Thursday, February 02, 2017

Digital Marketing Saving the American Mall

Digiday published a blog today about the demise of the American mall, citing the failure of strip malls and malls anchored by failing department stores.  “Good” and vibrant malls were described as re-invigorating themselves by brining in experience-based businesses, like theatres, restaurants and workout gyms.  Another key feature of the successful mall is digital navigation and mobile-enabled maps.

The article cited a statistic – there are apparently 1,221 malls in the United States.  The International Council of Shopping Centers report that 550 malls generate only 28 percent of total mall revenue and will likely close.

The article described the way digital in-store activations and mobile integration was driving in-store sales.  I think this article is over-stating the situation.  While many malls are having trouble, I see this as a transition, not an ending.  People may order more on Amazon and online, but they still want and need a physical experience. 

What I find intriguing is the way digital advertising can be targeted based on geography and how it can infuse or enhance the physical shopping experience.  From my experience, I still appreciate the real-world shopping experience, but I no longer accept the inventory available in the store.  I shop in the analog world, but if the item doesn’t exist in my size, or the color I want, I shift immediately to online and order the product on the website.

Being able to use technology, such as beacons to track where I am in the store, send me coupons, alerts and connect me with a store representative would enhance my experience.  As digital becomes more integrated into our lives, more mobile and further away from a desktop environment, I predict mall businesses will embrace it as a method of igniting the real-world shopping experience vs. killing it.

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