SCMC 2016 Recap
The Shopping Centre Management Conference 2016 (9-10th March) provided a great opportunity to meet with managers from some of the biggest and most renowned centres throughout the UK, before joining them in celebrating the best in customer service at the ACE Awards.
The conference itself featured many interesting talks and panel discussions which sparked enlightening conversation throughout the day, and a couple of the key themes discussed are summarised below.
1. Create a Shopping “Experience”
While online shoppping offers convenience, physical retail locations benefit from the unique opportunity to bring the retail experience to life. They provide a physical space to socialise with friends and family face-to-face, to bump into old acquaintances, enjoy a well-earned coffee and to find that perfect outfit. These are all feel-good experiences which enhance a shopping trip and reflect positively on the shopping centre brand.
Both shopping centres and the stores within the centre play a role in creating enjoyable experiences for customers and centre visitors.
In a review of the key trends from the past 12 months, one of the key drivers of success was identified as the provision of a “shopping experience” – i.e. as well as (or perhaps in lieu of) a customer’s wants/needs being fulfiled, their expectations were exceeded through auxiliary services. Retailers who focused on this area reported strong performance throughout Christmas 2015 in particular.
This included Mothercare which covered the retailing basics – i.e. new concessions and varied product ranges at competitive price points – and then went the extra mile for their customers through the provision of excellent customer service and complementary facilities including in-store soft play. By offering a varied selection of products and a safe area for young children to play, parents could relax and happily browse for longer.
2. Delight ALL Visitors
Visitors to a shopping centre or retail location could be segmented into categories:
A – determined shoppers (with a specific purchase in mind)
B – casual purchasers (searching for something which triggers the need to buy but not actively engaged)
C – those who treat a visit to the mall as a special occasion; something out of their normal day-to-day routine.
All three of these groups will interact with centre facilities and staff either actively or passively, and these interactions have the power to influence their opinions of the shopping centre and the entire retail experience.
With the power of social media and reviews (both positive and negative, but perhaps more importantly negative!) it is important that shopping centre managers devise a cohesive strategy which ensures there are facilities, events and experiences for each category of visitor.
“Retailtainment” has been coined as the phrase to cover the provision of such machinery and events, including Christmas grottos, photo booths, play areas, children’s rides and vending machines. These are all simple additions to a retail space and offer visitors the opportunity to create happy memories, bond with family and friends and leave with a sense of achievement (and a selfie or two!)
Not all visitors will make a purchase during their trip, however they will all form an opinion of the centre. It is this opinion which will determine whether their next purchase takes place in your shopping centre or elsewhere.
A big thank you to the organisers for a very enjoyable trip to Brighton and to both current and potential customers with whom we thoroughly enjoyed seeing again and speaking with!
Please note that the points discussed in this blog post are merely opinion, not fact, and reached through discussions with attendees and personal notes.
We strongly believe in the value of retailtainment in both increasing dwell time and generating an additional source of revenue for shopping centres and retail locations – and we have the stats to back this up. Direct your enquiries to Sarah Hannity (Marketing Manager) via email@example.com