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You Can’t Have a Salad and a Glass of Wine Online

Michael Glimcher, CEO of Glimcher Realty Trust, was quoted as saying, “You can’t have a salad and a glass of wine online,” in the September 3, 2014 issue of Fortune in an article titled: Where Have All The Shoppers Gone? His observation is spot on and his quote touches on how mall owners should be positioning their centers going forward.

In the article referenced above, the authors identify a problem called Stunted Evolution, which is the concept of the retail world lagging behind other industries by not adapting to the world of e-commerce. In short, retailers need to figure out a way to compete in that new world. E-commerce is not going anywhere and is expected to grow 61% by 2018 while brick-and-mortar retail is expected to inch up a measly 12.8%.

Simply put, brick-and-mortar retailers will have to adapt or perish. The formula – figure out how to offer the shopper a great experience that is engaging and exciting while also being convenient. That’s a tall order, but the A-Malls are starting to figure it out.

The B-Malls, however, need to get onboard…and quickly. By definition, B-Malls are in danger alreadysubpar location, weak or vacant anchors, low foot traffic– so in turn they need to be leading the charge to Retail 2.0. B-Malls need to be pioneering and daring and their old mall paradigm discarded. B-Malls need to understand their customer and then figure out how to engage and excite them. And if B-Malls can’t find the elixir, they should be repurposed altogether.

A-Malls may be able to compete with e-commerce, but they too need to adapt and have begun to do so. B-Malls do not have the luxury of time. Owners of B-Malls need to be bold and creative. Start with a question: what can’t be experienced online? Answering this question will lead to some fresh ideas. B-Malls need to create excitement within their four walls and give their customer a reason to push aside their mouse or set down their smartphone and drive to the mall.

The experience and social impact of traditional shopping is compelling and in the words of Michael Glimcher: “You can’t have a salad and a glass of wine online.”

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