Retailers and shopping center owners need to do more than put products on shelves and hope that consumers will buy them. Retail business of the future needs to provide more of an overall experience to keep up with other channels of commerce, such as the internet, agreed panelists at the International Council of Shopping Centers' Western division conference in San Diego, CA in September.
The job of the retail landlord is to bridge the gap between the consumer and the creative departments of manufacturers, said Kenneth Wong, president of U.S. operations for Westfield Corp., "What are the new forms of relationships between consumers and retailers?," he asks. "To help bring these customers and creative folks together."
"One retailer that does a good job of this is Apple," said Sophie Bundalo, head of retail for sunglasses manufacturer Oakley Inc. Apple's main strength is its ability to reach shoppers through a variety of channels, including its stores and website.
"One thing that Oakley did differently was place its product out where customers could touch it or try it on," Bundalo said. "For us to have everything locked up makes no sense whatsoever."
In addition, retailers and real estate owners shouldn't be afraid to innovate and try new things, Wong said. "Consumers are more open minded than our partners in the industry."
The one thing that won't change any time soon is the consumers' desire to shop in retail centers, said David Rogers, partner and director of design at the Jerde Partnership, a retail design firm based in Venice, CA. "People like to get together and be together," he concluded.
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