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Creating New Mall Experiences

Retail is changing the way we shop. How would a Mall Of the Future look like ?

The Scenario :

  • Economy is down since 2008. Consumers are spending less.

  • Infrastructure is more expensive.

  • More than 25 % shopping is done online.

  • The mobile is retail's next game changer.

  • The millennial generation is less interested in “stuff” & more interested in “experiences.”

The Impact

Smaller Stores :

  • Retailers prefer smaller and lesser stores to minimise rentals & maintenance charges.

  • Retailers compliment these stores with an aggressive online selling strategy.

  • Analysts say that shops will only get smaller in the near future.

Multi-use Shopping Centers:

  • Real estate is more expensive. Travel costs more.

  • Developers are building shopping centers that have a mixture of places to eat, live, work, play – and of course shop.

  • We see an increasing number of apartments and offices in the same building as malls.

  • To attract customers, bars, live entertainment hotspots, ”feederies” (or eateries and themed restaurants), gourmet restaurants – are being added to the shopping center mix to keep customers from straying.

  • To make malls an integral part of the surroundings, developers are 'de-malling'. This means they adding entrances to avoid the traditional central courtyard concept.

The Emergence of Themed Malls:

  • Themed malls are becoming very popular. The concept is already well established abroad.

  • The biggest advantage themed malls provide is more choice & variety of specialised goods or services under one roof.

  • The idea is to bring focus and convenience to the attention deficit customer.

The Rise of High-End Malls:

  • Affluent consumers have seen their incomes grow sharply since the recession. Hence the wealthy have more discretionary cash to spend.

  • It's led to a wide gap in performance between Class A malls, the ones that sell the most per square foot and tend toward luxury vs. the others.

  • Even high-end retailers are doing much better than the middle and lower end retailers.

Malls as Museums

  • Since people want to do more shopping online, from the convenience of their homes, malls have to be more than just simple shopping places.

  • Concept of a mall is being redefined as more of a museum or a learning centre.

  • To pass on more data about the project, information kiosks, directories, story telling booths try to engage the shopper.


  • As global natural resources decline, buildings / interiors are more environment conscious.

  • So mall designs try to optimize water, natural light, heat and waste management.

  • Mall common areas and outdoor courts try to incorporate more green elements into spaces -- trees, lawns, potted plants, water bodies etc.

The Future of the Shop-front

  • Shop fronts of the future will be what are termed as ‘technology enabled’ shop fronts – they allow you to buy merchandise even when the shop is closed – from the shop’s website etc.

  • The window displays would be more interactive

  • 3D Holographic greeters with built in QR codes being used at store entrances. The QR codes pass on coupons to shoppers that pass by the store – hence act as an concierge / curator.

Personalise & Customise

  • The mobile is a major driver to enable personalization.

  • Mobile is linked to the wifi of the building / store – enabling retailers/ developers to track the movement patterns of the shopper. Services like Meridian and Internal Atlas use this data to build up analytics on the shopper and push coupons along their paths.

  • Once the data is tracked, recorded and analyzed, deals / offers / new developments can be pushed onto the shoppers’ devices for future visits.

Innovations Galore

  • Key data reveals that men are shopping more than ever before.

  • Innovations are happening in shopping cart design as well. So you have motorized carts to foldable ones to self driven vehicles.

  • ATMs are being innovated to provide more privacy and security via ‘ lie detecting ATMs’.

  • To make carrying shopping bags easier, innovations like PVC shopping grips or stainless steel knuckle holders – termed as ‘shopping helpers’ – have started being used in malls abroad.

  • Design Language Of The Future : Organic forms, reflective surfaces and colour.


The Future Has Just Begun ...

The future of retail is exciting. As more innovations make the shopping experience more deeper, richer and personal, mall and retail design is in its infacy in a sense. The long road ahead promises a bright, exciting and soulful journey.

*The above is an abridged version of our article published in the October 2013 edition of 'Shopping Centre News' -- India's leading retail magazine. Download the full unabridged article here.

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