GET ACROSS HOW THE DIGITAL AND PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENTS INTERSECT
August 4, 2022
Notes by Julie Furlong
A place for the community
Since the first Australian shopping centre was built in 1965, centres have evolved and become known as the much-loved epicentres of their local communities. They’ve made it easy for us to experience our favourite has changed. We now live in an era where people experience shopping centres from their early years; perhaps enjoying play-centres as toddlers or going to a movie cinema for the very first time.
Nowadays, these retail hubs are at the heart of our communities; they’re a place to connect, relax, shop, eat, socialise or simply pass time. Ingrained in our memories (particularly mine), the local shopping centre was the place to meet up for an ice cream after school, register for Little Athletics, watch the latest blockbuster, or even spy on the cute guy while hanging out at the food court. Indeed, our industry has supported many locals through disasters bushfires, floods, tsunamis, the pandemic – you name it – shopping centres offered a lifeline, lending a helping hand, always continuing to be a place where locals and their communities could feel safe and supported.
Shopping centres continue to face challenges in the ever-evolving digital landscape. To compete in this decade, shopping centres will require more than increasing technology and innovation – they will require a competitive vision. Such a vision will require us to determine what marketing and brand strategies are needed today, to create and bring to life the successful shopping centres of the future.
The work that’s done
With rapid industry, technological and social acceleration, we know the digital-centric consumer wants and demands more convenience. Hence, we adapted our technology and went through a digital transformation. As we have read in SCN previously, the ‘Next Generation Leaders’ in our industry are embracing this technology with relevant marketing strategies, to progress and improve the customer experience. But just when we thought we were fine-tuning how the internet, online shopping, Click & Collect, digital gift cards, WiFi, artificial intelligence (AI) technology and omnichannel marketing worked, alongside these glorious physical spaces, the next evolution of the internet approaches – enter Web3. Which raises the questions: ‘What more is there to do in this space?’ and ‘What role will centres play in the Web3 wave of technology and how relevant will it be?’ Yes, the Metaverse, along with non-fungible tokens (NFTs), augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and human experience (HX) must be embraced, along with a host of other technology evolutions and innovations that are yet to come.
What is Web3?
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Web1 was introduced as read-only HTML pages, becoming the first example of a global network and a source of online information. Then Web2 emerged, the current version of the internet that we are all familiar with ¬– dominated by user-generated content and social platforms with huge daily interactions and sharing between users. Now, as we emerge further into digital transformation, Web3 represents the next phase, which will be decentralised, open and of greater utility. Web3 and the Metaverse are technologies supporting each other, providing even more connectivity.
Do you remember 20 years ago when many shopping centres were wondering what the World Wide Web was and if they even needed to create a presence on the internet? Shopping centres, as they are now, will become a facilitator in the future of the ‘phygital’ world, a hybrid of the physical and digital worlds. Think about the life you lead online and the one you lead offline. They’re not the same but are quite related. That’s why innovative retailers and larger property groups are already strategically utilising digital innovations to connect with customers, effectively incorporating Web3 technology opportunities. But what about the smaller community, neighbourhood centres and other groups? What is their pathway to bringing this programmable world to life, especially within a limited budget?
With many moving parts and Web3 changing by the minute, looking deeper to find the answers to the perfect strategy is difficult. Marketers must embrace Web3 as an opportunity to integrate the technology within their strategies by offering a smarter way for customers to experience in-centre and online shopping, and experience how digital marketing strategies can enhance the physical to deliver an elevated customer journey. There is also an opportunity to reimagine the next phase of growth with the inspiration of passion, speed and innovation. Marketers must be savvy and agile enough to adapt to change, thereby leveraging emerging opportunities to hit their business objectives.
Besides all the challenges, one thing is clear – this new iteration of the internet is here to stay and it will be critical to consider the right infrastructure and strategies to utilise it in a considered, relevant, affordable and practical approach.
The metaverse – a virtual-reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users – will not make physical centres disappear, just as the internet hasn’t replaced physical locations. However, as marketers in this space, we need to approach this technology, year by year as building blocks, essentially planting the seeds to ensure organisations are ready to leverage Web3 when the time arrives.
Web3 is still shaping up with a continuum of rapidly emerging capabilities and technologies and my research and work in this area mostly points to the following six topics for marketers that I will consider over the next few newsletters.
All six topics are featured in Shopping Centre News: https://www.shoppingcentrenews.com.au/shopping-centre-news/shopping-centre-marketing/shopping-centres-get-ready-for-web3/
THOUGHTS TO PONDER
1. WITH MARKETING BEING A FOREVER CHANGING LANDSCAPE, ARE YOU ENGAGING THE RIGHT PARTNERS?
Outsource marketing may be the answer to your growing business.
2. YOU NEED EXPERTS ON YOUR SIDE
Marketing is a strategic process involving the planning, organising and the delivery of the right mix to achieve specific objectives.