The mall of the future, already available in Asia
Asian Summer - All summer, a series of articles to understand the Asian market.
A space for sharing, experience and living in harmony with one's surroundings: this is what the shopping centre could be in the years to come. Guided visit in 9 steps based on innovations mainly seen in Asia in recent months:
1. In harmony with the city
Shopping centres follow urban trends and are become better integrated to their environment:
Like Decathlon Singapore Lab, which will open in January. Over 5000 m2 of floor space dedicated to the sporting experience, immersive innovative facilities (AR-VR) and the very best sustainable construction: vegetation facade, outside sports court, and a solar roof for supplying the building's power.
Closer to home, new operators, such as the French "Sous les fraises", are investing in the roofs of shopping centres and installing permaculture. Vegetable patches, bee hives, flowers and herbs are cultivated for the centre's restaurants, local companies or simply to provide a place for visitors to stroll. Galeries Lafayette and the BHV in Paris have already built gardens of around 1500 m2 with over 20,000 plant varieties
2. Cafés and relaxation areas on the roof
This trend will increase, with rooftops and event spaces more and more likely to merit a visit by themselves. This is the case, for example, for the historic SKYE on the 56th floor of the Grand-Indonesia Mall in Jakarta
3. Just play!
Game rooms in the colours of Pokemon for younger visitors and e-sport competitions for young adults: gaming attracts IRL millennials, while e-sport will be an official sport at the 2022 Asian Games (and a demonstration event in 2018). The mobile game, Arena of Valor, is already the subject of competitions offering considerable prizes in malls.
4. Learning and having fun
DIY or cookery lessons? Two good ways of winning over customers and increasing loyalty by sharing a sustainable passion.
5. Theme stores
A natural store and a designer store, both under the shopping centre's own brand name: this has been successfully developed at the K11 centre in Hong Kong.
K11 Natural brings together suppliers of local, organic, zero waste and ethical products, from the French brand Edgar, to the Swedish brand Moreganic. The store also includes a restaurant.
The K11 design store offers a precise selection of design objects, some of which are exclusive.
6. A meeting place for companies and startups
In Singapore, the crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter, has chosen a mall for its project leaders to present themselves. A good way for a new product to meet its audience.
But, older companies are also profiting from the shopping centre audience to tend to their brand image. The Mitsubishi group presents its elevator business and its greatest achievement: the fastest elevator in the world, at the Shanghai Tower.
7. Pick-up points everywhere
In Japan, Rakuten installs them widely, giving a use to the less rewarding areas of the shopping centre.
8. A check-out free zone for everyday purchases
Although Amazon Go was the first to launch this experiment, and plans to launch 6 stores in the United States, China is very active in check-out-free and staff-free stores, especially for small areas (18-25 m2). This model brings new profitability to the small family business, stocked with merchandise by members of the family without the need to hire employees. Among the players in this competition between the "boxes" are Auchan Minute and JD.com.
Faced with such new opportunities, malls must react on a daily basis to retain their clientele. April Gourmet has just opened a store of 140 m2 at the Damei Central Plaza mall in Peking, offering a selection of top-of-the-range imported products.
These facilities are based on QR code technology interfaced with a WeChat and/or JD.com customer account. Since last September, Alibaba has been testing its "smile to pay" function, a payment method based on facial recognition, in Hanzhou's KFC restaurant.
9. A new underground world
We already know that the role of the automobile is undergoing profound change. In Paris, for example, Jean-Louis Missika, Deputy Mayor responsible for town planning and architecture, thinks that driver-less cars will free up 80 % of parking space. This is an opportunity for shopping areas to rethink their ground floor and underground space: some parking space will be transformed into service space (electric charging points, and drop-off points for car-sharing and driver-less cars). Other areas could be used commercially, but there are many regulatory restrictions.
Large volumes would, therefore, remain, which could be used for events, exhibitions and unusual installations that would be out of place in a museum. It is an opportunity to create a night life centred on a totally transformed shopping mall.