Experiential shopping motivates consumers in a changing retail landscape

How do malls create inspiring shopping environments for consumers who crave more experience, but are more difficult to entertain than ever before? 

Amanda Stops, CEO of the South African Council of Shopping Centres

Amanda Stops, CEO of the South African Council of Shopping Centres

“Shopping is evolving rapidly,” says South African Council of Shopping Centres CEO Amanda Stops. “Today’s shoppers want to be engaged and delighted as part of their shopping experience. This means they want more than the option to visit a mall’s entertainment court. They want unique experience inside each store they visit.”

Research company Urban Studies, which specialises in property and urban markets, reveals that this trend is only going to grow in future. Dirk Prinsloo of Urban Studies, explains that generations growing up with technology and entertainment at their thumbs – from gaming consuls to smartphones – are not easily impressed, nor are they entertained in ways that shoppers of the past were.

“The changing way in which shoppers seek to be entertained can be seen in the flagging support of traditional mall entertainment,” says Stops.

The popularity of cinemas, for instance, is waning. Urban Studies reveals that, in the USA the number of cinema screens has decreased from almost 28,000 to less than 22,000 screens. Similarly in South Africa, cinemas are either showing a sideways trend or declining support, even with 3D movies putting new life into this entertainment experience.

“What shoppers want is for their actual shopping experience – browsing, selecting, trying, buying – to be entertaining,” says Stops. “To meet consumer needs, retailers must focus on customer experiences. Experiential shopping will drive shopper appeal.”

Among retailers engaging clients in interesting ways, Urban Studies notes US jean store Industrie Denim. It starts by giving shoppers a matchless selection of the world’s top denim brands at a wide range of price points, collaborating with over 80 denim manufacturers around the globe. Industrie Denim goes on to offer an Ass Camera or “booty cam” fitting room experience. This closed-circuit camera lets shoppers see how a pair of jeans looks from every angle, including the back, to confirm a perfect fit.

This compelling quest for perfect jeans is backed up with an in-store ‘Jean-ius’ to help find the right make and cut for your shape, and expert in-house alterations.

“This concept gives shoppers the opportunity to try and fully experience their purchase in a fun way. Its combination of product, experience and service successfully integrates buying and entertainment,” says Stops. “We should see more of this experiential shopping in future.”

Urban Studies believes that experiential shopping will drive the fastest growing product categories in future, especially where standard products can be personalised. Personal care products, like fragrances and a wide range of lotions and potions for body and hair, are top among these.

Stops adds: “Malls and shops are becoming more showcase and less stockroom. Imagination and innovation are driving the latest advances in the competitive and changing retail landscape.”

For more information on the South African Council of Shopping Centres


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