Insights

Is it Really Time to Shut Down the Malls?

05.21.2012 by

Who do you trust?  Is it an advisor that can excite a conference room with sampled data and compelling predictions, or the professional that relies on analytics and a rational approach to reach a conclusion?

Let’s examine an issue about the behavior of smartphone owners. According to comScore, smartphone owners overwhelmingly report that they prefer shopping online over shopping in a physical store. We’ve seen numbers clearly stating that three out of four smartphone owners prefer online shopping and are increasingly turning to their smartphones for this. With more than 150 million smartphone owners in the US (fast approaching 60% market penetration), these preferences are highly significant. With this kind of empirical evidence, we should close down the malls, divest our retail stocks and double-down on eCommerce competency.

But hold on…aren’t some physical stores still turning a profit? And while big box stores may be downsizing, it is in favor of opening retail shops with smaller footprints, less overhead, and an updated, more intimate shopping experience. While mall retail space may be light in some areas, other stores continue to thrive. I still go there to shop, and I see my friends there.  Are we the last ones?

While the evidence in question strongly suggests that smartphone users love the idea of internet shopping and report that “they prefer it”,  a bit more research reveals that they are more likely to browse online and actually shop in physical stores, according to Wave Collapse, a specialty market research firm.  In fact, 87% of smartphone users actually shopped in a store last week and if they buy regularly, the numbers are even higher.

 

As it turns out, 84% of smartphone owners use them to enhance their in-store shopping experience. The vast majorities of smartphone shoppers read reviews (73%), compare prices with other retail outlets (71%) and scan QR codes to get more product details (57%), according to Nielsen Research.

Although smartphones usage is growing and dynamically changing how we integrate mobile into the marketing plan, it does not suggest that retail is dead to 75% of the 150 million smartphone users.

Bold statistics used to drive the bandwagon forward can create the illusion of a compelling trend. This is not new. However, the reminder here is that we must look at the numbers through a well-balanced and thoughtful filter, and depend on good judgment to enable creative solutions that work. Surveys and charts tell an important story when balanced by reason and educated instinct from experienced business people.

At Trellist, we depend on analytics and data to make good decisions…. but the data is always part of a balanced decision-making process by experienced business-savvy professionals, operating in consensus and using sound business judgment.

So, don’t shut down the malls just yet and look at the numbers carefully.

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