Retail in Asia

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China’s malls of the future: using new technologies for digital marketing with smart design elements

China’s malls of the future will be those that embrace powerful new technological capacities made for digital marketing and incorporate smart design elements to meet increasing consumer and retailer needs – differentiating the retail experience, a new report says.

Taubman Asia, a subsidiary of the US Mall operator Taubman Centres released a whitepaper report China Mall 2020 with real estate information provider Mingtiandi on Tuesday. The report analyses the challenges and opportunities for retail in the world’s second largest economy and provides a holistic overview and insights on the swift growth and dynamics of Chinese consumer behaviours over the past 15 years.

There are several key drivers that will inform the future development and success of Chinese malls highlighted in the report:

1. Mall management, including leasing practices that ensure a mix of retailers that appeals to the consumers within an individual project’s catchment area, will need to be developed at a pace at least as rapid as the creation of new mall structures.

2. Shopping centre designs will need to be rethought to accommodate shoppers looking for cultural and social experiences as much as for visitors looking to tick items off their shopping lists.

3. Integration of digitally-enabled strategies, such as online-to-offline (O2O) and big-data level resources will be needed to bring management of offline retail onto a par with online competitors.

4. Adoption of mobile technologies, such as location-based services, to meet consumer demand for on-the-go research in stores, will be needed to keep in tune with a market of mobile-connected shoppers.

While media reports often focus on how the macro environment has played a key role for a shopping slowdown sweeping the country, China Mall 2020 forecasts the sustainable growth of Chinese consumption, and suggests the cause of the retail sector’s struggles might lie more on bullish planning and early optimism of some retailers.

Similarly, while addressing the threats of an online retailing boom, the in-depth study showcases how traditional retailers and mall developers are on their way to fine-tune their marketing strategies, leveraging new technologies to drive more business.

China Mall 2020 also analyses how the unique social context in China has evolved shopping malls from a shopping oriented destination to a public space cultivating social and cultural experience for the Chinese population.

"In order to remain competitive in 2020, mall operators should work together with retail brands to continually innovate online to offline offerings to bring the convenience and power of the internet into the shopping centre. Effective use of social media and online marketing should become an even higher priority and should join these efforts with big data and analytics to continuously improve their offerings," says René Tremblay, president of Taubman Asia.

To download the full report, click here.