Maxence Liagre, CEO of MPC Properties, shares with us his insights on how to get visitors back to shopping centers in 2021!
Placemaking is a process. It is a means to an end: the creation of Quality Places.
In the last few years, the placemaking strategy for the shopping center industry has become indisputable, whether we consider performing assets or future developments.
Year 2020 has just emphasized this, thus increasing pressure for its implementation as the reality of mother nature and the sudden need for social distancing has pushed even more customers to embrace e-commerce.
Since the debut of the concept, placemaking in shopping centers evolved a lot, from an initially architectural approach, it then added new layers every year: socializing, networking, shopping, dining, living, working, etc. The concept seems to have no limits because it embraces everything about all kinds of people, all kinds of lifestyles for all kinds of communities.
Placemaking in shopping centers is a single concept made of multiple components.
This year, the two most important aspects that stand-out are health and accelerated full e-commerce integration.
Tackling Health Concerns
Health concerns will not disappear from people’s minds and habits as Covid subsides. Shopping centers in the future should remain ‘safe zones’ as they had previously been for decades in terms of security.
Visitors should feel relaxed and protected while visiting shopping centers and the future will surely bring an integration of preventive measures and policies into an expected part of the shopping center landscape.
We will, however, need to adapt our communication so as to switch from a fear-inducing and stress-provoking tone to a calm, confident, and reassuring softer approach. Doing this will change the image perception of shopping centers being the ‘risky places’ that lockdowns first targeted.
Additionally, we will remain alert for any future challenges, keeping in mind that placemaking is about health, happiness, and wellbeing.
An additional challenge of our placemaking strategy for shopping centers is E-commerce and its increasing importance in people’s lives, so we need full determination in quickly integrating it in the best possible way.
We need to be proactive and lead the process of bringing e-commerce into our centers, realizing that we have many arguments against doing so. This means establishing a centralized ‘click and collect’ high-quality services for our tenants and customers by dedicating proper resources and spaces.
Shopping centers should become e-commerce destinations of preference, as we have the capability to add the ‘physical experience’ to the e-shopping convenience, thus bringing back sales and visitors to our centers.
Aside from our tenants, we should also offer those services to all pure e-commerce operators as a qualitative and economic alternative to classic delivery networks.
A Shopping Center Boom in 2021
Further potential and possibilities are practically endless, as the core idea of placemaking is about creating high-quality destinations where people want to be.
As the expectations for 2021, at least with regards to the second half of it, should be a better year for our industry, so now is the perfect time to act.
Just as the ‘baby-boom’ was a result of a sudden explosion of freedom following a long period of frustration, we can realistically expect a ‘shopping center boom’ later next year.
It is for this reason that we need to prepare ourselves to be more attractive, to show that we have changed, that we are even better, and that this forced separation has taught us to value our much-loved customers on a completely new level.