American malls are in crisis. Up to a quarter of them are predicted to close over the next five years, reports Credit Suisse.
Despite deserting a fixture of American retail, consumers are spending more money than ever. Spending grew from $10 trillion to $12 trillion in July 2017. At the same time, visits to the mall dropped by 50% between 2010 and 2013 and have been in free fall ever since.
The easiest culprit for this decline is Amazon, which saw its sales quintuple from $16 to $80 billion. While visits to the mall are down, half of American households are now members of Amazon Prime.
Here are five technologies that could help malls adapt to the future of retail and e-commerce, and perhaps even re-ignite American’s love of malls.
1. Digital Dressing Rooms
Dressing rooms are a big reason people come to clothing stores. Even if something is available online, 80% of baby boomers prefer handling a product before buying it. Digital dressing rooms could optimize that experience like Nike’s Paris store, which gives customers a tablet to project lifelike holograms onto shoes to let them see patterns and styles.
2. Better Mobile App Use
Mobile apps have been demonstrated to bump up in-store purchases. Most shoppers (73%) are omnichannel customers who double-check multiple sources before making a purchase. Places like the Frye company in San Francisco recently installed RFID scanners that let customers scan an item and make comparisons online.
3. Augmented Reality
A recent study by Interactions Consumer Experience Marketing found that 71% of shoppers would return to retailers if they used AR. Another survey by Retail Perceptions discovered that 40% would pay more for a chance to experience products through AR.
4. The Merging of Catalogs and Show Floors
Ikea is outdoing its own decorated in-store furniture “rooms” with a 3D kitchen builder visualization tool that recreates the dimensions of a customer’s kitchen and shows how it would look remodeled. Soon, versions of this technology could move to mobile devices, with customers exploring huge amounts of information with their phones.
5. Mirrors as Digital Assistants
Retailers can learn incredible amounts of data about consumer decision-making just by adding RFID tags and beacons to mirrors. Stores can learn what people try on, pass on, buy, and how they behave. Upscale brands like Ralph Lauren, Neiman Marcus, and Nordstrom are experimenting with smart mirrors already.