Malls and retailers need to re-invent and rapidly transform to stay relevant
Posted on 2021 Sep,29

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The pandemic has fast-tracked changes in customers’ shopping behavior from in-store to online and is shifting their expectations from retail therapy to experiences. To meet these increased expectations, old-style malls and retailers, as we know them, have to evolve quickly to meet their customers’ needs to survive.

A two-day event, Seamless Middle East 2021, currently underway is on point to debate the future of malls and retail in a ‘new normal’ world.

Top Strategist, Lovrenc Kessler, Managing Partner, Simon-Kucher & Partners (UAE) is participating in the Keynote Panel that’s deliberating “The future of malls,” as well as a Panel discussing “Omnichannel retailing.”

The hot topic under discussion is how malls reinvent retail and rapidly transform to remain relevant. The expert panel is also pondering how to attract shoppers back to malls, bearing in mind customers’ priorities have switched to safety, convenience, and exceptional experiences.

According to Kessler, ecommerce sales are expected to reach over 20% of total retail sales in the coming years, placing the traditional business model of shopping malls at risk.

“Shopping malls in the UAE will have to rethink their business model and introduce disruptive changes in their offering, service and monetization strategy. Especially in light of the recent reforms in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and a higher focus on domestic tourism. Saudi arrivals to the UAE are expected to drop by up to 30%, impacting malls’ revenue,” adds Kessler.

Now more than ever it’s time for retailers to recalibrate their understanding of customers whose shopping patterns are increasingly moving from bricks to clicks.

The Panel is deliberating how to accelerate omnichannel retailing that is customer-centric, providing shoppers with a smooth experience across channels.

Kessler says today’s shopper has an assortment of choices and pricing visibility, which makes many (e-)tailers think they are in a commodity market. “That is not correct. More than ever, players who design their entire company around customer centricity, will survive.”

“Having an online store does not mean you offer omnichannel convenience. True omnichannel success requires a 360 redesign of a company’s organizational structure, processes, and go-to-market approach,” adds Kessler.

The world is well-connected and tech savvy, brand conscious shoppers are spoilt for choice, shopping globally from the comfort of their homes. Therefore, retailers need effective omnichannel strategies that address the entire supply chain; from that first click right through to delivery.

It’s no longer just about the bottom-line, it’s about customers’ needs or the bottom-line will be eroded, and malls and retailers obliterated.