Digital & the Retail Property sector
Is digital transformation even possible in the ageing retail property sector?
Digital transformation, that public sector buzzword taking paperwork in the NHS and typewriters in the council by storm.
But yet its just as appropriate (and much needed!) in the retail property sector — in fact, in the property sector overall.
In recent years the growth of IoT, connected homes, and residential tech has boomed with faster wifi and connectivity than ever, but both commercial and retail property is still lagging behind overall.
Having worked with various property and business management giants over recent years in KPMG, CBRE, Cushman & Wakefield and others, we’ve seen a common thread through conversations when it comes to digital… ‘our industry is behind’. And we’ve started to do something about it.
Retail property excites me — its an industry that relates to almost everyone — in many different ways. We all buy things, whether from a store or Amazon, from a store online and get it delivered or to pickup ourselves. But so much has changed in the high street that digital, tech and innovation must rise up a generation of customers who can be pulled back to the physical stores and outlets. Or the decline will inevitably continue.
People need to feel connected.
Its why social media is so popular.
But we also have a longing and need to feel a tangible product — hence the resurgence of vinyl records and even more recently 35mm film now being reproduced by Kodak. But as with web design and digital, if the experience is good, users are happy, they engage, read more, download, purchase and browse more. If retail can get engagement with customers more enticing and exciting then the shift starts to take place.
Over 35% of all consumers interact with the store in some way during their path to purchase.
~ source : KPMG Retail survey 2017.
Incredibly the above stat rises to 52% in Baby Boomers with millenials and Gen Z are still hitting 40–50%. Thats not just your 18 year olds always on their phone searching up google, instagram or snapchat offers — thats also a proper disposable income in a generation that are happy and able to spend— yet the retail property sector has yet to fully harness the power of connectivity and the need to engage consumers through innovation.
Uncertainty in Brexit
Its clear that the uncertainty and the misguided and fragile plans of Brexit has had an impact on all of areas of the property sector, but in particular retail has taken one for the team perhaps harder than other parts and is in somewhat a state of flux around where to head to next. Hesitation on growing investment portfolios, and uncertainty about valuations of portfolios post Brexit have perhaps made many investors tentative about new deals.
Creating Experiences not just destinations
On the day that it was announced that House of Fraser had gone into administration, I joined in on a retail property discussion on Twitter which involved a handful of well respected property or economics experts and companies discussing how the state of the high street is in disarray and one mentioning they ‘… can’t envisage what a provincial high street will look like in ten years time. Maybe just one giant, half mile long coffee shop?…’
Retail has to build location experiences. It must reinvent itself, creating micro destinations, not individual outlets. It must innovate the ways in which it both pulls in existing footfall to come back again and again, and inspire new audiences to come by creating experiences within and around the destination.
This is vital. And there are exciting innovators across the sector from the big players like CBRE and Cushman Wakefield (both whom we work with) to smaller and even boutique property agencies across big cities worldwide.
Hammerson create some great work both in physical property development and overarching destination experiences. Already dabbling with digital and tech innovation in their retail portfolio, its exciting to see where this industry is heading.
Hammerson’s Brent Cross AI app trial
Early in 2017, Hammerson’s trialled a new location-based app in Brent Cross shopping centre, simply called ‘FindSimilar’ which kind of does what it says on the tin. By using the power of AI to allow users to upload images from their phones to find similar products stocked in stores in the centre, the app provides a map to guide the customer directly to the store where the product or similar product could be purchased.
Similar to Google image match search in concept, but a significantly more bespoke and user friendly experience, innovating the sector with clever destination based engagement, helping customers to keep their shopping choice in the centre, and almost providing a concierge service in your pocket.
Powered by Cortexica, who’s powerful tech is being used by some of the world’s leading retail stores such as John Lewis and Macys the app saw feedback reach 94% of those experiencing the trial confirm they would visit different or more stores.
What are we doing?
We produce digital solutions with targeted impact for our clients.
From NHS Property Services to CBRE and Cushman Wakefield global capital markets and EMEA teams, and Facilities Management companies.
We’ve produced various tools and apps for our clients driving innovation through data insight, tools to support investments and applications for brand awareness.
Is digital transformation even possible in the ageing retail property sector? Absolutely! And we’re delighted to be so integrated with so many of our retail property clients and investors.
Get in touch!
We look forward to creating better experiences with you for your customers.
Contact us on 01227378740 or email email@example.com