The Problem

How can a prominent mall developer help retailers transform technological disruption from a threat to an opportunity?

Traditional retailers (especially in shopping malls) are struggling to compete with leaner, bigger, more innovative competitors that also offer online shopping. This leaves most in-store customer experiences lagging behind their eCommerce counterparts, resulting in lost opportunities for retailers, and mall developers. We wanted to put the customer back at the centre of retail, and to do that, we had to overcome much resistance to change, complicated by retailer perceptions of malls as their ‘landlords’ rather than partners in innovation.

*Out of respect for our client’s privacy, the client’s name and project details are omitted.

The Insight

From techno-centric to customer-centric innovation

To compete at the speed of change, a collective rethink of the usage of commercial retail spaces was critical. The client set up a resource to help retailers grow sales by showcasing emerging technology solutions (e.g. magic mirrors, beacons, robot waiters) they deemed vital for tenants. However, retailers in the business of ‘bricks and mortar’ already threatened by online shopping were understandably resistant to adopting new technologies that felt far-removed from the comfort of face-to-face customer service.

Our key insight was that retailers were most attentive to the customer experience and shopper needs. We proposed a customer-centric (rather than techno-centric) approach to help the mall engage with retailers in a language they could relate to: the language of customer experience.

Moments of truth

From adopting, to embracing technology

To help the client overcome inertia from retailers about change, we developed a ‘people-first’ framework and stakeholder engagement blueprint that involved leading by example. We repositioned the mall’s internal incubator as an ‘explorium’, a special place retailers could visit to understand the fascinating array of options and best practices for enhancing their own customers’ shopping experience.

The explorium’s highly tactile, immersive, interactive space served as a visible demonstration to retailers of the full spectrum of technological capabilities, in a highly practical, relevant manner. This strategy helped retailers not only realise the need for change, but to be inspired and excited about the possibilities.

Delight by design

Firing imaginations and fuelling ambitions to shape the spaces of tomorrow

The brand strategy, blueprint and communications framework ultimately aligned stakeholders and aided the client’s repositioning  from ‘slow-moving landlord’ to a catalyst for retailer innovation. The result? A marvellous explorium of emerging technologies bringing out the best thinking, sparking creative energy, and ultimately empowering retailers to transform technological change into an opportunity for serving their customers better.