Keeping Up With The Times, Malls Embrace Technology

Westfield Mall

A Westfield mall.  Image courtesy of Bloomberg.

That the rise of online shopping is eroding malls’ customer base isn’t news — but how bigger mall owners are responding is.  Larger malls have the resources to invest in technology-based strategy and marketing, and astutely enough, that’s what they’re doing.  Though falling rents and increasing vacancies leave the general future of the mall unclear, malls the world over are still fighting back:

  • If you can’t beat them, join them: Australia’s Westfield Group Ltd., the world’s second-largest shopping-mall owner, has set up a virtual mall in tandem with all its brick-and-mortar space, drafting retailers who aren’t even physical tenants.
  • Swire Properties Ltd., which is the biggest commercial landlord in eastern Hong Kong, runs quizzes, photo competitions, and videos on Facebook and Twitter in order to attract customers to events and promotions at its malls.
  • The Shopkick app, which lets buyers physically scan goods with their smartphones to receive discounts and prizes, was in fact launched by Simon Property, the biggest U.S. mall owner.
  • Unibail-Rodamco, which owns malls in Europe, is going to begin testing a mobile app offering rewards, which users can engage with at one of the landlord’s shopping centers in Amsterdam.

So, will “clicks and bricks” strategy (so dubbed by James Brown, the head of retail research business at Jones Lange LaSalle Inc. in Europe) save the shopping mall as we know it?  Either way, we’re interested to see how physical shopping, working more in tandem with technology, might impact online shopping as well as the brick-and-mortar variety.

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