Long live retail | BusinessMirror

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WE assumed for years that the shift to online shopping was inevitable. With the dominance of the millennial generation and the ever-deepening penetration of data-armed smartphones, where else could it go?  But the trend now seems to be flipping in both directions, as big online retailers like Amazon are looking to enter the real space through and digitally augmented/re-invented retail environments like next-generation pop-ups.

The disruptive and fast-changing retail environment is scrutinized by the Urban Land Institute, a nonprofit research and education organization dedicated to understanding responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide.

Retail in the Philippines is a fast-growing market, with local players pursuing expansion strategies beyond Metro Manila and in provincial areas. Consumers, with their high disposable incomes, sustain the rising demand. The sector, however, is experiencing a disruption with the fast-changing preference of millennials and the growing popularity of online shopping.

There is a huge impact on tenancy mix, design and shopper engagement as the tastes of consumers evolve over time. Malls are becoming more than places to shop and keen developers have noted this fact. “Retail is a very dynamic industry,” Richard Raymundo said, noting that new trends have begun to manifest in the market.

Richard Raymundo, Colliers deputy managing director, at the RealTalk conference at The Peninsula Manila

New trends focus primarily on the artisanal and curated lifestyle. Consumers demand authenticity and evolution from brands. There is a constant search for something new or something better among the retail-goers, with the industry straining to keep up with the emerging fads.

“We are excited to partner with Revolution Precrafted in the design and construction of our next edition of our digital Zalora Pop-Up Store. Compared to our previous executions, Bonifacio High Street Pop Up Store in B3 along 7th Avenue is a mobile concept with fully integrated omni-channel innovations that marry the online and offline shopping worlds,” said Paulo Campos III, CEO and cofounder of Zalora Philippines.

The new Zalora Pop Up Store, in partnership with Revolution, will serve as everyone’s “digital closet” where they can see, touch and, for the first time ever, try their clothes on before bringing it home. Zalora launches CLICK + CONNECT, wherein customers may order online, try on items before purchasing and bring home right then and there.  More than a traditional retail store, this year’s Pop Up Store is a one-stop digital, fashion and lifestyle concept store all together, as they aim to create a social and collaborative space, truly bringing e-commerce to life.

Another undeniable trend that has taken the market is the focus on food.  Projected growth of food and beverage concepts in the local retail sector is at 30 percent to 50 percent. Filipinos are proving to be open to experimenting with new food more often and more spontaneously. There is also the word-of-mouth factor, wherein consumers are more willing to share these experiences with their friends—online and off.

These trends are not exclusive to the Philippines. Terry Waterhouse, a global retail design and fit out consultant, notes that the retail sector plays a huge part in emerging economies. Asia’s developing markets has led to the rise of the middle-class, whose internal consumption brought forth the creation of new brands. Terry believes that corporate brand identity is a must for any brand struggling to stand out in Asia.

The retail consumer environment is characterized by cutthroat competition and brand loyalty has become difficult to cultivate. Despite this, 70 percent of Asia’s retail markets have yet to be tapped.

Having worked with diverse range of sectors such as entertainment, retail, leisure and lifestyle brands across Asia, Terry believes in the importance of well-conceptualized branding. Beyond the digital trend, there are also opportunities for transit-oriented retail developments. Upcoming train and bus stations are locations rife with possibilities for retail options. Another trend is the condominium living—70 percent of upcoming residential stock are studio and one-bedroom types. Furniture giants such as IKEA are poised to penetrate the market.

Amidst fears that the retail sector has plateaued, the fact remains that Asia is changing its growth model. Previously focused on investment and production of imports, the region is now shifting toward domestic consumption and infrastructure development—and the Philippines is no exception. The country is known for having several of the biggest malls in Asia, with areas reaching more than 400,000 square meters.

Achieving the right tenancy mix is the goal of any visionary retail developer. Brands come and go, but physical spaces are here to stay. There is also more than just brick-and-mortar—there are alternative approaches like pop-up spaces and weekend markets. Their fleeting presence is attractive to the millennial consumers.

Global lifestyle trends include a focus on the quality of life, meaningful experiences and emergent technologies. Now more than ever, consumers are conscious of their buying choices and what their brands support. It has become not just about customer service, but about customer experience—providing consumers with an experience that ignites their senses and feeds their lifestyles.  In short, it’s a whole new ball game.



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