For relevancy’s sake: a tale of two mall upgrades
Developers have a big stake in reinventing the shopping experience. Shopping center companies and mall operators around the world are upgrading properties to appeal to today’s shoppers. Here’s a tale of two cities’ centers:
I recently visited the Costanera Center in Santiago, Chile, the largest mall and highest observatory in Latin America. It offers many of the upmarket global brands one would expect. It also features hospitality and entertainment establishments, including dining, cinemas and a 360-degree view of Santiago and the Andes.
But what I really loved about the center was that its 300+ stores were organized thematically by floors. Gifts were on the first floor, women’s on the second floor, sporting goods on the fourth floor, etc. This makes it so easy for visitors to find their way around, browse and buy exactly the right merchandise — in my case, souvenir local football apparel, Chilean wine and spices. It’s such a smart strategy to group related merchandise by location, especially given that it’s a really large property. And I expect that this layout improves overall experience, navigation and conversion for visitors as well as regular, local shoppers.
At home in San Diego, the Westfield University Town Center (UTC), originally opened in 1977, is just finishing up a major renovation. UTC took a multi-year, multi-prong strategy in its approach to freshen up. There is a revamped anchor (Nordstrom), new boutique brands, inviting and comfortable common spaces in which one can relax, and lots of dining options. Nearly everyone I know is most excited about the new hospitality destinations, making a special trip to UTC to dine, and as practically an after-thought, walking through to see what new specialty brands are making their local debut.
The crowds at both of these locations show that while retailers and brands can’t forget the basics — interesting products and high-quality service — operators in both hemispheres are updating their recipes. It was great to see excitement injected into properties through better curating shopping patterns, refreshing assortments and attention-grabbing hospitality and entertainment options.
- Costanera Center
- Westfield University Town Center
- I ate my way through the revamped UTC mall. Here’s what I found. – San Diego Union-Tribune
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Given consumers’ mandate for variety, comfort, entertainment and excitement, what are the best strategies and tactics for drawing traffic to malls today? Do you think thematically-organized merchandise floors or areas in U.S. malls would be successful?