Our recently published article explored Mall 2.0 in America – or how malls can adapt by embracing change, not fearing it.
On the simplest level, malls will survive by focusing on alternatives to clothing stores that involve experience and entertainment, including stores for major purchases like furniture, and utilizing smart technology with integrated social media. Malls should also emphasize quality instead of expanding for the sake of it, and offer shoppers everyday staples like drug stores instead of just impulse items.
How can this be applied to the Staten Island retail sector? We have some ideas based on malls that are succeeding today.
High Priced Necessities, Not Luxuries
Retailers such as Cache and Bebe have shut their doors completely from the dwindling luxury market. Still more brands, like Sak’s and True Religion, have been whittled to a fraction of their former empires.
While luxury apparel is never a sure bet, expensive purchases like furniture and fine jewelry are good to include in a mall setting. These purchases are rarely done online since the shopper prefers to get a feel for them in person.
The Staten Island Mall offers large ticket purchases in stores like Mattress Firm, Macy’s Furniture Gallery, The Apple Store, and Goff Jewelers. However, the largest category of retail spaces on their website is “women’s clothing”. Available spaces that are large enough could be rented to more stable and profitable stores such as home furnishings. Despite mall stereotypes, modern shopping centers do not need such a heavy focus on female apparel.
Emphasize Experience, Not Material Things
With more debt and modest salaries, Millennials are after a different shopping experience. Young people under 35 also do not acquire physical possessions in the volume their parents have. This generation likes experience and entertainment options at the mall and do much of their apparel shopping online.
How can the Staten Island Mall include more leisure? First, the mall could include more fun options for children, such as playgrounds, science exploration like aquatic touch tanks found at the ultra-successful Mall of America, or rented motorized carts shaped like animals found in many New Jersey malls. Kids have parents of course- adults who could be tempted to check out the surroundings too!
Young adults love gathering in meeting spots. Full service restaurants, bars, high-end food courts, spas and gyms are great additions to shopping malls that attract this demographic. Mall ambience should make the space a fun place to stroll with friends, something a shopper can’t get online. The Staten Island Mall could also rent storefronts out to more venues that focus on experience as opposed to traditional apparel.
Savvy Social Media and Smart Technology
It’s no secret that we are living in a digital age. Malls who resist this fact and blame technology for their decline will suffer. Instead, malls can show off their creativity by welcoming the rise in smart technology!
How can the Staten Island Mall become more inventive with smart technology? With the new parking garage, shoppers could use a parking app to find spaces ahead of time – we all know how tough parking at the mall can be! Modern malls are now using what we call “retail-tainment” where spaces integrate viewing screens to increase the fun factor. Using a predetermined hashtag, shoppers using technology from SocialWall have the chance for their social posts to be featured on a large screen! Let’s face it- everyone loves to feel famous, even if just for a moment.
The mall could also benefit from fun social media interaction. Running contests to encourage liking, commenting, sharing and follows through Facebook and Intagram is a great way we have increased engagement at RealEstateSINY.com, and there is no reason to think it would not work in retail as well. At Alabama’s Midtown Village, shoppers can post a selfie in front of their favorite store for a chance to win a $500 cash voucher to use at their choice shop!
At the end of the day, the key is in working with the changing times and not using traditional methods that worked when the economy and digital culture were different. Our modern age is difficult at times, but can also be very exciting. We are hoping that renovations at the Staten Island Mall will embrace the modern age and allow it to thrive!
Image source: flikckr user andrewarchy