How To Save JCPenney, Macy's, And Other Mall Retailers
Tips and strategies for increasing the revenues of mall retailers such as Macy's and JCPenney.
In the past, shopping malls were considered to be popular spots where families and teenagers used to spend their free time. Shopping malls were considered to be high class establishments as they housed branded stores and exclusive products. Shopping malls in the US have come a long way since then. Nowadays many shopping malls are facing losses from stiff competition from online shopping platforms such as Amazon and Ebay. Many shopping mall retailers in the US have been forced to close their businesses due to the rising popularity of online shopping.
Rise of Online Shopping
Customers are now preferring to spend their money online rather than searching for the products they need in stores. The main reason for the drastic change in customer's preference is the convinience offered by online shopping. Customers find that online shopping sites give them
Huge Discounts - Discount offers, contests, special prices are all a regular feature on online shopping sites. These special offers are clever marketing ploys that attract customers to the site. Sites such as Ebay, essentially allow a customer to negotiate the prices, or make offers based on his or her budget.
Doorstep Delivery - Most websites offfer free doorstep delivery service which is convinient for the customer. Free delivery option is offered on some popular shopping websites,such as same day delivery by Amazon in some markets like in New York City. This option ensures that the customer need not pay extra money for getting his product.
Variety of Products - Online shopping platforms list different brands on their page. The customers are also spoiled for choice as there are a variety of products in their inventory. The wide range of products allows the customer to make a better choice. This is amplified by the third party sellers that offer products on Amazon, and by the ability of anyone with an internet connection to post products for sale on Ebay.
Comfort - The most important factor that drives customers to opt for online shopping is the comfort level. Customers can purchase any product from the comfort of their own home. Online shopping allows the customers to save time and energy by eliminating the need to physically visit a store. Free returns provide an additional convenience factor. Amazon customers can receive and return products through lockers placed at independent retailers and at national retailers such as Kohl's, 7-Eleven, Gristedes, and Speedway.
Drawbacks of Online Shopping
Although the advantages of online shopping are many, there are still a few drawbacks to the experience. Online shopping is not seen as a completely trustworthy or reliable activity as there might be some risk in the activity. Online shoppers often face disappointment with their purchases due to quality issues or delay in delivery of product. These reasons might seem trivial when compared to the more pressing drawback of online shopping i.e., unfair business practices. Some online shopping platforms resort to unfair business practices and cheat customers of their money by sending inferior/damaged products to the customers. Websites that follow such practises are generally not popular websites but the customers might be unaware of their reputation. Some of most common complaints that online shoppers have are
Lack of Variety - Similar products are often listed in all the shopping websites with neglibile price differences. This limits the customer's choice as they have to buy that product at that price only. Customers who are looking for a discount are often left disappointed as these websites tend to offer discounts at the same time.
Old Stock - The huge discounts and big sale days that are organised on the online shopping websites are well received by shoppers. But, these sales are a clever way through which these online shopping sites get rid of their old stock. Heavily discounted products found on the online platforms are often poor quality items or are out of season.
Waiting Period - After making their purchase, the shoppers have to wait for the package to get delivered. The shipping time and delivery charges vary from one shopping site to another. As a result, customers do not get to experience instant gratification and have to wait to enjoy their purchase.
Disappointment - Customers who buy online often face disappointment after they receive their package. This is mainly due to the fact that the customer has no way to gauge the quality of the product, the colour shade, fitting and exact measurements. This is especially true when it comes to apparel, which is why many analysts believe that apparel centric retailers such as Macy's, Jcpenney, Target and Kohl's, have an advantage over retailers that exclusively sell through online channels.
Returns - While most stores offer customer support and have set return policies, online shoppers often face issues with product returns. The return policy and the level of customer support varies from one website to another. Websites which have lengthy return procedures cause stress and unhappiness. Some websites do not refund the customer's money but instead they offer credit. This coerces the customer to buy from the same website again. Keep in mind that although online retailers such as Amazon and Ebay might have generous return policies, the onus is on the customer to actually send the merchandise back.
Logistical Delays - Unforeseen logistical delays can cause a longer delivery time. In some cases, the customers receive wrong packages or have their package misplaced.
Quality Issues - Since the customers cannot check the product quality before buying online, they may receive poor quality products. Customers often get disappointed when the product they ordered does not meet their quality expectations.
Replica products - Online shoppers also risk receiving replica products when they buy from lesser known websites. A few popular websites also do not verify their sellers and the product quality before listing them on their site. This negligence is leading to an increasing number of fake products in the online market,as well as irregular merchandise being marketed as first quality.
Factors that influence the success rate of a shopping mall
Shopping malls are now facing a tough battle with online shopping platforms websites in a quest to stay relevant in this Internet age. Many shopping mall based retailers, including the malls themselves, have closed down after losing the battle for survival. Shopping malls which are still popular and doing brisk business have certain factors that can be attributed for their success. These shopping malls have taken care to stay relevant and to provide utmost convinience and comfort to their customers.
Location - The location of a shopping mall plays a very important role in its success. The mall should be ideally located away from residential areas to avoid congestion. A shopping mall located just outside the busy areas or in the suburbs has a greater chance of success. The customers will be driving away from the traffic and will reach the mall faster. Shopping malls that are in less populated areas generally see more foot traffic as the customers prefer to spend less time to drive there.
Gross Area - The total square footage of the mall is also an important factor in attracting customers. A shopping mall that looks spacious and has visible open areas looks inviting. The mall should be designed to make the most use of the available space to attract customers and to allow them to spend more time. Having ample green cover is also a great way to beautify the space and make it inviting for the customers. Customers that are choosing a brick and mortar retailer are opting for a complete experience, unless they are buying simply out of an urgent necessity, or due to a product that is exclusively available at the retailer.
Connectivity - A shopping mall should have good road connectivity to make it accessible for everyone. Connectivity becomes a crucial factor to attract new customers. Easy connectivity to the freeway or major roads helps to reduce the transit time to reach the mall. Clear connectivity enables the customers to spend more time in the mall and encourages revisits. New customers prefer to visit malls that have easy and clear connectivity as they would like to avoid getting lost and wasting time.
Visibility - The shopping mall should be clearly identifiable from the connecting road or the freeway. Potential customers who are passing through the area along the freeway should be able to view the mall. This clear visibility will help to create a sense of curiosity and will help to grab attention. Shopping malls that are visible from the road encourage more footfall as they are easily accessible for an impromptu stop. Mall based retailers need to ensure that their signs are well lit and clean, since they are battling customer's perceptions that mall based retailers are on their way out.
Ample Parking - A well organized and clearly marked parking area is an essential feature for a mall. The parking lot is the first thing that the customers see when they enter the premises. The ease in which the customers can park their car and its accessibility to the mall set the tone of the visit. Customers who are unhappy with the parking facilities often tend to avoid visiting those malls altogether. Retailers should consider using outdoor props to encourage shoppers to enter their stores. A customer might not have a specific retailer in mind when visiting a mall, so the parking lot is a perfect opportunity to generate foot traffic for a retailer such as Macy's or Jcpenney.
Customer Service - Having well trained, polite staff members is important in retail. The staff members who are employed in the mall should be equipped to deal with any type of customer query. The customers should feel comfortable and reassured after they talk to the staff members about their issues or queries. Macy's and Jcpenney should consider incentivizing all employees in terms of product sales, not just their sales people. Every employee can be a potential salesperson since they are all interacting either directly or indirectly with shoppers. Non front line employees can be given a bonus based on the overall performance of the store that they work at, or based on the company's performance.
Variety of In Store Boutiques - A shopping mall retailer should have many different boutiques in it to offer a variety of products to its customers. Stores which carry different products can cater to the needs of different customers easily. Having a good mix of different stores helps to attract customers with different needs to the mall. While Macy's and JCPenney have many in store boutiques based on brands such as Disney, Lego, Ralph Lauren, and Levi's, this strategy should be pursued with every brand that they carry. This strategy should be applied to local popular designers on a rotating basis, as well as to up and coming brands. Many of these local designers and new brands have existing followings that retailers can benefit from. By showcasing local talent such as upcoming designers and new brands, a retailer can generate tremendous local and national media coverage.
Brand Exclusivity - The buying power of a department store such as Macy's and JCPenney is a dream come true for an upcoming brand. Department stores should seek to form exclusive relationships with new brands and designers, so that they become the sole retail source for products by these brands and designers. The department stores can then use their own marketing power, in addition to the homegrown popularity of the brand and designer, to capitalize on the exclusive collection that they will have access to.
Restaurants - Shoppers often find the need to refresh themselves while shopping as it can be a tiring task. A successful shopping mall retailer should feature various dining options for the customers, or have relationships with mall based retailers. Fast food joints, fine dining options and speciality restuarants should all be included in a retailer's marketing plan to encourage shoppers to dine in or near the store's premises. Good dining facilities allow the shoppers to grab a bite and continue their shopping.
Store Front - A well maintained storefront with clean windows featuring bright displays attracts customers to the mall. The premises should also be well kept with cleaning crews doing rounds at regular intervals. This will help to ensure litter-free, hygenic surroundings for the customers. It is crucial to change the displays frequently, as well as include local themes such sporting events that are popular locally.
Facilities - The mall should have easy accessibility options for people of all abilities. Proper ramps, escalators, and elevators should be installed at regular distances to ensure customer's comfort. Restrooms should also be available in every floor with visible signs and directions. The restrooms should be well stocked to ensure a hygenic and clean environment for the shoppers. Restrooms can be great opportunities, and sometimes even the final opportunity, to encourage a shopper to buy, or to increase their purchase. Online stores will have last chance offers for shoppers that abandon their shopping cart, brick and mortar stores can and should find ways to replicate this strategy in the offline world. Marketing messages should also be prominently displayed at all exits.
Strategies to improve the business in shopping malls
Shopping malls are always looking for new ways to reinvent themselves in order to attract customers to their stores. Malls that are looking for new ways to encourage customers to visit them should follow these strategies.
Curbside Signs - Shopping malls should encourage curbside stores to display signs and boards to attract customers. Boards featuring witty, funny one liners spike the customer's interest. Customers get tempted to visit the store after noticing the signs and boards. This is a trending practise that is gaining much popularity among millenials. Interesting signs and boards often get clicked and uploaded onto various social media platforms. These images and posts become viral and help to generate business for the mall.
Loyalty Reward Programs - Shopping malls and stores must remember to engage their existing customers while trying out new strategies to welcome new shoppers. Regular customers should be offered special priviliges and loyalty rewards for continuing to shop with the store. Regular customers can be treated to special discounts, preview sales and special sale days. These unique programs will keep the existing customers loyal to the store and will also encourage new customers to join the loyalty programs.
Attractive Decorations - Shopping malls should have attractive decorations to celebrate various festivals and seasons. The festive atmosphere will help to attract more customers to the stores. Malls which feature bright backdrops, fixtures, and unique props attract more footfall as the customers are curious to check out the new look. These decorations and designs are also clicked and uploaded on social media sites by customers which helps to promote the mall.
Community Outreach Programs - Shopping malls should reach out to the local community and engage in local activities to make their presence felt. These programs and activities will help the local community to develop a bond with the establishment. Sponsoring community events like local sports, festivals and contribution to various charities are all great ways to reach out and give back to the community.
Atrium events - The atrium space of a shopping mall can be used to conduct various events to attract people. Events for children like puppet shows, art contests, science shows help to bring in families to the mall. Atrium space can also be used to host local business exhibitions to support the local community. Stores can also conduct their promotional activities like mini makeup sessions, styling sessions in the atrium to reach a wider audience. The atrium can also be used to conduct cooking classes, hobby meetings or free yoga classes to attract different people to the mall in a bid to boost sales.
Leisure activities - The availability of different leisure activities in a mall will help the customers to relax and encourage them to spend more time in the mall. Indoor sport activities such as rock climbing, ski slopes, sky diving, trampoline, roller skating area are all popular leisure activities that attract kids and young adults. Hobby classes for adults, cooking competitions, wine tasting and free exercise sessions are some great ways to engage shoppers in the mall.
Entertainment - Popular shopping malls have different entertainment options to engage the customers. People often prefer to visit shopping malls which provide different entertainment options for the family. Some popular entertainment options that are now being included in malls are game rooms, children soft play areas, trampoline rooms and free play areas. It is a good idea to have some free play areas in the mall to allow children to relax and get comfortable.
Aquarium - Shopping malls are now looking at popular attractions that can be included in the premises in a bid to attract customers. Private aqaurium areas are now being included in malls to provide an alternate learning experience. Well maintained aquariums which feature a variety of sea life are popular among children. These establishments often hold special shows for families and kids at discounted prices to encourage more visitors.
Theatres - Theatres which play movies and conduct live shows are another popular entertainment feature that can be set up in shopping malls. Dedicated screens for viewing kid's movies and special offers will help to draw in more people.
Museums - Museums with attractive displays and unique art collecctions help to attract people of all age groups. These spaces can also be used to conduct different activities like art classes, lectures and interactive sessions.
Kisoks and Pop-up Stores - Kisoks and pop-up stores are temporary attractions that are set up with a purpose to build the brand. These features help to create a solid customer base as they can be set up in a small space in the mall. These temporary joints often serve as pick and go points for the customers and help the stores to build their customer base. Pop-up stores are usually run by fast food stores which sell ice cream, coffee and other quick eats, as wellas national and startup retailers looking to test out a product or market. Kiosks can be opened to hand out free samples to the customers to encourage them to buy the product.
Social media presence - The shopping mall should have a strong social media presence to attract more customers. The mall should employ a social media manager to create and maintain the mall's official page. The shopping mall should also run ads on FB and Google to promote its image. Another great strategy is to run online campaigns and contests to attract customers. The rewards for the participants should be in the form of vouchers which can be redeemed only in the mall. This will compel the participants to visit the mall and redeem their voucher by making a purchase.
Social Media Participation - Sales associates should be encouraged to ask customers if they would like their pictures taken and posted online. The pictures can be tagged with the customer's name, generating store awareness among the customer's friends. Pictures can be posted on Facebook, Instagram, and on the retailer's website.
Video Testimonials - Sales associates should ask customers if they can take a video of them in which they can talk about their shopping experience. Videos can be uploaded to YouTube, posted on the retailer's website, and shared on Facebook.
Video Marketing - An employee specifically hired for this purpose, should take videos of different products while narrating the video in an exciting way that will appeal to prospective and current customers. The employee should have a fluency in the product segment that he or she will be covering.
Influencers - Hiring Influencers is a new trend that is being followed by many big brands including Google. Influencers who have a high social media presence and a large number of followers can promote the mall and the events easily, Influencers can bring in more people to visit the mall and encourage them to buy specific products.
Google Online Presence - A majority of the people turn to Google Maps when they want to drive anywhere. Places which have been tagged in Google Maps are easier to locate as the driver just has to follow the directions. To ensure that potential customers can eaily locate the shopping mall, the social media manager should check Google Maps to verify the directions. The shopping mall must be tagged and listed in Google maps for easy accessibility.
Google Local Inventory - Customers who are looking for specific products or brands tend to look up the same on Google Search Page. The search results will show the nearby stores which stock the specific product/brand. The stores in the shopping mall must ensure that their products and brand names show up on Google Search Page. Running ads on Google is a great way to promote the stores and the shopping mall.
Elegant grocery stores - A foolproof strategy to invite more customers to the mall is to have a grocery store. Customers have daily requirements for fresh produce and diary products. By having a grocery store, such as Whole Foods, the mall would encourage shoppers to visit the other stores too. Malls which feature grocery stores would be providing an all in shopping experience.
Kid Friendly Areas - Families often tend to spend more time in shopping malls which feature good activities for kids. Having free play areas for children is a great way to encourage families to spend more time in the mall. Children's arenas with arcade games and fast food joints are a popular feature in many malls. These areas allow the parents to relax and lets the kids enjoy themselves in a safe environment. Shopping malls which feature good toy stores, book stores and library facilities are more popular among families.
Wifi - Shopping malls should offer free Wi-Fi to attract people into the premises. Customers, typically young adults are often impulsive buyers who cannot resist the latest trends. Young adults are also the target group who use the free Wi-Fi option whenever it is avaiable. The wide social media presence that these young adults have can be channelled to promote the shopping mall.
Interactive Panel - A store map is an essential feature of a modern shopping mall. Interactive panels with the store map and different search options help the customers to locate the stores or products they need. These interactive panels should be located on each floor to help the customers find their way through the mall.
Curbside casual dining options - Having curbside open seating casual dining/refreshment options help to create a relaxed environment around the mall. Coffee shops, ice cream stations, popcorn vendors, fizzy drink machines and hot dog stand vendors should be encouraged to open shop on the curbside. Suitable seating arrangements will encourage the customers to sit, relax and refresh themselves while entering/leaving the mall.
Salons - Shopping malls have to include all the facilities that a customer can possibly want. In a bid to satisfy cusomer's needs most malls have started to lease space to nail salons, hairdressers and makeup artists. These grooming stations often see a lot of customers everyday, Taking a cue from this, shopping malls are now also leasing space to gyms and travel agencies in a bid to bring every facility under the same roof.
Short term leases for stores - People tend to get attracted to new openings, brands and trends. Keeping this in mind, it is a good strategy for shopping malls to give out short term leases for the stores. This will allow new players to open their stores in the mall. The new stores will feature new products and will attract customers to the mall. Short term leases will encourage new brands to open their stores in the mall.
Auto Shows - The mall parking area can be used to conduct auto shows which showcase different types of cars and bikes. These shows generally draw in a good audience. Conducting these type of shows in the mall premises will help the shopping mall to draw in new customers.
Music Shows - Local bands or musicians from the local community can be encouraged to set up for a show in the atrium or in the open space of the mall. These shows draw in good support from the local community especially young adults who are active on various social media platforms.
Exhibitions - Open spaces in the mall can be used to host different exhibitions to encourage young artisits and designers. By conducting such events, the mall gets a positive image in the community. Exhibitors will have a self interest in promoting their exhibits, thus bringing in more shoppers to the premises of the department store.
Improving Facilities in Shopping Malls
Shopping malls can also make some changes to their existing facilities to make themselves more relevant. Modern technology can be used to boost the existing facilities to provide better customer experience. By accepting the need to change and updating the facilities, a shopping mall can achieve good success. A few common facilities that can be updated to offer better convinience to the shoppers are
Parking Area - The parking area is the first thing that a customer experiences on the premises. A first good impression can be created by upgrading the parking lot with new features. Parking areas are now being viewed as important spaces which can be used to promote a sense of comfort. The parking areas in the malls can be upgraded by bringing in these changes.
Sensors - Parking sensors should be used to show open parking spaces in the lot. These sensors should be placed in a suitable place so that they are clearly visible. Parking sensors will help the customers to locate vacant parking spots easily. These sensors end the tedious task of manually searching for parking spaces. They help to save the customer's time and effort in looking for a suitable parking space.
Clear signs - The parking lot should have clear, bold signs to give proper directions to the customers. These signs help to avoid confusion and causing accidents. The signs help the customers to navigate through the parking lot easily.
Directions - The parking lot should have clear directions that guide the customers. Malls that have many exits from their parking lots offer convenience. The customers can choose an exit route of their choice to reach their destination faster. These exits should have clear signs that show which road the customer has to merge into. This information will guide the customer to make a better decision.
Multi-level parking - Multi-level parking facilities are now a trending design in construction. Shopping malls with multi-level parking facilities have three main advantages. Shaded parking - These parking lots offer shaded parking facilities for the customers. The cars remain protected from the elements and remain cool even on hot days. The customers are also protected from the need to walk through the hot and sunny parking lot to reach the mall.
Best use of space - A multi-level parking lot is great for a mall that has less parking space. This model helps to create more parking spaces in the same area.
Accessibility - A multi-level parking lot can be connected to the mall to make it more accessible. The parking levels can be connected to adjacent mall floors. The customers can park their cars on the level where the store they want to visit is located. This arrangement helps the customers to avoid the need of having to walk through the mall. Some malls can only connect a couple of parking levels to the mall area. Even in such cases, the customers experience greater convenience than before.
Security - Shopping malls should have adequate well-trained security personnel guarding the entrances and exits to promote a safe environment. Some big malls also allow security personnel to patrol in the mall in a bid to curb any anti-social elements from disturbing the mall atmosphere. The security personnel employed in the mall should be from a reputed security agency. The security personnel should be well trained and effecient in their job.They should have adequate resources to deal with any emergencies on the premises to ensure customer safety.
Safety regulations - Shopping malls should follow proper regulations and safety precautions to ensure the safety of the staff and shoppers. Safety euipment like water hose and fire extinguisher should be installed in visible spaces. The mall staff should receive proper safety training so that they can handle the equipment during emergency. The safety regulations should be strictly adhered to and timely inspections must be conducted to check the equipment. An emergency evacuation plan should also be posted in prominent areas so that the shoppers and the staff can safely exit from the building during emergency.
Customer feedback - Customer feedback is an essential tool with which any business can grow by adapting itself to the customer's preference. Successful shopping malls gather valuable customer feedback through feedback forms, impromptu surveys and interactive panels. The feedback collected from the customers should be taken in a positive way and any areas which need improvement have to be worked upon. Shopping malls and businesses which strive to work upon the customer's feedback often find success easily.
Help/Information Desk - Shopping malls have many different stores and facilities that cater to the needs of different customers. Sometimes, customers might need some help to find a particular store or he might need more information on the current offers in the mall. These type of queries can be resolved by an associate in the help desk. These information/help desks are a great way to help customers and resolve their queries. These desks should ideally have LCD screens/laptops to enable the staff member to assist the customer better. The help desks should be available on all floors of the shopping mall so that the staff members can be easily accessible to the shoppers.
Simple Mall layout - The shopping mall should be designed in a simple way so that the shoppers can easily find their way through the mall. Malls which have many levels should have proper, visible directions and LED panels to guide the customers. A simple layout helps the customers to save their time as they need not search for stores. The stores in the mall should be centrally located and have prominent signs to attract shoppers.
Special Avenues - The latest trend in mall design is have seperate avenues for each particular category of products. The avenue design will help shoppers to find a number of stores selling similar products in a small area of the mall. The avenue layout is a great design for a shopping mall as it helps the customers buy better. The customers can browse different stores without having to walk through the mall.
Unique Store Mix - Shopping malls should have different stores in their premises to attract different types of shoppers. Most malls try to maintain a healthy balance of big brand stores and less popular stores in a bid to provide variety. The store mix in a shopping mall should be intresting enough to attract more shoppers. Shopping malls often strive to introduce new stores to attract customers. The stores in the mall should be able to offer a variety of products for all age groups. New stores can attract customers by holding special contests and promotional events.
Here are some ways through which the stores can contribute to increase the number of customers to the mall
Boutiques - Shopping malls should strive to include local businesses and bespoke/boutique shops in their premises. These unique and locally popular stores help to attract customers from the local community. Botique stores offer unique, handcrafted products which are often considered to be better than the branded products. Latest Collections - All the stores in the shopping mall should be well-stocked and be managed by polite staff members. The stores should carry the latest designs and seasonal collections to stay ahead of the online shopping sites. Well stocked stores often receive good customer traffic and report profits when compared to other stores. The main reason for the success of these stores is their willingness to understand the customer's need to buy the latest products. Promotions - Stores should organize different promotional events to attract customers to the shopping mall.
Promotional events like product demonstrations, interactive sessions with experts are popular with customers. Contests and competitions are also a great way to draw in the crowd to the mall. Stores which do promotional campaigns often become successful in capturing the customer's attention.
Advertising - Advertising plays a major role in promoting the sales in a store. A good advertising campaign is needed to boost the sale numbers and also to create a brand image. Stores in the mall should advertise their latest stock and product features to attract more customers. Electronics stores often invite experts to explain the features of the latest gadgets in a bid to boost sales of that product. These sessions help the customers to understand the product better and encourage them to buy it. Makeup stores also follow similar advertising techniques by inviting stylists and experts to showcase new products.
Limited time offers - A time tested and hugely popular technique to draw in customers is to have a limited time offer. This offer helps to drive up the number of customers visiting the mall. Stores should advertise their stock through limited-time offers on various social media platforms to reach a wider audience. Limited time offers generate curiosity and a fear of missing out on good deals in the customer's mind. This encourages more customers to visist the mall during the offer period.
Free servicing/cleaning options - Free servicing/cleaning offers also help to draw customers to the mall. Customers who wish to avail these offers often end up buying something as they wait. The purchases are often made from the same store which is running the offer.
Tips to Remember
Shopping malls are employing many different tools and strategies to attract customers. Although these strategies help to bring in more revenue, they fail to spike the customer's interest after some time. In such situations it is important to remember that these strategies are only temporary solutions to the problem. A shopping mall must have a steady stream of customers to ensure that it stays in business. Shopping malls should follow a few basic tips to ensure that they remain successful in their endeavors.
Repeat customers - Repeat customers are crucial for the success of a store or a shopping mall. Advertising campaigns and promotional events can help to draw in the crowds on specific days to boost sales. But, these are temporary solutions as these campaigns and sales cannot be conducted regularly. To ensure success, shopping malls should have repeated visits from the customers. Customers who revisit the same store/shopping mall often develop loyalty towards it. Such customers continue to visit the mall even during normal business days as they have developed a sense of familiarity.
Positive Customer Experience - Customers who have a positive shopping experience in a particular store/mall tend to revisit the same place. The mall ambience, display features, store location, inventory, rapport with staff members are some factors which can influence the customer's experience. Mall staff should ensure that all the customers have a positive experience while shopping to help build up a strong customer base.
Team Work - All the staff members employed in the shopping mall should work together as a single unit to ensure its success. Even though the roles and responsibilities of the staff members are different from one another, they should concentrate their efforts to improve customer experience.
Customer Service - Customer service is considered to be the most important aspect of the retail industry. A shopping mall should have well trained, polite staff throughout all the stores and premises to gaurantee customer satisfaction. All the personnel working in the mall should work as a single team to ensure customer satisfaction. Good customer service is the key to ensuring repeat business and for attracting new customers.
Family fun - A shopping mall should be a place where the entire family can have fun while shopping. Most shopping malls are now leasing to toy stores, book stores and free play areas in a bid to engage families in the mall. Shopping malls are now being seen as a space where the entire family can spend their day in.
Future of Shopping Malls
The future of shopping malls looks pretty bleak for most of the players in the market as the retail industry is set to be taken over by the Internet. There are many new technologies that are being tested for their application in the retail field to ensure a better shopping experience.
Staying relevant in the digital age - Shopping malls should adapt themselves to the digital age and make necessary changes in their operation style to ensure success. Shopping malls looking to go digital must have a proper plan and special elements in place before launching themselves online.
Social Media Manager - It is important to hire a good social media manager to create and manage all the social media accounts of the shopping mall. The job responsibilities of a social media manager include
Ensuring good social media presence of the brand with regular tweets, posts and pictures. Engaging potential customers through various platforms by conducting fun online contests.
Conducting different surveys and collecting feedback to improve the customer shopping experience. Running ad campaigns and promotional contests to attract potential customers to the mall. Promoting the latest products through various platforms to generate customer interest.
Official Mall Website - The official website of the shopping mall must be designed and maintained by professionals to ensure a smooth experience. The design of the website should be carefully planned so that online visitors can easily browse through it. The Homepage of the website needs to display the upcoming events in the mall to attract customers. The website needs to maintained and checked regularly to ensure that it works smoothly. A dedicated person should be employed to update the website on a regular basis so that only the latest information is displayed.
Online Sales - Shopping malls can run online sales like the other online shopping platforms to boost their revenues. The sale dates can be advertised through all the social media accounts of the mall to generate more traffic to the website. The official website should carry a full inventory of all the products listed in the sale along other products that are not in sale. This display will allow the customers to make better choices. Having a good delivery system is also important to ensure customer satisfaction.
New Attractions and Upcoming Offers - A shopping mall which has a good online presence can easily promote itself to attract more customers. The official website and various social media pages can be used to advertise new attractions and products in the mall. Upcoming offers and sale dates can be announced through the Internet to reach a wider audience. The ecommerce sites of Macy's and JCPenney are seen as trustworthy, therefore the stores should be heavily promoting their websites in their stores, as well as on their shopping bags and flyers.
Apart from getting online and having a social media presence, shopping malls have to gear up to include these special technological features in the future.
Robot Assistants - Robot assistants can help the customers find the exact product they were looking for with minimal input. If a customer needs a specific tool or spare part, the robot assistant can identify and guide the customer to the product. The robot assistants can also carry a weight of upto 45 pounds and provide baggage assistance when required. These robot assistants are being tried out in various stores across the US.
Smart Mirrors - These mirrors are actually camera screens that help the customer to select an outfit easily. These mirrors provide a 360 degree angle to the customer so that they can check how they look in that outfit. The Smart Mirror also allows the user to send their picture to their friends to get a second opinion before making the purchase.
Augumented Reality - AR is now fast becoming a favorite technolgy among customers. AR allows the customers to experience a product better than the Internet. Sephora has already started to use AR through its mobile app with great results. The AR feature allows Sephora's customers to check how the latest product look on them. Although AR is still being used in a initial stage, there are many different ways in which AR can be used to boost revenue. In future, AR will eliminate the need for provision testers and samples to the customers to help them to check how the product looks on them.
Interactive Window Displays - This technology allows customers to purchase a product from the store window itself without having to step foot in the store. The Interactive Window Displays were first featured in Manhattan in 2015 as an experiment to gauge the customer's reactions.
The way this technology works is that it is installed on the window of the store. Basically this device works like a camera screen which can be used to check how a product looks on the customer. These devices eliminate the need for the customer to physically enter a store or to touch a product to buy it. JCPenney, in collaboration with Pinterest, has recently introduced technology into the dressing rooms that allows shoppers to select items by visualizing outfits on a touchscreen.
Department Store Liquidations - Many department stores, such as Macy's and JCPenney, currently sell their excess and returned merchandise through liquidation channels such as Bstock.com and Liquidation.com, and to discount retailers such as Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and Burlington Coat Factory.
While this is an efficient process to recover a portion of inventory costs, the recovered value is only approximately 5-10% of the cost of the merchandise.
Department stores should consider either eliminating their clearance sections, which potentially can cannibalize their own sales, and instead set up outlet stores within their stores, making it clear that this inventory is from the last season, or is specifically designated clearance inventory. This way the customer will not simply learn to wait until the regular merchandise is placed on a clearance rack.
Store Return Merchandise - This is a challenging category to sell in store, since it can be damaged and reflect poorly on the store. Either it can be sold as is in a basement type area, or refurbished when possible and sold in a specially designated area. Even assuming that 10% of store return merchandise cannot be refurbished, selling the other 90% of the refurbished merchandise at 75% off the original retail, can potentially deliver a better return than liquidating the merchandise at 5-10% of the original cost.