No More Separating Online From Offline Sales

Article originally posted on Globe St. on May 22, 2019

The net result of the trend toward omnichannel retailing is going to be ‘less is more’. So says Nick Garzia, director of leasing in the Southeast, at Hines Retail.

He tells that retailers will need fewer stores per market than they used to, but they will need to perform much better. “The store experience has to be more impactful.”

This is supplemented with an online and mobile experience that is at least as impactful as the store is, he continues. “The days of separating online from offline sales has ended.”

Garzia explains that “a sale is a sale, regardless of where it occurs.” But as more retailers ultimately perfect omnichannel, he adds, there will be a greater emphasis on the store experience. “Design, customer service and convenience will be the key elements.”

We also caught up with Stephen Lebovitz, CEO of CBL Properties, who explained that retail is in the midst of a profound transformation and successful brands will be the ones to offer customers a seamless omnichannel experience and personalized services.

As recent report from JLL cited personalized services and “prioritizing people” as being of huge importance in the success of a brand. Their retail report said that shoppers want to interact with knowledgeable sales staff to learn about brands and products. “Millennials and Gen-Z are channel agnostic, switching between researching, browsing and buying online and in physical stores. 72.6% of Millennials and 69.5% of Gen Z think it’s important that a store remembers their preferences.”

CBL’s Lebovitz tells that his firm’s primary role as a landlord is to create environments that allow successful brands to thrive. “This means shrinking and strengthening the traditional retail footprint, and adding new uses that attract new customers. Customers are seeking an experience at our properties where they can do more than just shop. To answer this demand, we are diversifying our leasing strategy.”

He explains that in Q1 2019, 80% of the company’s new leases were with non-apparel tenants. “From pop-up shops and themed events, to fitness, dining and entertainment options, we are adding engaging uses that will draw more people to our properties.”

For example, he says that at CoolSprings Galleria in Nashville, his company purchased the Sears building in 2013 and redeveloped the space and its parking field into a dining, entertainment and retail destination including Kings Bowling and Entertainment, Rock/Creek, American Girl, H&M and other dining options. “The redevelopment not only benefited the former Sears wing, but the entire property, increasing small shop sales per square foot by 30% since 2013.”.

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