Lifestyle retail: the changing role of the European shopping centre

Shopping centres aren’t able to offer endless aisles and limitless choice, as the digital world so often does. Instead, their USP is the ability to deliver engaging lifestyle experiences. They have the power to reclaim physical shopping as fun and, in doing so, innovative shopping centres are driving sales and helping retailers build enthusiastic new fan bases.

“To remain relevant, shopping centres must offer a unique experience and are repositioning themselves as community hubs, lifestyle centres or vast, glitzy entertainment complexes,” noted Euromonitor’s 2016 report, The Reinvention of the Mall.

Centre owners recognise the possibilities of what Nielsen termed ‘shoppertainment’, which puts retail at the heart of the consumer’s leisure activities. Late-night shopping, discount extravaganzas, mini festivals, pop-up shops, street food markets, kids’ activities, fashion shows, celebrity appearances – the possibilities are endless.

But rather than gamble on what might or might not yield footfall, increase dwell time and boost spend, smart European shopping centre owners are leveraging traffic measurement and analytics tools to inform their lifestyle-focused strategies. Pinpointing premium store locations and shopping centre hotspots can be invaluable, as is accurate knowledge of peak and quiet trading times.

A great example of this approach is Manufaktura. This is a remarkable shopping, entertainment and cultural centre in Lodz, Poland, which opened in 2006 and spans almost 0.3 square kilometres. Manufaktura’s management team depends on accurate footfall data to fine-tune its marketing and events strategy, and make informed operational decisions when it comes to opening hours and store locations.

Because Manufaktura employs ShopperTrak’s traffic solution, the team has a deeper understanding of visitor flow in and around the entire Manufaktura complex, which includes three museums, a climbing wall, and a 15-screen cinema, as well as 306 shops.

It’s possible to pinpoint the most popular entrances, identify hotspots and cold zones and adapt plans accordingly. Data-backed insights have shaped marketing campaigns and helped the centre develop a detailed understanding of core customer behaviour. Notably, the footfall data has flagged quieter areas, so that they can be revitalised through infrastructure changes. The result is a commercially successful and vibrant entertainment and cultural complex.

Understanding shopper behaviour is also at the heart of the strategy of shopping centre owner, Hammerson. The retail property giant operates many prime shopping centres across Europe and Charles de La Portbarré, Head of Insight, France, at Hammerson, says his focus is on delivering a better shopper experience in each unique location.

“Traffic counting technology helps us to understand any patterns or trends within the centres,” he says. “We can act on the insight by making operational decisions that are proven to improve footfall. It is also a key tool for measuring the effectiveness of our marketing and promotions.”

Hammerson can look at traffic patterns in real time, and make informed decisions immediately if required. Needless to say, being data rich in this way helps Hammerson in its dealings with investors and prestigious retail tenants, who increasingly expect this level of business intelligence from a retail landlord.

‘Shoppertainment’ sounds easy, but executing it successfully requires good shopper intelligence. Shopping centres with the right data at their fingertips can get to work on blending lifestyle and retail under one roof, and start generating direct commercial wins.

And thankfully for consumers, this means the age-old activity of shopping is about to get a lot more fun.

Are you ready to delight your customers with lifestyle-centric shopping? ShopperTrak’s Analytics Suite has all the tools you’ll need to get started. Find out more here.

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