The popularity of community retailing is rising fast, changing the way brands and shopping centres interact with their customers.
It’s a concept which Stone Island has grabbed by the horns as demonstrated by its new Munich store. Complementing its futuristic interior are features designed to build engagement. The aim is to be ‘part store, part community hub’ with a multi-functional auditorium featuring tiered seating for community events.
Stone Island is not alone in focusing on community retailing. Lululemon was one of the first with the launch of experiential stores offering fitness classes and community events to help attract and retain customers.
More recently, Merry Hill, became the first shopping centre in the UK to welcome a community-focused Nike Unite concept store. A variety of experiences are on offer, including the Made to Play programme. This initiative supports nearby schools and charities, providing tools and opportunities for children to stay active, while inspiring Nike’s employees to help make a difference in the community.
So why is community retailing on the rise?
As more shoppers return to physical stores, the need to elevate the customer experience and drive loyalty is paramount. Community retailing is proving to be highly effective in meeting that need.
By improving connections with local communities, retailers can not only enhance engagement but create a sense of belonging and stronger customer relationships.
As far as physical spaces are concerned, this approach is centred on creating multi-functional stores and shopping centres offering a variety of events, activities and services all tailored to the communities they serve. As well as attracting customers and encouraging them to stay, these unique experiences are bringing brands and their values to life.
Liverpool One for example, has adapted its offer to meet local needs, improving the customer experience and connections. New stores and retail concepts have launched at the centre in recent years alongside a growing food and beverage offer. This community-driven expansion has seen it evolve into a city centre destination where people can meet, engage and interact.
Bridging the gap
Although physical spaces and in-person experiences are at the heart of community retailing, the digital environment has a vital role to play too.
Finding ways to better engage with customers before they physically enter a store or shopping centre further strengthens connections. This can be achieved by deploying technology which provides more effective communication as well as opportunities for customers to engage with a brand.
The Mallcomm platform for example is being used by retail operators across the globe to keep shoppers and tenants connected as part of their community retail strategies.
The technology creates a digital hub that seamlessly connects all those who work at, or visit, a place including occupiers, management teams, suppliers and customers. Key information and communication are centralised through the platform with a range of features tailored to people’s needs.
The latest news and information relating to a retail store or centre, including special offers, events, and competitions, can be accessed whenever and wherever people want. Similarly, the technology can be used to promote events or offers from local businesses or to inform users of relevant local organisations or charities such as those which support wider wellbeing strategies.
To further strengthen a sense of community, tenants can share and promote job opportunities and events, all using the Mallcomm platform.
Bespoke feedback forms, polls and surveys can also be created to help encourage conversations with customers and tenants, making them feel valued and increasing their sense of belonging.
With community retailing set to accelerate, a growing number of retailers and shopping centres are shifting their strategies with a focus on unique experiences, relationship building and bringing people together.
Digital tools can play a crucial, and highly effective, role in these strategies, strengthening connections between customers, retailers, operators, and other local businesses. Tailored in the right way, the technology can bring a space to life at the touch of a button, and most importantly, enhance engagement with all those who form part of a growing retail community.
If you would like to discover how Mallcomm can support your community retail strategy, contact us below