Nestled in a park-like atmosphere with environmentally friendly features, LED parking lot lights, and wide, landscaped walking paths, the mall of the future will provide more than the traditional variety of stores from which to shop and a crowded (fast) food court. In order to attract people from outside the comfort of their homes where often they can shop for less without getting dressed, malls will lean on creating fun experiences and bringing convenience through technology and mixed use options, while also capturing data on consumer behavior to ever-improve the mall-going experience.
Chasing customer behavior
China’s “smart” shopping centers are reportedly heading our way. Business Insider reports of innovations like touch-screen platforms and face-recognition technology to collect and analyze customer purchases becoming a staple in malls in China. Ralph Lauren also is testing an interactive mirror that would allow shoppers to alter lighting or browse other items and sizes all from behind a pulled curtain in an in-store dressing room. These types of accommodations mainly answer the call of Millennials and Generation Z who have grown up in a technological age with high demand for digital innovation and interaction while shopping at a mall.
Surgery, Spas, and Starbucks
Next Gen malls will reflect the needs and demands of an aging population as well. With the healthcare industry moving away from large medical complexes, there is a growing trend for urgent care centers, pediatricians, and other providers to set up shop right where their patients are shopping. Although the idea has yet to convince the majority of CRE landlords to embrace non-traditional tenants, industry leaders expect the trend to mainstream within the next ten years (Bloomberg, 2016).
Even In an effort to remain competitive, Macy’s is considering adding spa services to its stores, according to a recent CNET article. James Tenser, a retail professional at VSN Strategies is quoted in the same article, saying “If you create experiences that people want to have, people will want to visit.”
The same holds true for the mall as a whole. It will be all about the experience. and malls of the future will be pleasing to the eye, designed with convenience, community, and customization in mind.
Mixed use goes mixed reality
Another significant feature of the mall of tomorrow will be the marriage of the digital and physical worlds to connect consumers to convenience and retailers to the hearts and minds of their patrons. Here, again the future mall will seek to capture data on consumer behavior in order to cyclically develop and deliver products, services, and experiences to meet changing consumer expectations. Deloitte envisions the mall of the future as “a carefully curated shopping experience, driven by technology and analytics, and designed to enhance customer experience while boosting foot traffic . . . the convergence of the digital and physical spheres to deliver on the OmniChannel experience in novel ways."
At one time in its infant stages, technology and the online shopping world seemed to have put a chokehold on shopping centers and malls. However, the winds of change are returning to bricks and mortar stores. The “look and feel” of the malls of the future promise excitement, interaction, and convenience for tomorrow’s shoppers.