By Laura Cooper Wedekind
Consumers are increasingly enjoying modern conveniences such as online ordering, curbside pickup and home delivery as the primary means of shopping. While technology is undoubtedly the future of retail, shopping center developers and landlords will continue to thrive by integrating innovation and utilizing our biggest advantage—experience.
Imagine you’re located in the suburbs of Columbus and want to shop at a center like Easton. No matter what retailer or item you’re looking to buy, you should be able to browse anything and everything using Easton’s comprehensive online retail platform—in which inventory, pricing and other relevant data from each store is aggregated at the landlord level.
Suppose you find a suit you like at Banana Republic, and additional accessories at Macy’s. After comparing these items against similar products and sales at other Easton retailers, you check out and discover the option to pick up at the center or have the items delivered to your home. Upon choosing home delivery, Easton activates its internal DoorDash-like system to find someone who can pick up the packages and deliver it to your doorstep.
If, instead, you choose the complimentary center pick-up option, you would arrive at Easton’s large, centrally located pickup center, provide your order number and receive your merchandise in an instant. If you’re in a hurry, you can simply park in a spot and call/text a number for lot delivery, or drive up to the pickup kiosk for curbside service.
While products are typically packaged and ready to go upon arrival, you can also opt to try on clothing items in one of the pickup center’s beautifully designed fitting rooms. If, for example, your suit doesn’t fit right, you could easily return/exchange it for a different size, or utilize the center’s on-site tailor to have it modified on the spot.
As a way to consolidate purchases and prevent you from carrying bags around Easton, you would have the ability to have select items shipped to your home, while the rest of your purchases are delivered to your car while you finish shopping.
While this may sound like an idealized future, forward-thinking shopping centers like Easton are already evaluating the efficacy of integrating these technologically enhanced, consumer-focused experiences into operations. These things take time, money and innovation to materialize, but when they do, it will mark a new era for the brick-and-mortar shopping center.