Shopping centre design vs. department store

What a clash of heavyweights this showdown is: shopping centre design versus department store design. Every shopper not only has ring-side seats but also a crucial part to play in determining the victor. After all, it is the multi-faceted demands of the modern consumer that has morphed the traditional basic clustering of stores in one facility into the vibrant interactive hubs of activity that is the contemporary shopping centre. Department stores are hot on shopping centres’ heels though and who emerges victorious is really down to individual quality of design.

Department stores and retail centres vie for the same consumers. That is a given. The interesting part lies in how each attempt to woo consumers through their doors. To understand this better, let’s take a moment to look at what modern shoppers want. Purchasing is just a part of the overall experience desired, albeit the ultimate goal of centres.

Today, consumers go shopping to savour a full memorable and exciting experience. Think family outings, school holiday entertainment, dining, retail therapy, movies, exercise, unique attractions, visual stimulation, social gatherings – this list goes on. These are big challenges for shopping centres and department stores alike to rise to. Indeed, the only way consumer satisfaction can be achieved is through shopping centre design.

Shopping centre design is the reason that you now find so much more than merely products at department stores and retail centres alike. Instead you are greeted with a 360 immersive experience including:

  • Stylish café culture
  • Restaurants
  • Al fresco dining
  • Boutique cake and pastry stores
  • Movie theatres from family viewing to premium Gold Class
  • Beauty and spa therapies
  • Fully equipped gyms and health clubs
  • Psychics, herbalists, aromatherapy specialists and therapeutic massage
  • So much more besides

Just look at Selfridges as a shopping centre design success story. Unwilling to be left in the dust of savvily designed shopping centres, Selfridges played the retail giants at their own game. They engaged design specialists to ensure layout, ambiance and offers were every bit as engaging as you would find in a major shopping centre.

These days a visit to Selfridges can include everything from catching a movie at their partner Everyman cinemas, fetching up at a trendy wine bar to indulging in some fabulous personal grooming. Extending Selfridges’ offer even further are latest breakthrough technology to capture, compel and captivate consumers. Meanwhile loyalty programs are in play to deliver truly personalised customer experience and communication.

Mobile strategy, including apps and mobile sites: does today’s consumer want to buy what you sell in a physical world? How about in a digital space? How well shopping centres and department stores have researched their customers and created matching solutions to make such customers’ buying decisions easier will be key for surviving the next two years of retail. Westfield have started selling products both in their shopping centres and on their website. As such, Westfield is competing head on with department stores. For consumers, this signals an exciting time as we watch to see how competitors will fight back.

Shopping centre design is the driving force behind modern consumer behaviour and decision-making. Few agencies understand and execute shopping centre design more profoundly than Design Clarity. Drawing on top level international and local experience plus a renown talent for individual details-focussed shopping centre design, Design Clarity are specialists in making your store or centre a major draw-card.

We don’t profess to know it all, though and would love to hear your insights into shopping centre design. What is lacking? What is working well? What would woo you from your favourite shopping destinations. Please, get in contact for a discussion.