China’s retail industry has undergone a plethora of changes and challenges over the past few years. With the rise of e-commerce, new technology and a new era of young consumers, the shopping experience is reinventing itself.
As we observed at the recent ICSC China Retail Summit, retail centres in China are becoming social lifestyle centres – destinations for social gathering with greater integration of F&B, entertainment and public space. The new generation of consumers’ priorities are evolving and no longer just about shopping, but also leisure and entertainment. In order to stay ahead of the curve in the retail market it is becoming necessary for retailers, developers, and retail operators to cultivate and refine their techniques and strategies.
Understanding the shift of consumers’ behavior both challenges and creates opportunities for retailers and developers, innovative techniques, new retail concepts and bespoke services are what’s required for brands to remain competitive. Retailers are demanding greater flexibility around their spaces, and greater amounts of open space for events and social gatherings to create vibrant destinations. With a new era of young consumers seeking an engaging experience and lifestyle, retailers need to attract the attention of consumers by introducing new activities and surprises to create an overall experience to captivate and intrigue.
As retailers are facing the challenge to evolve retail centers from a place of consumption to a place of experience, this in turn offers an opportunity for industry players to develop and introduce new models into the retail environment. Innovative pop up stores and concept stores are the new successful retail models that are gaining popularity. Yan Ji You Store and The Taroko Group and many other brands are strategically launching new concepts, new activities and interactive digital technology to enhance its brand identity and to create meaningful, memorable experiences for consumers. Creativity is the platform to success in today’s retail world, otherwise you run the risk of alienating your market.
While retail centres are reinventing themselves to cater for the transforming market and new demands of consumers, as architects and designers, we are concurrently creating new innovative design schemes and typologies for the retail environment. We believe good architectural spaces should provoke a sense of belonging. Having a well-designed space both aesthetically and technically that delivers a sense of belonging is important given the new levels of competition that are developing in China’s retail market today. For the next generation of retail centres, fitting into this new landscape means embracing experiential retail, creating quality spaces and more importantly, creating memories and a desire for people to return.