Retailers looking to take full advantage of each store they operate need to consider not only their own value proposition but what the surrounding area offers as well. Malls and outdoor spaces both offer advantages to physical retailers, and making the most of these opportunities is a matter of understanding why and how shoppers are visiting each area, according to Placer.ai’s Retail Corridors and Indoor Malls: A Holiday Head-to-Head report.
One key advantage for both types of retail locations is their speed and convenience compared to digital options. The holiday season is still going strong, for brick-and-mortar retailers in particular, and these stores need to be ready to assist shoppers in finding whatever they’re seeking.
“That push of last-minute shopping is really significant, and there are some retailers that see more visits and more traction in the last two weeks of December than in the last two weeks of November,” said Ethan Chernofsky, VP of Marketing at Placer.ai in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “They do more during the pre-Christmas period than they do on Black Friday and the days that follow. It’s a significant period for demand and being ready and well positioned is critical. But I think there are other pieces, like recognizing that there are other reasons to go out. If people are coming out in the evenings and they’re going out for dinner, or there’s an event that they’re here for, it changes the mentality of the shopper.”
Retailers need to understand the impact of all the relevant events in their vicinity. The holidays in particular are a time for tree lightings, light festivals and other end-of-year celebrations, and retailers should be open and ready to serve potential shoppers who happen to be in the area. The key is understanding that even if these interactions don’t result in a sale, it doesn’t mean that the opportunity was wasted.
“Imagine we go to a to one of these retail corridors and we walk past an UNTUCKit, we have 30 minutes to kill before our movie starts and we decide to walk in and see what it is,” said Chernofsky. “That is the greatest opportunity that UNTUCKit is going to have to convert the two of us into people that will consider a purchase later, even if we buy nothing in the moment. UNTUCKit would spend lots of money to acquire us online or through other channels. The idea is recognizing that there are people who you aren’t going to sell to — not every interaction is just about selling the product. It’s about getting them to fall for the brand and getting them excited about discovery.”
Malls tend to have a greater emphasis on retail than on experiences, but malls can deliver on that last-minute convenience even better than retail corridors due to the sheer density of options. Additionally, they can expect the holiday rush to continue into the coming year.
“The holiday in general has just fundamentally changed,” said Chernofsky. “People get gifts online and then come in that first week of January to return them, and to figure out what they’re going to do with the gift card they now have instead, creating an opportunity to upsell. The customer interaction is not just a single moment in time, but an extended opportunity to convert someone into a long-term customer. That’s where the smartest thinking happens. It allows stores to ask different types of questions and focus on different levels of experience to ultimately perform better in the long term.”
The long-term approach also means it’s important for retailers to examine their holiday strategies beyond the holiday season. Most retailers will have other traffic spikes throughout the year, and maintaining a focus on driving long-term loyalty and catching shoppers as they come from seasonal experiences can ensure a strong performance throughout the calendar year.
“The singular peak of the holiday is obviously very, very important, but for parts of the industry there’s also a back-to-school peak,” said Chernofsky. “There are peaks in different times of the year, so recognize that it’s not just about the holidays. It’s about every time there’s an opportunity. Cognizance of what is happening on a calendar, and how I position myself in that way, is really significant.”