Retail centre visitors want to come home from their shopping expedition with a feeling and a memory – as well as the goods they’ve purchased.
When it comes to customer engagement, shopping centres have come a long way from the rewards-based events represented by a line of trestle tables and an energetic spruiker giving away free cooking utensils.
Community, along with celebrating a sense of occasion, are the key drivers of shopping centre design and management today.
This enhanced retail experience that the centres are providing is called experiential shopping. And some of the events (called activations in the industry) are so sophisticated that you’d be forgiven for thinking entertainment was the main purpose.
Observers attribute the trend towards experiential shopping to the challenge posed by the internet. Leanne Liu, Managing Editor, Shopping Centre News, says online retail spending is equivalent to about 9 per cent of sales at bricks and mortar stores, according to the NAB Online Retail Sales Index.
She says centres around Australia have responded by analysing every part of their operations.
“The emphasis on placemaking across the industry has been evident through installation of art displays, interactive play areas, rest zones and other uses for shopping centres such as shared work spaces and outdoor entertainment spaces.”