(Source: Entrepreneur Philippines | 18 August 2016)
For malls to succeed in an age that is expected to see a lot of online retailing, their operators and developers should be mindful of not just what they’re selling but also of: (1) how they are selling their products; and (2) who they are selling them to. This is the belief of Stephen Chow, a director of the globally-celebrated design firm, Benoy Limited.
Speaking at the 23rd National Retail Conference recently held at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, Chow said that recent technological advances, particularly in communication, and changes in the collective mentality, will demand higher standards from malls of the future. While past malls, particularly the ones that dominated the 90s, were driven by factors like retailer offer, Chow believes that the coming years will see a zeitgeist that favors what he calls “bespoke malls” – retail destinations that are driven by customer experiences. Such malls, according to Chow, must have the capacity to offer something unique, and must be immersive and authentic, while adhering to time-tested standards in convenience and variety.
“We are at a moment in time where the customer is king,” stated Chow’s presentation at the conference. “Current retail malls bring customer experience to the forefront but the future generation of retail will take it to a new level.” And this is a new level that can be gleaned through the retail projects Benoy has taken on recently.
According to Chow, Benoy’s recent projects currently incorporate design concepts mindful of current and future demands. Such projects, he said, provide entertaining public spaces that people can interact in. They also have unique selling points that differentiate them from other nearby developments while sticking to a consistent brand identity. Citing examples of such projects, Chow made mention of three Benoy babies: Parc Central in Guangzhou, China, Lotte World Mall in Seoul, South Korea and Westgate in Singapore.
While discussing Parc Central, Chow said that the 110,000-square meter mall is distinct because of its use of green public spaces that “blur the line between the mall and the city.” It is also known for creating efficient underground spaces “without the guests feeling so.”
“It’s like in a park setting,” Chow said. “There is more retail space in the basement so we have more space in the ground.” Because of this design and due to its location, Parc Central appears like an oasis in the middle of a bustling city, a place for people to escape to. And such an appeal is also present in another Benoy-made mall: Westgate Singapore.
Featuring both indoor and outdoor retail spaces, and rich with greenery, Chow said that the 91,700-square meter mall has managed to position itself as a “leisure mall for people to stay in, especially when they want to escape the city center.”
According to Chow, malls aiming to succeed should also give people a reason to explore. And an example of a mall that has this capacity is the Lotte World Mall of South Korea. With every level incorporating different interactive highlights, the 143,000-square meter mall located in Seoul creates a consistently engaging environment for customers to experience.