Omnichannel Retailing – the Survivors’ Choice

Every fifty years or so, commerce is struck by a revolutionary change in mentality. The next critical shift is happening right now. Don’t miss it!

Long ago, building malls in big cities became possible due to railroads. After motor transport developed, malls and the burgeoning bourgeoisie moved to the suburbs instead. At some point, supermarkets were spreading; then large discount chains took over, etc. Commerce never stands still.

Soon we can behold another modern wonder of the world. Dubai Square, the mall that will break all the current records, should be completed in five years’ time. This will be no ordinary mall but a city with a glass roof, equivalent to the size of 100 football pitches, offering lots of eateries and entertainment options on top of the shops. They say it is inspired by the world’s most fashionable shopping destinations, like London’s Oxford Street, Los Angeles’ Beverly Hills and Paris’ Champs-Élysées.

The bar has been set pretty high by property developers who have built the world’s highest tower, Burj Khalifa, and the current biggest mall, Dubai Mall. It will have three storeys for commercial spaces and eateries, alongside little parks with luscious greenery; plus an ice adventure park and a waterpark.

But more importantly, Dubai Square will be the world’s first mall to break down the boundaries between shopping and entertainment, as well as between brick-and-mortar shops and e-commerce. Developers assure that it will change the face of retail forever. The newest technology has to seep into every detail of Dubai Square, and it should become the world’s leading omnichannel retail development.

The mall offers its customers an integrated shopping experience, smoothly combining traditional shops with digital technology. Personalized mobile apps, fast check-out solutions, radiochips, and mobile payments are used for the shoppers’ convenience. Fashion brands will have specialized fitting rooms with interactive mirrors, artificial intelligence will make personalized suggestions, 3D-printed apparel will be available, etc. Eateries will have 3D-printed food on the menu, among other things, and ordering will be done via apps that will reduce waiting time and suggest personalized menu.

New era in retail business

What is the reason for undertaking an outrageous project like Dubai Square? Vanity? Well, no. Digital commerce started on the sly with Amazon’s online bookstore is becoming more user-friendly and widely adopted, thus posing an increasing threat to traditional commerce.

Results of a study conducted in the USA with 46,000 participants indicate this change very clearly, and would make any traditional retailer lose their sleep.

E-shops have become popular and the smartphone has become an irreplaceable companion for shopping. 73% of the respondents have adopted digital commerce, and the percentage of people who shop only in physical stores has dropped to 20. Smart phones are not only used for downloading promotional coupons, but also for comparing prices and finding information about the products in traditional shops.

Now we are done with the longtime retail practice of displaying the products in the shop, and letting people know about it through mass advertising. The new normal is almost every shopper using their mobile phone or tablet in traditional store, and communicating most of the information through social media.

The study also shattered the notion that retailers should capitalize on impulse buying to yield a bigger profit. On the contrary, the more apps and digital tools the shopper uses before shopping, the more – up to 10% more – money they spend. Even visiting the website increases the amount spent. Also, shoppers who visit both shop and website are more loyal.

This marks the beginning of a new era – the era of omnichannel retailing.

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