Experience is Key

Retail centers across the country are undergoing significant transformations, as owners shake up their tenant mixes and add targeted experiential components. The addition of restaurants, live entertainment, healthcare offices and fitness to many retail properties is helping to revitalize the sector — and create opportunities for investors.

According to RCM’s recent Retail Investor Sentiment Report, investors are drawn to properties that are being reinvented to appeal to today’s consumer. That shopper wants more than clothing and soft goods.  They want an experience that is convenient, entertaining, easy to navigate, and aligned with technology that drives the shopping, ordering and buying process.

Many consumers turn to their mobile devices first to preview store selections, read online reviews and even place their order before going to a store. Retailers that offer this tech savvy convenience and then greet customers in the store with bottled water and an offer to check inventory, match a competitor’s online sale price and check out from a handheld POS device are more likely to win over customers and secure a return visit.

Thanks to the growth in e-commerce, malls are now competing in a new landscape and providing a rich experience that will motivate shoppers to return again and again. The overall retail transformation is both a challenge and an opportunity for the retail sector—and is considered the means for capturing and enhancing value and investment returns.

Retail owners that look closely at demographics and retool their offerings based on consumer buying patterns are positioning themselves well for the future. Some owners are looking at replacing a portion of the retail space with other uses, such as a multifamily element.

Challenging times call for creative measures to produce valued and desired outcomes.  We’re seeing some of that creativity as retailers reinvent themselves in the face of the challenges brought to light by e-commerce and other shifting consumer buying patterns.”

This new age of retail is not without its challenges, but investors are seeing promising results with these consumer-centric strategies. Consumers today have many ways to shop. They may go the full e-commerce buying and fulfillment route, buy online and then pick up their merchandise  curbside or in the store, or they may use POS systems in the store that helps them avoid lines and be on their way.. Savvy retail owners are embracing that reality — and betting that a positive experience will help motivate shoppers to keep engaging with bricks and mortar venues.

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