformed and other trends that were popular before the pandemic became more relevant. The clearest example is the advance in the use of e-commerce for retail brands.

In other countries, the importance of technological inclusion for traditional industries like retail may be a fairly common practice but in regions like Mexico and Latin America, it could be considered innovative.

This new post-pandemic context pushes the accelerator for malls to take the big leap to adapt to the customer’s new cultural and social behavior.

2021 has become a breaking point in the history of retail, where although malls and brick and mortar stores are not going to disappear, the role of the shopping center is changing faster and faster. Now, they are being designed to serve as a space of socio-cultural activities and consumerism is taking a back seat.

In recent years, some shopping malls have had recreational outlets occupying 60 percent of the mall’s space: amusement parks, water parks, theaters, cinemas, aquariums, escape rooms and restaurants. Only 40 percent or less has been destined for retail stores.

Given this scenario, it is necessary to break some myths, while new paradigms also need to be adopted by the retail industry.

The most important thought that retailers should leave behind is the consideration that with a greater flow of people in the mall, the sales of each store will also grow.

This belief has become one of the main mistakes for the industry. This dynamic worked a few decades ago when malls served as a necessity to establish a connection between consumers and brands. Nowadays, this link is already created in other ways, such as social media and digital channels.

The big question for retailers is, if I can no longer count just on the benefits offered by having a store within a mall, should I invest in the growth of other channels?

There is no certain answer to this scenario but what we have seen in recent years is that brands have made an effort to incorporate a proactive bond with consumers through omnichannel resources, and it seems to work.

Today, retail brands compete directly with all the options that a mall offers. The family budget has to be divided between recreational activities and real shopping needs.

What is a real fact is that as time goes by, the options and variants that intervene in the final purchase decision are increasing. This makes the operating and sales process more complex.

The availability of a brand or its products in digital channels is creating more informed shoppers, which is pushing even the most traditional retailers to use technological tools to take advantage.

This context requires that internal sales processes be reinforced and this is where information is the most important bargaining chip this year.

The methodology that will help the adaptation to the new role that shopping centers have should be to learn to measure the performance indicators of each point of sale and based on the data, implement strategies that are supported by technology to achieve results.

The retail industry is moving faster than it might seem and this is pushing brick-and-mortar stores to adapt quickly to their shoppers’ trends. And this is where information and technology gain importance to help brands take a more proactive role in connecting with their buyers.

Just as shopping centers are evolving to continue attracting users, brands must implement a re-engineering of their processes to be aligned with their consumers and discard old beliefs that worked in the past but no longer apply today.

This is the only way that brands will be able to get the best out of their physical stores within the malls. It is necessary to lay the foundations today, along with technological inclusion, to gain market share in the medium term.

Photo by:   Anabell Trejo

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