Localization of these multi-purpose common areas will make them different than the 1980's triple-decker, symmetrical "mall." More people travel than ever, so it's very obvious when the same stores are in every mall.
Creating natural common areas is tougher than it sounds when a mass of individuals wearing ear buds are in the same spot all focused on convenience. Rotating Arts exhibits (all forms of Arts) would give people pause, and a chance to exchange ideas.
Pulling together retailers/vendors based on cultural and lifestyle commonalities could work too. An organic farmer's market, noon time food stalls for business people and a Sur La Table type store that can hold classes in organic foods and recipes.
But agree with all that say the word "mall" is still rather tainted with days of yore.
The department store model exhausted itself years ago. Why is there no re-invention to lifestyle and lifestage at the store level? Ok, there is a "college" section in bedding and a wedding registry section in housewares, but no serious addressing of wrapping it all together (e.g. a vacation department, split between warm weather & cold weather).
Target and Walmart have advantage that many stores are one floor, or easy elevator access and you can roll a cart right through from home to beauty to food, and it piles up (in $$) a lot more than hand carrying ten apparel items looking for an unlocked changing room.
Last, department stores need to hire staff that is marketing savvy, not just first time hourly workers. Staff needs to be on fire for the store and know what the store's values are (hint hint to management). Then they can address consumer needs based on all elements of the store (not just the floor area they work). Staff is an untapped resource, but unfortunately usually the first to be cut from budget.
What is a store without personable staff? It's called online.
How key this is: "Above all, have a passion for your brand and let it show." How often can you walk into a store and store help is so knowledgeable about the brand and USPs, that he/she can pair those to what you are looking for at that instance? All I seem to hear is "50% sale rack is against the back wall." That without saying a word. Next time I will blatantly ask, "What about my body language said I was bargain shopping?" In fact the opposite is true, as a petite size, it would be near impossible to find my size on the leftovers rack.
As DSW is not an athletic shoe store, a better variation would be a dance floor with a wall timer to see how long a woman can dance in heels before they hurt like he$$. I do agree, however, that the store locations chosen for the nail offering should not be in mini-malls where there are already nail salons. Besides competition, it would DOWNplay the already less-than-needed-wow-factor of the service.
At what point does leadership use their own personal shopping as a gauge of where their store is in comparison to the winners and laggards? Or does top brass always have personal shoppers and say, "I never online shop"?
Agree: "buying from anywhere and delivering to everywhere." As customer, why should your legacy systems be my problem? Other competitors are figuring it out, so I'll go there ... no "points system" loyalty program is going to hold me to a store that can't deliver their own inventory.
I'd add ... not really understanding what consumers want, and are getting used to from the leading retail winners. Even if your business does not appear to be global, your customers are global shoppers.
True: "You can buy inexpensive shoes in any number of places." AND...with credit card price-matching programs you can get brand name shoes where you want to buy and then electronically get a price difference back when you screenshot a lower price.