It’s all about that shopping centre ‘experience’

Howard Saunders, a retail futurist of 22and5 in New York spoke at the congress.

It was the biggest event on the African continent with about 1 600 delegates and most of the guest speakers came from different countries around the world to share their expertise and opinions.

The important congress addressed issues around current affairs, economics, investment markets and most importantly the ever-growing digital world.

Ran Neu-Ner, group CEO of The Creative Counsel emphasised the importance of growing digitally and not leaving any gaps for newcomers to capitalise on. And mostly for big successful retail brands – is their digital footprint.

He encouraged big brands to use any negative publicity to their advantage and to let consumers know that you see them and their complaints and work openly to offer them exactly what they desire.

Howard Saunders, a retail futurist of 22and5 in New York, spoke about how shoppers no longer wanted to see rows and rows of the same item on shelves anymore but rather enjoyed having an experience while shopping. The term, ‘Me-age’, popped up often where he explained that people were searching for a personal experience and gravitated towards products that offered them just that.

His advice for mall tenants was to engage more with their shoppers. With online shopping taking customers away from the malls, something new needs to be done to draw them in. Once engaged with the consumer businesses can expect to grow and flourish.

This engagement can take place in-store, while an extensive online presence gets the money in for these well-known brands.

Other well-respected speakers spoke at length about the digital trend which is in full swing in the United States and Asia, which needs to be remembered by South African retailers moving forward.

They also mentioned that there were so many exciting things that could be expected in the next 10 years from shopping centres around the world.

Even South Africa’s top four banks shared their thoughts on changing the banking experience. Plans are in place to remove cards and cash completely and make the tap-and-go function all consumers need to get whatever they need.

Motivational speakers, Marnus Broodryk and Anthony Kairuz brought the congress to a close with inspirational ways to implement the new and exciting ideas moving forward.

Here’s to looking forward to an interactive shopping experience in years to come.

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