The Biggest Challenge In Mall Retailing, And How You Can Fix It

Before the 21st century, the retail game plan was fairly straightforward: if you had the budget you simply opened a store and invested in some advertising space. But now, in an age of increasingly competitive business environments, saturated markets, rising retail occupancy costs, shrinking profits, fly-by-night trends, the emergence of online shopping, and millennial who would rather hunt for Pokémon than bargains at the mall, retail has gotten a lot more challenging.


The greatest challenge facing retailers and mall managers today


Let’s face it – anybody involved in retail knows there are many challenges to staying successful and competitive. Not only are sales down because of competition, saturated markets, and, at times, a lack of knowledge, content or branding, but of all the difficulties that those in the industry have to deal with, the biggest challenge is attracting shoppers into the inner store space.


The retail industry is undergoing a huge shakeup—and despite what you may have heard, brick and mortar is not dying, it is only evolving. Yes, it’s true. Brick and mortar is going through some big changes but an in-store presence can still be profitable if done well. (And, yes, we’re going to tell you how!)


So what’s to blame for these changes? A little thing called disruptive technology.


Online and smartphone technology has had an enormous impact on the in-store retail industry. From the tsunami of technologies, and changing nature of retail competitiveness, to the rise of the digitally influenced shopper and show-rooming, consumers are now demanding a more convenient, seamless and enhanced shopping experience.


Today’s consumers approach the buying process more knowledgeable than ever, and with more available options at their fingertips. So, not only are retailers struggling to get consumers to choose their products, but mall and exhibition managers are finding it more difficult to win over traffic.


How the market has tried to solve the problem


Whether in-store retailers like it or not, technology is here to stay. In fact, as smartphone usage grows, it’s only going to increase. So, how is the market trying to solve the problem?


Some responses have included examining price strategy, launching apps or mobile sites, providing free Wi-Fi, price matching, social media engagement, improving the efficiency of sales staff, and offering unique services that online retailers can’t replicate. While these strategies may work in the short term, the market has proven that they are far from great long term strategies.


What’s the solution?


Disruptive technology has taken a firm grip on just about every industry and has had a deep and lasting effect on retail. Yet, while consumers continue to live in a smartphone world, many retailers seem to be stuck in the past.


This makes “change” the need of the hour. Disruptions have forced retailers and mall managers to become locked into a ‘survival of the fittest’ contest, where only those who innovate, get creative and offer a lifestyle experience will flourish.


So what’s the solution? When disruption happens, not only does it generate threats but it also generates opportunities for those who can catch them. Using customer behaviours, desires and needs to stimulate transformation, the solution is to spend less time selling and more time delivering excellent customer experiences.


Top ways to optimise the in-store experience


Less about transactions and more about the consumer relationship, sales performance has become more customer-focused than it ever was in the past. Today, retail is all about pleasing customers and getting them to return.


But in a volatile landscape where consumers are savvy and well-informed, which can also make them unpredictable and demanding, keeping pace with what they want, is harder than ever before. While many recognise that the best way to attract and retain customers is to enrich their in-store experience, this is not always straightforward.


So how can retailers create an in-person shopping experience that keeps customers coming back? In addition to treating consumers like rock stars, here are some powerful ways to increase sales performance by optimising in-store displays.


Stories stick and stories sell


In today’s visually stimulated world, where competition for the customer’s attention and money has become fierce, discounts and price-matching may move sales up in the short term, but they’ll also move profits down in the long term. Customers will leave with products, but not much more.


To better sales performance, retailers need to create a shopping experience that sets their brand apart from the rest, and an effective way to do this is to sell a story through their display. Storytelling is a very powerful tactic when it comes to engaging. Considering that retailers control their customer’s experience, they should use it to their advantage. And remember, it’s more effective to show a story, not tell it.


Displays are a way to excite the imagination. A tight visual concept (your story) can give a potential customer inspiration for a certain style and can trigger desires and wants. Simply put, stories – about success, fame, love, prestige, a revelation, you name it – help people connect emotionally to what they are seeing. It is all about communicating a story through the way products are presented.


Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication


You can have the best merchandise in the world but if you don’t display it properly customers will pass it by. A common mistake many retailers make is displaying too many products at once. Crowding is a symbol of inferiority – if you keep an expensive item in a crowd, the human brain perceives it to be of lower value. Anything that is high value deserves a lot of space around it.


Good visual merchandising is a mix of art, inspiration and science. By following the principle of KISS (Keep It Simple Sweetheart), a retail display is guaranteed to keep customers interested. While great visuals can sell a lousy product, poor visuals can do nothing for great merchandise, so keep displays simple and keep them uncluttered.


Use colour to grab attention and influence


Visual impact is a huge component of retail merchandising. Customers entering a store are greatly influenced by the visual information they gather in the first split-second. One simple visual element, such as colour, can catch a shopper’s attention and also greatly affect their mood.


Colour isn’t just a powerful medium for creating emphasis and commanding attention, but it also tends to stir up emotions in people, which can affect how they spend. While red is used to excite consumers and make them act on impulse, black is used to market extravagant products, blue is used to create an impression of trust, and yellow is the colour of choice to showcase a youthful and positive retail space. Find your colour and use it strategically.


Light up your display with LEDs


Your retail display is your brand so make sure your display is highlighted with LEDs that improve the overall visual experience for customers. Whether you’re using LED lightboxes, accent lighting, display plinths or illuminated sign holders (one of the most important aspects of in-store design), LEDs not only enhance the aesthetic beauty of a display, but bright and bold lighting attracts the eye and serves as a kind of spotlight, helping graphics stand out in crowded areas and drawing customers to the display.


A market opportunity that comes with many benefits


85% of consumers still prefer to shop in-store and handle the physical products before purchasing.

73% of consumers would expand their purchases if they had a positive customer experience.

89% of consumers would switch to a competitor due to a negative customer experience.


While these are just the cost-saving opportunities, these mall marketing tools can be a significant contributor to overall sales results. Bridging the online and offline gap, these marketing tools have the power to draw attention from crowds; enhance customer buying experience through personal interaction; increase brand loyalty; test new products or concepts; encourage spontaneous purchase of merchandise; increase customer base and brand extension; market merchandise around a season, sale or holiday; facilitate the collection of leads, feedback and loyalty programs; generate brand exposure; and ultimately, boost higher sales.


Retail is no longer just about selling. It’s all about how you sell. And with retailers no longer in the driver’s seat and with consumers calling the shots, modern retail is a whole new playing field. Whether in-store retailers like it or not, the retail landscape is changing fast. To thrive and survive in the new age of retail, retailers and mall managers need to make a difference to the customer journey or get left behind. Simply put: with 5 out of 7 retailers failing within the first three years, if you don’t evolve with the evolving retail landscape, you can pretty much kiss your brand goodbye.


An effective and powerful retail display can have a significant effect on your business ROI.


Fortunately, with in-store retail intelligence, retailers now have the tools to succeed. By optimising the in-store experience with retail display products, the opportunity to make sales increases.


Bringing brands and stores to life, Scan Retail offers an affordable marketing opportunity for retail companies looking to expand, or for small entrepreneurs just getting started. Pairing strategic tools with beautiful design solutions to help brands stand out, Scan Retail delivers cutting-edge, energy-efficient retail display architecture for temporary, semi-permanent and permanent retail displays.


Scan Retails’ unrivaled marketing tools offer many possibilities. Firstly, setting up a retail store is notoriously expensive. Not only are mall leases steep, but shopfitting and set up costs, can be prohibitive for new retailers trying to set up shop. Our in-store retail displays are a great alternative to get your new retail business set up and running quickly and cost-effectively with more flexibility for shorter leases to test the market.


To find out more about how we can help you improve your retail display, don’t hesitate to talk to one of our consultants for free