Malls Are Dying

Peter : On Rad's Radar?
| Peter Radizeski of RAD-INFO, Inc. talking telecom, Cloud, VoIP, CLEC, and The Channel.

Malls Are Dying

In a FastCompany article about Amazon, there is a tidbit about the fact that malls are dying in America. In Tampa, this article says that a dying mall is poised - but for what?

Brick-and-mortar stores have the same problem as malls. How do you comepte with Amazon? How do you compete with the long tail, everything is just a click away?

Seth Godin has talked about bookstores last breath before. They have to pivot. When your main revenue stream - bestsellers - starts declining, you have to start shifting business or just ride it out. Books, DSL, dial-up, whatever - shift or ride it out.

If you shift early enough - like Earthlink did - then you can afford failures. If you wait, like newspapers, malls, bookstores, then you only have one (maybe tow) chances to get it right. JC Penney would be a case study in that.

One shift is to realize that you aren't selling to everyone any more. Loyalty programs will become important - for your customers and for your business data - if it is done right, not like airlines. Tribes and loyalty go hand in hand. Tribes mean that people will buy from you even if you are the cheapest if you give them a reason. Tribes meaning selling into a vertical / niche - upselling and cross-selling services, programs, devices, products to the same base of customers.

What to do with malls?

Maybe they have to think like a destination.

Or maybe it is about mixed use - office space, education (charter school?) and retail. Maybe even residential, all slapped together.

Certainly, they have to have good wi-fi and fun events. Maybe become the meeting place for community groups. It's what the libraries in my county are doing as people shift from getting books to digital. At least, meetings bring traffic so the food court can make a sale.

Mall owners have to look for different tenants - maybe doctors, dentists, lawyers, accountants. But that goes back to mixed use.

Maybe take a queue from casinos and have an M-Life loyalty card to track every action inside the mall of every customer. The rewards would have to be meaningful though.

As the economic and retail landscape shifts, stakeholders have to exit their worldview of the business model, examine other businesses for what is working (and why), and incorporate some of those things in their pivot.

At the end of the day, brick-and-mortar owners have to think more like Disney -- it's all about the customer experience.

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