Brick-and-mortar stores and indoor shopping malls are struggling, with over half of respondents reporting they do most of their shopping online, according to a recent survey. However, even amid the discussion of the ‘death of malls’, brick-and-mortar stores can influence those seeking a one-stop shopping destination with strategic updates and incentives.
Valassis, a leader in activating consumers through intelligent media delivery, has released new research highlighting consumers’ pain points and preferences when it comes to the indoor shopping mall experience.
The report says that there are a number of reasons consumers make the trek to a mall instead of shopping online. For instance, over 60 per cent of respondents said they are more likely to shop for apparel in a mall as opposed to through an e-commerce channel. Given the opportunity to visit multiple retailers and complete several purchases in one location (which 39 per cent found valuable), as well as try on and compare clothing options, this is a clear advantage that malls have over online storefronts.
The survey found mall shopping also offers other advantages including the social aspect of outings with family and friends (24 per cent); convenience for quick gift purchases (20 per cent); a full-day experience that may include dining and entertainment (19 per cent); and the ability to compare prices and products across multiple stores (18 per cent).
“While the retail industry is certainly being disrupted, brick-and-mortar stores are not going anywhere,” said Curtis Tingle, chief marketing officer, Valassis. “However, they do need to evolve to meet modern shoppers’ expectations. Consumers want convenience, product options and incentives and all brick-and-mortar retailers, especially malls, need to understand their audience so they can provide an experience that makes visiting worthwhile. Whether that’s offering more discounts, valet parking or incorporating in-store technology, it’s all about catering to customers’ preferences and differentiating the in-store and online experiences.”
Valassis’ survey not only uncovered factors that drive shoppers to malls, but also those that steer them away. Respondents prefer shopping online – as opposed to at a mall – for a broader range of product options/variations (40 per cent); avoiding hectic crowds/parking (38 per cent), not having to travel (24 per cent) and reducing impulse purchases (16 per cent).
On the flip-side, these shoppers can be encouraged to visit indoor malls with more opportunities for savings/discounts (59 per cent); better parking accommodations, such as valet (20 per cent); events such as pop-up shops and giveaways (18 per cent); and onsite grocery shopping options (17 per cent).
Technology is coming to indoor malls, but more can be done, as per the report. About 24 per cent of surveyed shoppers have experienced cashier-less checkout services and 20 per cent have used digital wallets or payment systems in-store via apps. Another 7 per cent have interacted with digital/voice assistants and augmented or virtual reality experiences. However, over half (51 per cent) of respondents have yet to encounter innovative technologies, providing a ripe opportunity for retailers to attract new, curious audiences.
According to RetailMeNot, retailers are working to increase their use of technology, with 39 per cent looking to employ voice-assisted shopping and 51 per cent placing a bigger focus on offers/discounts exclusive to mobile app users.
Shoppers want convenience, in the form of minimal wait time and easy check-out (25 per cent); ability to receive the product sooner (21 per cent); customer assistance/service (18 per cent); option to return online purchases in-store (13 per cent) or buy online and pick-up in-store (11 per cent); and using mobile apps to redeem coupons and pay (11 per cent).
Malls have room for improvement – the top three things consumers want to see more of when shopping at these locations are savings, coupons and deals, shorter lines and wait times, and more access to in-store customer service reps.
Using Google Consumer Surveys, Valassis surveyed approximately 1,000 consumers who have been identified as ‘regular mall shoppers’ (those that have visited a mall more than three times within the past year). For the purposes of this survey, a ‘mall’ has been defined in the traditional sense of an indoor shopping centre. All respondents were located in the US and were over the age of 18. The survey was conducted in May 2018.