The future of retail is being shaped by powerful forces from the rapid growth of ecommerce to fast-changing consumer expectations and the rise of automation.
In Asia Pacific the retail scene is confronting these challenges head-on by adopting new strategies to satisfy consumers.
In Hong Kong, one of Asia’s top shopping capitals, lower rental rates have sparked a sense of optimism for new entrants and expansion. “Business is booming again for many retailers and the reduced high street rentals have created a great opportunity to open up in prime retail spaces,” says James Assersohn, Director of Retail, JLL Asia Pacific.
He adds that fashion labels across different price points have been opening in recent months. Victoria’s Secret has reportedly committed to a giant flagship in prime Causeway Bay while Decathlon has just opened up its first stores, French luxury speaker company Devialet has expanded quickly across the city and British fashion brands like Whistles and Phase Eight have also entered the market.
Others cities such as New Delhi and Sydney are refreshing and re-positioning their malls and retail precincts, whether reinventing their shopping centers to encouraging new brands to consider previously overlooked space.
“Mall operators and retailers are learning they need to adjust to the new climate,” says Assersohn. “By paying close attention to what consumers want and anticipating the trends ahead, a more resilient and dynamic retail landscape in Asia is emerging.”
Here are six major trends defining retail across Asia Pacific cities from Tokyo to Singapore:
Keeping shoppers happy with mall food
Malls are dedicating more spaces to restaurants and novel F&B concepts to lure shoppers in. In food-obsessed Singapore, mall operators have doubled the space for F&B compared to a decade ago and it's estimated to stand at 30 percent today. In Beijing, suburban malls are ramping up the number of cafes as Chinese consumers develop a taste for coffee and socializing in cafes.
Omnichannel gathers pace
Omnichannel is here to stay as a retail strategy by providing shoppers with a seamless transition between shopping online and in physical stores, whether picking up their newly purchased goods or making exchanges easily. Mall operators in Mumbai such as Infiniti and Oberoi are in the midst of implementing omnichannel shopping with click and collect facilities. Over in Seoul, Memebox – a cult cosmetics brands heavily reliant on online sales and data collection – opened its first standalone shop last year while major department store Shinsegae launched a service called “S Mind”, which makes personalized product suggestions to users, though its shopping app.
Generating a buzz
Developers in Shanghai are getting shoppers hyped up with new developments such as the eye-catching Lane 189 , a seven-storey complex that combines retail, restaurants, offices and public spaces, by acclaimed Dutch architect Ben Van Berkel. Elsewhere in the city, Halcyon Riverbank on the Lujiazui waterfront will see Pier Slow, a 20km promenade of lifestyle, restaurants and specialty stores. Over in Japan, Osaka's new Jo-Terrace has made waves for being located within the grounds of Osaka Castle.
Increasing lifestyle experiences
Beyond food and shopping, lifestyle offerings have proven successful in bringing consumers to the door. Taipei's retail scene was rejuvenated recently with the opening of an Apple store in the iconic Taipei 101; Melbourne welcomed Australia's first Legoland Discovery Centre at Chadstone shopping mall, while Hong Kong malls have invested in experiential lifestyle events and pop-up stores. In fact, big players in Hong Kong such as Pacific Place and Harbour City now have dedicated spaces exclusively for events and pop-ups.
Targeting a specific audience
When New Delhi's first mall Ansal Plaza wanted to refresh its offerings, it rebranded itself as the city's destination for sports and leisure. It secured French sporting giant Decathlon as an anchor tenant and opened a sprawling multi-genre entertainment centre, The Arena. Over in Sydney , its CBD is undergoing major changes and has become a hot spot for inner city living, with new retailers and malls such as Swedish cult brand Acne and World Square enlivening the space.
Wooing the tourist dollar
Asia's malls are going all out to impress tourists, especially those from China. Bangkok's latest mall is Show DC, a K-pop themed wonderland geared towards travelers as it is equipped with multi-lingual information counters, a tourist police center and a room dedicated for durian tasting. Tokyo unveiled Ginza Six in April, a stunning 13-storey complex which has more than just designer brands – it boasts a collaboration with Mori Art Museum, a Noh theatre and stores offering cultural goods and souvenirs such as imperial lacquerware maker Yamada Heiando, famed Kyoto green tea producer Tsujiri and a concept Lawson convenience store.
Meanwhile Macau has put the finishing touches for the final phase of T Galleria by DFS. Located within City of Dreams, T Galleria has expanded by three times and offers shoppers brands which are found exclusively in Macau such as Aquazzura, Bing Xu, Church's, Corthay and Rupert Sanderson.