Shopping Malls: Just Dust in the Wind
This is a guest blog from guest author, Evan Sharples.
Quoting the band Kansas may be the best way to establish the current irrelevancy of shopping malls. Once the backbone of American shopping, retail stores were combined into these compact areas or buildings to service an entire community. It was life before online shopping, it was a life where mom could make a living by just working at one of these stores. Now with the introduction of e-commerce, we see the original purpose of these malls have been replaced with a better solution. This transition didn’t occur overnight, but we have seen the effects increase rapidly in the past few years. eBay was the first big name, then Amazon came around, then all sorts of websites started selling online. In order to compete, retail stores started to merge their services to online.
Thinking about why online sales have made such an impact, its not only just convenience. Think about the rent and utilities that go into running a department store. Now add in the employee costs. Most important of all is advertising. Online advertising that can connect you from an ad to an online shopping cart just destroys all other alternatives of efficiency.
Obviously, this whole transition has been under all of our radar and recently with the COVID-19 virus, we witnessed a spike in the phasing out of these malls. From the looks of it, shopping malls need to change their strategy quick because the chickens are about to come home to roost.
So, in order to prevent these malls from becoming abandoned fortresses for paintball battles we need to understand what our consumers value in going to the mall. Going back to the roots of malls, most people go to the mall for the experience not just to shop. It’s treated almost like an event and that is exactly how they should sell it. How they can do this is by making it a concert venue, holding scheduled events, heritage related celebrations. More fuel for their strategy would be to make the stores smaller and more generalized. People understand the maze of shopping and this adds much complexity where they are offered the simplest alternative with online shopping. Another idea from my personal idea bank would be to play off the ideas of Plato’s Closet and Dick’s Warehouse and sell discounted clothes that are not available online. This will provide both deals and exclusiveness that will separate online from retail.
The extinction of malls can be prevented. Relevancy has always been the true indicator of success and the best way to spark plug that would be to create an experience. An in-person experience that creates an event that will inspire consumers to make that journey to there local mall. Holidays are ahead of us shopping malls, you have been warned.
Do you agree that shopping malls are on the way out? Do you prefer in store or online shopping? Let us know in the comments or DM us on social media.