StoriesBlogBest practicesThe digital revival of in-person shopping

The digital revival of in-person shopping

April 27, 2022
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“For years, the percentage of people who start their buying journey online has been increasing, this has for sure been boosted by the pandemic, as well as online sales. But, from my point of view, there hasn't been any radical changes in the role of shopping centers. Shopping centers still need to catch the attention of their audience online and convert it into offline traffic"
Simon Staack
Co-founder & Managing Director, Emplate


The new normal we’ve gotten used to during Covid is changing. Restrictions are being lifted and in e.g. Scandinavia, the tendency of empty retail spaces has turned, with the lowest numbers in ten years (Ejendomstorvet, 2022).

Still, Covid has not disappeared over night. Everywhere you look in physical retail spaces, there are hand sanitizing stations. And, areas that rely heavily on tourists still have some catching up to do. But, as a whole, the numbers are slowly starting to indicate that people are once again looking to enjoy in-person shopping (Ejendomstorvet, 2022).

But, just like Covid, ecommerce hasn’t disappeared. Because, as bad as the pandemic was for physical retail, it was great for ecommerce. As people were boarded up in their homes and shops were under lockdown, this was pretty much inevitable. However, we’re now starting to see that the sprint of ecommerce has turned into more of a jog (IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, 2022).

What this all means is that we’re right now situated in a time where we see a vast amount of customers having moved online, but with an interest in physical retail.

In order for ecommerce not to permanently win over customers, physical retail needs to meet and draw people in from where they’re at, which now more than ever is online.


But, how do physical retail get the upper hand digitally?


After all, ecommerce is by its very definition digital and physical retail is anything but. The answer to this lies in focus on customer experience and being mobile first.

Because, while customers have moved online, they are predominantly present on mobile. This is an issue for ecommerce as often times, web shops are not mobile first. This can lead to a frustrating experience, as that is where the consumers are, as 72.9% of ecommerce spend in 2021 was spend on mobile (Bitrise, 2021)

So, while this is a confusing time for retail, it is also a golden opportunity for physical retail spaces, like shopping centers, to digitalize.

By focusing on being mobile first, like with an app, physical retail can gain the upper hand by providing a much better customer experience.

Apps provide more than just an immediately nicer user experience; customers statistically spend far more time in them than in a browser (Bitrise, 2021) and they open up the opportunity with providing customers with great experiences like built-in loyalty which, if done well, can be an important factor in increasing physical footfall, sales and customer loyalty.

So, while much ground was lost to ecommerce during the waves of Covid-19 lockdowns, it appears like we’re looking at an open window of opportunity right now for physical retail to make a serious impact, digitally.


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