Gary Burrows, Managing Director & Rupert Wood, Executive Advisor, Malls and Meeting Places at FitForCommerce, a global strategy & advisory company conclude their discussion on how companies must adapt to the merging of the digital and the physical customer journey, experience and the growth of online as a result of Covid-19 and its effect on retail, landlords, malls and meeting places.
Futurist William Gibson said: “The future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed.” The same can be applied to the current situation in real estate, as traditional retailers like Alshaya, with 100 brands under management, build and operate malls & meeting places, such as The Avenues in Kuwait. This has worked so well for them, that they are building a massive new mixed use project in KSA. This truly merges the retailer and mall owner/ operator into one seamless model that allows transparent dataflow on both sides, resulting in an improved personalised customer journey and experience. Due to the current retail crisis, Brookfield Asset Management, the mall and meeting place developer, owner and operator, have recently rescued Forever 21. They have also just announced a $5bn dollar rescue fund for other retailers and tenants of their malls. This will enable a breakdown of barriers and create a singular business model of retailer and mall owner. Is this the unevenly distributed future that William Gibson was talking about?
Retailers are struggling to adapt and evolve to the breath-taking pace of change, created by this new reality that has condensed a slow decline into a matter of months. With a scramble for e-commerce platforms, new logistics processes, store to door, last mile delivery, curb side pick-up or click and collect. Many retailers and operators have already fallen by the wayside, and many more will do so over the short-term. The prolonged closure of physical assets has exposed the fragile online business models of retailers, resulting in the bankruptcy of household name brands. We could highlight fashion trends, poor inventory buying and inability to adapt to or adequately predict consumer behaviour. Whilst these are all contributory factors, one of the fundamental flaws of those failing brands is that they did not invest in digital and e-commerce when the times were good.