Technology has become a necessity of everyday life and is advancing at a faster pace than ever. This has caused immense change in business as usual, and many industries are finding it hard to keep up. And what has been one of the greatest victims to the technological revolution? Retail. Particularly, the shopping mall.
May the Best Mall Win
The modern marketplace is so different today that it is requiring calculated strategies to not just flourish, but to merely survive. As the business process continues to move away from the legacy systems to technology-based operations, Steven M. Lowy, the Co-CEO of Westfield believes that malls must embrace technology if they want to capture the benefits that it provides. Or risk being a mere figment of former shopper’s imaginations.
It makes sense though. Nowadays, people are so tied to technology that they expect it in stores. “Consumers today expect to be very, very well serviced – with technology,” said Lowy, per CNBC. Technology has become so necessary for shoppers that “they wake up every day with that expectation.” For this reason, Lowy believes it is necessity.
When One Door Closes….
The retail real estate sector has been characterized by dire headlines in recent times due to store closures, including high profile ones involving Best Buy, Toys R Us, Wal-mart’s Sam’s Club sector, etc. If they must convince shoppers back into their properties, Lowy asserts that “retailers need technology within the store” for things as simple as checkouts and payments. In addition, he believes that brick-and-mortar retailers also should go further and implement technology for visual merchandising.
Besides convenience, amongst other options, e-commerce companies maintain an edge because they know the nuances of their customer before they even click, “add to cart.” It remains to be seen how the retail owners will step up to compete with that. But, if they wish to they will need to implement the right strategies to make their business more profitable.
The Lowy Model
CEOs could follow the Lowy model, however, then they will need to invest in their properties. That is always the issue, new technologies cost money. ICSC.org reported that Paris-based Unibail-Rodamco, one of the largest commercial landlords in the world, has agreed to acquire Westfield in a deal worth around $15.8 billion. Lowy is expected to head OneMarket, the company’s new real estate tech incubator upon the completion of the sale.
Lowy is someone who has steered his business to enviable heights and he knows how to approach the problem ravaging the retail real estate industry and deal with it decisively. In fact, his takeaway is that technology MUST be implemented whether it ranges from small scale, to Omni channel practices, all the way to in-store AI. To him, “The talk of the death of the mall, and many bankruptcies of retailers…it’s basically because [mall owners] are not servicing their customers properly in a way that they like.”