Retailers must offer something extra to fend off online threat: Savills

Shopping centres will need to follow retail strips and start offering products and services that cannot be provided via the internet, according to Savills head of research Tony Crabb.

Crabb says retail strips are already starting to change in response to the growth of online shopping but enclosed centres need to get on board or they will lose business to the strips.

Examples of products and services customers cannot get online and that are growing in prevalence on retail strips are food vendors and hair salons.

He says such changes will need to occur at the enclosed centres where change has been management rather than market driven.

''Strips have and are reacting to the change but enclosed centres will need to get on board and reorganise their mix or lose business to the strips,'' Crabb says.

Savills associate director of retail services Michael Di Carlo says retailers should also investigate the latest technological innovations such at the “multi-channel retailing concept”, which is now the norm in the US and Europe.

Such a multi-channel approach is being pushed by shopping centre giant Westfield, which revealed in its half-year results today that it has signed up 140 retailers to its westfield.com.au transactional site.

Westfield CEO Steven Lowy says the group is embracing digital technology, including the use of the internet, mobile and social media to drive sales into its shopping centres

“With the launch of our transactional website in Australia, we are able to work with retailers in both their physical and online retail strategies,” he says.

Andy Hogg, Savills head of retail project management in Queensland, says creative use of finishes and layouts to establish a more inviting shopping experience is very important, “coupled with clever use of technology through customer interface products and digital media”.

Such an approach, he says, has been adopted by Australia Post GPO refurbishment in Brisbane.

The store will offer a dedicated area for online shopping and a 24-hour zone where customers can purchase products via a vending machine.

“What we are seeing starting to emerge now are pro-active retail clients changing the face of their store to combat the online retailing trend. They are not sitting on their hands, but rather are coming up with exciting new ideas and innovations in retail design to give their customers an experience they cannot get online,” he says.

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer

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