February 25, 2020
After a $1-billion expansion and re-imagining, one would hope that Westfield Century City would be thriving…and it is, but not just because of the construction. It takes relevant programming drawing engaged consumers to ultimately make it a success. Delving into the “art of mall retail’ and the evolution of today’s consumer demand at Connect’s Retail West 2020 conference, Connect Media’s VP Sarah Quinn engaged Bloomingdale’s Senior Vice President and Century City General Manager Kathy Suto and Westfield Century City’s Senior General Manager Louis Schillace (Photo: L to R) in a candid dialogue purposed to break down what today’s modern mall experience must look like to succeed. What were the key takeaways?
– Screen-to-door technology is helping draw consumers to a property through the use of customized apps and e-communication, engaging and rewarding customers in equal measure.
– The past is informing the future in terms of in-store customer service and branded experience expectations (shop, meal, socialize), solidifying consumer loyalty and return visit draw.
– Entertainment and events activating brands in the space creates patronage via relevant energy.
– Successful service is anticipating then delivering on both convenience and experiences, and fine tuning requires constant analysis with a focus on the relevant details.
– The right blend of tenants includes services, dining and lifestyle environments, alongside traditional clothing and product retailers to draw consumers more regularly.
– Digitally native brands are finding their way to storefront locations to grow and personalize their products to a curious consumer population, more of the past becoming the future.
– Traditional retailers need to own the customer experience for in-store screen-to-door delivery.
Among the many examples of the past being relevant to the future, Westfield’s Schillace emphasized thinking on the past romance of the department store shopping experience, and how that emotional human connection reaches consumers beyond the product. Digital commerce is transactional, while in-store connection with the brand is emotional, and exceptional service breeds loyal consumers.
For Bloomingdale’s, Suto indicated the brand’s timeless values remain getting into what service means to the consumer. Philosophically, Bloomingdale’s leverages technology in fitting rooms and wherever it can fulfill customer satisfaction, however their high-spend customers come in to touch, feel and interact; and remember the service for better or worse, with the latter not in their vocabulary. Through the past holiday season, massive shipping backlogs pushed consumers into stores, where they were pleasantly surprised, and Bloomingdale’s had a great December as a result “the old fashioned way.”
Both of them agreed that it is a “culture of service” that drives Westfield shopping center operation style as one big store, a lockstep with the philosophy of Bloomingdale’s and its approach to engaging consumers beyond the items they purchase. Malls have to offer an experience, with a property functioning as one team, where each retailer depends on the other, and the environment melds a human experience with the shopping and purchase experience.
Connect Los Angeles 2020 is coming up on March 26. It will bring together leading local, regional, and national developers, investors, owners, brokers, financiers and other major players for an afternoon of informative panel discussions, plus networking and cocktails. For more information, or to register, click here.
For comments, questions or concerns, please contact Chris Egger