Rushing around attempting to complete my holiday shopping I squeezed in some time at the mall. Instead of being the pleasant “retail therapy” of years past, it was irksome and frustrating. Malls have not adapted with the times, and I fear they are in grave danger. Here are four reasons why I think that malls are on the path to certain death.
1. Unable to Create Loyalty
Last year, while at the mall, I bought an incredibly soft thermal undershirt (remember, I live in Buffalo) that became one of my favorite articles of clothing. This year I went to go back to grab a few more, and the store did not have them. I was told by the sales associate that they expected them “eventually.” When, spring? While I understand style changes rapidly, why not keep the favorite staples that draw a client back to your company?
Many stores attempt so-called-loyalty by handcuffing consumers—offering money-saving discounts if one returns during a specific time frame. This is not loyalty, but forced shopping and will not create a lasting effect. Personally, I find these programs stressful, and I now avoid purchasing from a company during those “cash-back” times to prevent the pressure of having to get back and jump through hoops to find the actual deal.
2. Terrible Packaging
Remember when Apple first started selling products? Unwrapping them to get to the product was an experience and made you feel all warm and fuzzy about your purchase. Walk into your nearest Bon Ton or Sears around the holidays, and you will see a mess of clothing and other assorted items. There has been no change as to the way major retailers present their product in decades. What’s the draw to digging through a clothing rack when I can see it online?
3. No Team
As I waited in line to purchase an item that I begrudgingly decided to buy because I had made the trek to the mall, I observed another shopper eyeing a fancy piece of jewelry. An associate was summoned from another department to help the gentleman. When she appeared, she did nothing but complain about how she works “in tools” and would be unable to help him. Here you have your client, ready to make a purchase, and the salesperson did nothing but spew grievances.
4. The Overall Experience
The checkout line itself took more than 10 minutes, which, in my opinion, is not acceptable in the internet era. Be creative retailers! I understand that fewer people in your stores means that you have to lower your overhead and hire less staff, but that is only hurting you more. Why not combine the online shopping experience with the live one? Let me put items in my “cart” that I want to see or try on and text me with what dressing room number or area they’ll be available. Bring back the “experience.”
I regret to admit I did more online shopping this year than ever before. Part of it was time based, for it has been an insane month. When I did squeeze time from my schedule to run to the mall, the experience was so horrid. As a result, I could not bring myself to make the extra effort to go back. The idea of retail therapy still exists, but not in the current state. Not at the malls of today.
The writing is on the wall with mass closings of significant stores. For the others to survive, they need to adapt to the current environment. It has made me think about my client's experience in our shop and how we too need to make ourselves a destination. In fact, it’s number one on my 2018 New Years resolutions list!