Shopping centres are moving to become more “experiential” after a report that investigated the digital future of retail.
Centres involved in the research, including London’s Westfield, say that shopping is no longer about simply buying things, it is all about the wider experience.
The study, Retail’s Digital Future, was a joint venture between the British Council for Shopping Centres (BCSC) and City law firm Addleshaw Goddard.
According to the report, new technologies such as smartphones, smartwatches and beacons allow consumers to be tracked and harvesting of information about their shopping habits.
It also claims that emerging technologies such as mood-reading dresses, augmented reality mirrors and 3D printing may also help to bring shoppers into physical stores.
Other ways retailers could benefit from the arrival of digital include implementing interactive mapping services able to provide tailored personal shopping guides and recommendations laced with vouchers.
BCSC and Addleshaw Goddard claim they can become “test beds for tech innovation,” but warn operators must always comply with data protection laws and privacy.
The changing landscape of shopping
“The recession and move to online shopping clearly meant both retailers and landlords were forced to change their approach,” claimed partner at the law firm, Jane Hollinshead.
“New technology takes this to a whole new level and what we’re seeing is a genuine blurring of online and offline shopping,” she added.
Retail’s Digital Future claims that the fundamentals of retail property will always be driven by rents generated via space.
However, it adds that the lines between the landlord and retailer’s domains are becoming increasingly blurred as increased collaboration between the two and “innovators” will lead to a greater focus on experience and proper physical shopping into a new era.