Driven by a new generation of consumer and in response to COVID-19, shopping centres are taking cues from luxury, entertainment and hospitality to transform the shopping centre as you know it. As fashion retail is evolving, shopping centres are carefully curating their ‘in centre experience’ and retail offer to meet the rising expectations of consumers.

Convenience, a strong mix of brands and exceptional service are just some of the ways that shopping centres are appealing to the needs of customers and their communities.

These are some of the factors that set shopping centres apart, as a unique experience in their own right, for the fashion-forward customer.

 

The Right Mix

To remain relevant and thrive, shopping centres need to be places where a customer can find their favourite everyday brands alongside aspirational retailers. For ‘super regional’ shopping centres, which have approximately 250 specialty stores, it is important to offer the best in each category, from sought-after international mini majors and high-end Australian designers through to bespoke homewares and convenience shopping. We know from research that our customer wants variety; from flagship to boutique, a range of price points and a diversity of offerings for all ages. Today’s discerning customer knows what they are looking for and wants to compare a variety of stores to satisfy their needs.

 

Uniqueness

Shopping centres need to offer bespoke experiences for their customers. By drawing insights from consumer research, a destination can be created that is both unique and responds to the community’s needs. The $800 million development of Karrinyup Shopping Centre is responding to its fashion-conscious customer base with leading international retailers such as H&M and UNIQLO alongside Australian favourites such as MECCA, with many more exciting announcements still to come. The centre will be one of Perth’s leading fashion and lifestyle destinations, providing unique spaces for customers to shop brands they would normally only see online or in high street locations, alongside exclusive iterations of locally loved Perth brands.

 

Grand Designs

While the mix of fashion retailers is important, centres also need to create the right environment for customers. No longer are shopping centres enclosed spaces devoid of design. Features such as considered lighting, unique colour palettes, artwork and public outdoor spaces are all critical in creating a place that people can connect with. Incorporating design features such as skylights to enhance natural light and spaces that flow seamlessly from outside to inside create more of a village atmosphere and allow customers to feel connected to the world around them. The new-look Karrinyup will feature a series of sweeping skylights in Karrinyup’s Fashion Loop to provide an abundance of natural light.  It will be an oasis for the community.

 

Convenience Culture

Time poor customers want to be able to access their shopping centre easily, with varied entry points depending on the nature of their visit supported by ample parking. They also want to be able to find everything they need in the one place, whether it’s being able to entertain the family, shop for fashion and food or experience world-class cinema. In addition to its unrivalled retail offering, Karrinyup Shopping Centre will offer a state-of-the-art HOYTS cinema, a range of casual and gourmet dining options, special events and activations, gyms and beauty spas.

 

Bespoke Service

Fashion retail has moved from just the transaction to incorporate more elements of consultation and client services than ever before. Customers want to be able to seek advice on lifestyle trends such as what to wear to yoga, the perfect office attire or how to ‘wow’ at a special event. The expertise of in store staff continues to be an important differentiator from online shopping. The traditional service assistant is now an advisor to the customer, a trusted friend who has knowledge to impart and whose opinion is actively sought.

 

The New Normal

COVID-19 has certainly required brands to adapt quickly to emerging trends, including managing operations within the parameters of government restrictions. We are seeing activewear and loungewear continue to grow as key trends, with many brands incorporating this category as part of smaller capsule collections. For consumers, buying locally has become a growing preference. Authenticity has also become important, with brands creating a sense of community and connection, such as including employees in their campaigns. Longer term in response to COVID-19, we expect to see more collaborations, innovative new technologies and a focus on nurturing local brands.

Today, shopping centres must be a journey of accessible exploration; they must be convenient, well mixed and aesthetically pleasing to capture and nurture customer loyalty.

As a highly qualified property professional, Jackie has more than twenty years’ experience covering a vast range of disciplines including real estate, marketing and over 16 years in shopping centre leasing, specialising in projects. Jackie is a licenced real estate agent and has worked with Coles Myer, ING, Metier and most recently with AMP Capital for over seven years on Garden City, the Ocean Keys redevelopment and is currently the Project Leasing Manager of Karrinyup Shopping Centre. This development delivers new design and construction in excess of $800 million, giving this centre the leading edge in contemporary destination design and customer experience – due for practical completion by the end of 2021.

 

1 In Depth Qualitative Customer Understanding, Click Research, August 2020

 

*This article first featured on Business News Australia, published 14 October 2020.

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