The retail experience will rely more on the experience than the retail.
Sales are for physical stores.
I’m sitting in the cafeteria of a mall as I write this. It’s one of the many owned by Cadillac Fairview that have converged on sleek styling. Marble counters, faux succulents, LED globe chandeliers. It’s “Boxing Week” so everything is on sale. Some places have large red “50% off signs”, others have lines out the door with flyers. The Apple Store discounts nothing but is still packed.
In one corner, Forever 21 is shuttered. It didn’t make it. Other stores, likely, are just like Forever 21 but just with a longer runway. They still rely on goodwill created over decades that is slowly eroding along with their bank balances.
However, there is still a future here. It’s much more experiential. Especially because the weather is usually miserable here from October to April, malls provide a great place to congregate and spend an afternoon. A few ways that retail in the mall can fight off Amazon or other online retailers is:
- Offer differentiated products
- Make them exclusively available in store
- Offer discounts only at physical locations
- Create interactive spaces that use all senses
- Create events in store
Many retailers are already adopting these and seem to be thriving. Those that aren’t might still see inbound foot traffic, but less people walking out of the stores with bags.