The changing nature of shopping centers

At BIRD’s EYE VIEW View, we focus on retail-driven property, more commonly and restrictively called “Shopping centers”

We believe Retail is, among others, essential to sustainable urban communities.
Montesquieu once wrote: “Là où il y a le Commerce, il y a la paix – Là où il y a la paix, il y a le Commerce”.
One could argue retail is not necessary Commerce with a Capital C. Correct. Montesquieu meaning of Commerce might have been closer to “social exchange” rather than “interchange of goods”. But we like to think that both are necessary for a peaceful community.
Property is usually understood as “the possession of a person, the ownership of a company”. As far as “Retail driven property” is concerned, we like to extend this meaning to “something at the disposal of the community”. But that part has been left behind in most Retail driven properties… Retail has become over the past decades limited to the “sale of goods to ultimate consumers”: it has pushed away the “social” factor as well as the “interchange” idea to support “consumerism”, for which “ever-expanding consumption of goods is advantageous to the economy” (but does “advantageous to the economy” necessary means “good to the people”?…).
To some extent, as proven by the fact that UNIBAIL RODAMCO for instance, is classified under “Financial Services” in the French Stock Exchange CAC40, property became a “financial asset”. In this scheme, retail has thus become a mean of “financial growth” (growth = increase) rather than a mean of “development” (= progress), whether it is about human or urban development. In these conditions, it is barely contributing to the community, and certainly has very little ability to build peace into a community.
Retail driven property has shifted it’s focus from the community it should serve to the financial growth it is supposed to bring. Meanwhile, retailers have jumped into the “cross-channel retailing era”, deeply impacting their business model and their business relationship with Shopping centers landlords.
As a consequence, we believe that retail driven property will either deeply suffer from today’s evolution or seize this as a great opportunity: it might actually be the first time in its history when Retail driven properties such as Shopping centers will have to change in NATURE, both for retailers & customers:
For retailers, shopping centers will be less “selling places” than “media places”.
For customers, shopping centers will be less “purchasing places” than “gathering places”
The Landlord / Tenant / Consumer status-quo is challenged…

We thus believe the following challenges will drive the industry:
– Give sense to retail places such as Shopping centers, a new sense to these places.
– Provide the Tenants with a major voice over the places to “touch” their customers
– The question will not be “how many consumers per year” but ” how many visits per consumer?”
– Create an ubiquitous retail environment, extend the physical frontiers of the Shopping centers
– Have a more holistic view of the business from manufacturing to distribution and recycling.
– Have better insights to the full business, collect data and provide it to your tenants
– Think from “purchasing places” to “gathering places”
– And much more…

Facing these exciting challenges, we have made ours Gaston Bachelard’s quote:
“Let’s imagine too much to realize enough”

4 thoughts on “The changing nature of shopping centers

  1. Reblogged this on Urban Choreography and commented:
    It is more likely that retail properties big owners – the banks will be unable to suppress their and their capital partners – big retails unending greed – – I hope you are right – but fear there will be far more collapsing before they are prepared to accept a changed role.

  2. It is more likely that retail properties big owners – the banks will be unable to suppress their and their capital partners – big retails unending greed – – I hope you are right – but fear there will be far more collapsing before they are prepared to accept a changed role.

    • Mr Pavithra,

      I experienced that all interfaces (interactive kiosks, mobile, iPad, desktop) can be approached with a similar methodology. Basically, this method intends to understand the users’ needs to achieve accurate business objectives.

      Defining these objectives requires a solid understanding of the business and what it is meant for.
      It also helps to align all the stakeholders.

      Understanding users’ needs demands in-depth analyses of the audiences, what and why they want, what already exists. Depending on the objectives and the budget, those analyses can go very far and and plunge their roots in behavioural sciences: user & task analysis, traffic data, benchmarking, eye-tracking, functional magnetic resonance imaging…
      Such a method is also key to avoid “I like – I don’t like” disturbance, as everything is solidified by scientific background.

      Afterwards, comes the time to define the users journey, how he will reach what he is looking for and the interfaces themselves. A behavioural background is also helpful as it allows to calibrate the interfaces with gestalt principles, golden number…

      Using user-centric methodology also opens new fields of creativity and innovation…


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