The mall, once a great American institution of retail commerce, has fallen on hard times. The rise of e-commerce giants like Amazon have hit brick-and-mortar retailers hard, and these once-bustling behemoths teeming with customers clutching overstuffed bags and Orange Juliuses have in many cases been reduced to niche shopping and empty storefronts. According to Business of Fashion, Credit Suisse reports that in just five years, 25% of US malls will cease to exist.
But don’t count the mall out just yet. High-end retail brands are making a play to re-capture the American mall shopper, reimagining the experience into something that feels more personal and upscale, and laser-focusing on the customer relationship. These moves, brands hope, will breathe new life into the lifestyle aspect of brick-and-mortar shopping, creating unique experiences that simply aren’t possible from behind a computer or phone screen.
In short, to keep customers coming back, retailers are going to great lengths to create unique experiences that forge genuine connections between shoppers and their brands, even reinventing themselves in the process.
Nordstrom Local Store, LA
Uber & Hugo Boss Partnership – “Boss on Demand”
Old brands employing new strategies for success
Even legacy players are finding themselves in this evolve-or-die mentality and making big changes to their identities. According to Luxury Society, longtime mall anchor store stalwart Nordstrom is shifting focus to services like personal styling, beauty and tailoring. At its new West Hollywood location (dubbed “Nordstrom Local”), shoppers will be able to try on clothing, receive styling tips and other services, but won’t find any clothes to buy in-store. Instead Nordstrom is using POS terminals so customers can order their clothes online for same-day store delivery.
This multi-channel approach is being adopted by other retailers looking to blend the ease and speed of online shopping with the experience only available in a physical store. Hugo Boss has put a luxurious spin on its offering, partnering with Uber to provide free transportation for customers to and from stores with its Boss On Demand service, which it calls “the next level of Boss.”
Evolving customer needs means brands need to evolve, too
As technology has changed the way retailers must operate, so, too have customer tastes changed. Today’s customer expects quality products, immediately available in all sizes and styles, and expects a little something extra for making the trek to a physical store. Smart retailers are adapting their approach to meet the demands of the modern customer head-on, going the extra mile to make customers feel important and pampered while they’re within their walls. It is those retailers who successfully tweak their formula to create that lifestyle experience who will survive the coming wave of mall and brick-and-mortar closures.