Harness the Power of
Creating an Experience
I admit it: I succumbed to the charms of
retail at an early age. When I was five,
my family lived in New Jersey and every
Saturday, my grandmother would take
me across the river to Philadelphia to
shop in the outdoor markets. I remember rows upon rows of tables overflowing with mounds of trinkets, dolls, costume jewelry and snacks—everything
that could possibly delight a five-year
old’s eye and limited pocketbook. High
excitement and much consideration
were given to the shopkeeper offering an
all-too-rare sale. Truthfully, it probably
included a lot of junk, but it was the experience that made the day.
:: Retail is a Lifestyle
Retail has changed a lot since then, but
our desire to have the experience r
e-mains. What’s different about shopping
today? First, we’re all hyper-connected,
every day in everyway. More than half
of you out there are likely reading this
article on your Smartphones right now.
As customers, we want the feel the ambience and service of a neighborhood
store with the best, most up-to-date information technology has to offer, and
we want it now.
Today, we can shop (almost) anywhere. We’ve grown used to a culture
of discounting and daily, if not hourly,
sales. Retailers come and go, often with
alarming frequency. We’ve graduated
from a culture of convenience to a culture of choice, knowing that we can buy
wherever—and whenever—we want to.
If you have a teenager, I know you’re
with me on this one: my daughter can
check out the latest deals on Gilt or
Groupon before her feet even hit the
floor in the morning. When you’re considering the tenant mix of your centers,
remember that retail now is more than a
convenience, it’s a lifestyle.
The Power of Cool
Don’t underestimate the power that technology and cool can bring to
today’s retail. For example, if you’ve ever been in a store that offers self-checkout, you know that it doesn’t always work. For me, bells typically
sound, alarms go off and I end up skulking back to the regular check-out stand. Until recently, that is. Venturing into an Apple store to purchase a headset not long ago, I found that I could pay for my purchase
with the Apple Store app on my phone. My first thought? This is cool.
Even though I don’t like self-checkout, Apple’s twist on technology has
managed to make even this function seem new.
:: Put a twist on it
Today, I can find the best offers before I set foot in a store. I can check
out the closest store to me, chat with a customer service agent online, look up directions and get mobile coupons—all before leaving the
house. If you’ve been to a bank or a department store lately, it’s likely
the sales associate has asked if you’d like a paperless receipt.
As customers, we’re more tech-savvy than ever before. We know
what we want, and we know how to use it. I’d bet that many of us
can’t resist the urge to shop the competition on our Smartphones while
we’re in a store. In fact, Deloitte estimates that 41 percent of us do so
routinely and 59 percent of us used our Smartphones to find a better
price somewhere else. There’s also what I call The Good, the Bad and
the Ugly: if we like a product or a service, we can immediately “like”
it—or not—online, in real time.