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Shopping mall of the 21st century: more than a place to shop

It would be difficult to imagine cities’ landscape without shopping centres these days.

They are much more than a place of pruchasing goods. What do customers expect from them?

The history of department stores goes back to the 19th century. Their role in shaping the habits of society is stronger than it might seem. At the beginning, the shopping arcades offer was basically a response to the trends. At the same time, the number of potential consumers grew because of the transformation of the industry. Gradually, the approach to the act of purchasing goods changed, giving green light to buying products previously seen as redundant. Entrepreneurs sensed this new trend and broadened their range of goods. With this, a new question arose: how to make sale more attractive?

It is not common knowledge that already at the turn of 19th and 20th century department stores were not only shopping destinations. Such places as Le Bon Marche in Paris made the architecture of department stores and the process of purchasing goods go through a huge transformation. Moreover, the owners of the stores were not only responding to consumer’s needs. They began to create new needs. At the beginning of the 20th century, the tradition of giving Christmas gifts was not widespread. It was Selfridge that used the atmosphere of holidays (smell of cinnamon, Christmas tree, Santa Claus etc.) for commercial purpose in its department store in London. This triggered revolution.

Today, seasonality in retail is a rule. The role of shopping centers is still in the process of adjusting, aiming to respond to the demographic and technological changes, as well as societal. An example of this would be the fact that it was the retail policy and its marketing that created woman as a new consumer.

As the present-day customers gain awareness. They know that the retail industry has a lot to offer them today. Now customers can easily benefit from a wide range of products on the internet or move easily from one end of city to another, often using free transport, to find a better deal, then dine, drink coffee, watch a movie or even do gymnastics without actually leaving the shopping mall. This is the key element of retail strategies in the 21st century: to win the customers hearts and time.

All these factors play a vital role in finding new solutions, designed to keep customers in shopping malls for longer, aiming to make malls an integral part of local lifestyle. Therefore, the modern concept of commercial centers offer much more than a wide range of brands to choose from.

Diverse gastronomic offer became one of the strategic ways to make retail space a meeting place. Gone are the times when hungry customers could count only for fast food menu.

Being responsive to new trends allows for example to new open bioshops, juice bars or only vegan/vegetarian menus in retail space. Customers are becoming more socially and ecologically aware, therefore the retail offer expands. A postal service or city hall information desk are not an unusual view in a shopping mall these days. Incorporating commercial offices and health and wellness facilities into retail space is already a present trend.

These changes will have a significant impact on the shape of “the leisure zone” in shopping centres. According to market data, about 15 percent of space of every shopping centre in Poland is made to serve as “the leisure zone” .Some malls go one step further, as Posnania. This shopping mall based in Poznań reserved 25 percent of its space for the leisure zone.

The story does not end here. As retail specialists indicate, we can expect further changes to retail space and the way customers use it. Stores will no longer function as a shopping destination only, gaining more interest as a forum for presentation of products and branding. Click-and-collect service will become more popular in cafes, restaurants, beauty parlors and service points, in accordance with the needs of the local customers. New technologies and methods of payment will be explored. The future of shopping malls will be an interesting thing to watch, without a doubt.

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