Today, physical stores are competing for shoppers who have fallen in love with the speed and convenience of e-commerce.
Electronic devices make it quick and easy for consumers to search for whatever they want and have products delivered to their homes, while also serving up social media channels and other online resources that stimulate and inspire the shopping journey.
At the same time, shopping centre visitors have been shifting their spending habits toward experiences, preferring leisure, F&B and even tasks and services over acquiring things.
Other trends, including a concern for greater differentiation, interest in value and off-price retail, plus shifting demographics, mean that shopping centres are forced to redefine their centrality in an increasingly crowded marketplace.
Sonae Sierra has adopted a strategy to leverage the successful performance of its centres, while taking advantage of the opportunities presented by the omnichannel trend.
While today’s consumers increasingly receive inspiration and the impulse to shop day and night through digital devices, key messages driving physical footfall persist. Social and community aspects, the search for in-person expertise and loyalty to local trade all help motivate the physical shopping journey.
Since the impact of e-commerce is highly varied across a geographically diverse shopping centre portfolio, frequent research and data collection is also vital. Different territories are subject to a range of forces influencing e-commerce penetration, meaning that solutions must be tailored on a country-by-country and even asset-by-asset basis.
Varying demographics, catchment areas and cultural factors all matter when optimising a centre for the digital dimension. Similarly, retail segments are diversely affected in different geographies in terms of the online shift, with electrical goods and fashion amongst the most vulnerable categories.
Although e-commerce penetration continues to grow rapidly, shopping centres are still a highly valid retail channel, and will continue to remain relevant for the foreseeable future.
Tailored, experience-led shopping centres, providing novelty and serving a range of needs – from retail to leisure and services – are best-placed for success. Equally, shopping centres which support their tenants’ omnichannel strategies are likely to attract the strongest brands and inspire customer loyalty.
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