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Part 3 - How Will Retail Evolve In 2020?

A unique perspective disruption in the shopping mall business model

2020 will be remembered in our lifetime as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps across the globe. Without doubt, the brick and mortar business including malls are among the hardest hit in the economy. We analyze what challenges are coming for malls, the opportunities available and what some malls are doing in the face of the pandemic. Finally, the key question is whether our local malls will take action to seize this opportunity to defend and who in the organization will need to make it happen.

Part 1 - Business Model Disruption Across 2020
Part 2 - How Are Malls Responding To COVID-19
Part 3 - How Can Malls Use Digital To Defend Revenues

Part 3 - How Can Malls Use Digital To Defend Revenues

Regardless of the past, malls need to find ways to defend their futures. Due to the nature of the pandemic, traditional methods of attracting crowds like decorations and reward points may not work as effectively. With new challenges, there needs to be new solutions. Therefore, in a post pandemic era, malls can make key investments into:

1. Ecommerce & Mobile Commerce
The key functions of an ecommerce platform for malls is to let shoppers shop any time anywhere. Collecting payment and in store pick up secures the customer early on while delivery services help gain market share from other malls. Basic ecommerce will allow you to perform these basic tasks but without search engine optimization, shoppers will not be able to find the mall. That is where search engine optimization comes in. Basic eCommerce alone however, are not optimized to rank on search engines, so many companies will be able to deploy ecommerce solutions but would have no idea how to measure whether they have done a good job or not.

2. Search Engine Optimization
5 billion searches are performed every day. 93% of online experiences begin with the search engine. 81% of shoppers search online before making a large purchase or visit a place. Ensuring that your site comes up first on the search engine represents a very simple goal but a really difficult one. The top 3 results on Google receive 70% of the traffic. This is a science and art on its own and requires optimizations at many levels inside and outside of the application.

The important outcome for malls is that when a shopper has the intent to buy something and searches online, ideally the mall would benefit from being the first result of the search and redirect the cashflow to the mall. Buying ads would not be practical for such a wide array of terms, hence malls need to go down the path of Search Engine Optimization.

3. Digital Mall Guide
The prolonged pandemic means that people will be looking at ways to find what they want quicker. Malls will need a very simple way to funnel search traffic into their stores. This can be achieved using a digital mall guide with search capabilities from the above search engine. By making it easy for customers to find what they want, malls can greatly reduce friction from intent to actual purchase.

How Can Malls Take Action?

In the past, few malls have kept up with technological advancements and even less have made investments in digital technologies. It made little sense to invest in technology that draws people away from malls as brick and mortar businesses were doing fine and online sales only represented around 5% of brand revenues, even after 5 years of large scale assault from online malls. The current pandemic has accelerated the success of online malls and traditional malls can no longer ignore this fact.

Leaders and owners of malls need to realize that the business model from the 1970s can no longer survive in the coming months. Long delayed investments into digital technologies need to be made. The competition has already invested more than RM10 billion in the past five years into building its technology, people and processes. Any widespread tech changes must come from the top. Without the aspirations from the company leaders, no significant results can be achieved no matter what the team on the ground thinks.

During the press conference to announce NOKIA being acquired by Microsoft, the Nokia CEO ended his speech saying “We didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow, we lost”. Nokia has been a respectable company. They didn’t do anything wrong in their business, however, the world changed too fast. They missed out on learning, they missed out on changing. Not only did they miss the opportunity to earn big money, they lost their chance of survival.

In terms of executing a technology vision, a vast majority of technology talents have been snapped up by other companies. Without such talent, malls can only know that they have hired a team of people to implement something, but do not have the capability or experience to measure whether what they implemented is good enough to give them a competitive edge. It is estimated that around 80% of such implementations will not be able to bear results as they are focused more on action than actually getting results i.e. building an ecommerce platform does not mean revenues.

How a Traditional Business Grew 500% During the Pandemic

MallDash is in a unique position to help brands go online. As a case study, MallDash has helped a retail company grow their revenues 500% during the pandemic. The company works with retail outlets and delivers items from retail stores to customers around the nation. Focused on search engine technology, MallDash has helped the company to build an ecommerce platform to sell over 3000 SKUs.

In a competitive environment, the company wanted to ensure that they rank on the first page of search engines. MallDash worked to optimize the search engine rankings of the client platform. With the appropriate measurements in place, optimizations were done to push the company’s rankings up against competitors.

After about 5 months from the start of the project, the company which had no significant ranking whatsoever at the start, was ranking at the very top for many intent heavy keywords like “buy product”. Around 15% of visits were converted to sales. The company’s traffic increased by 1000%, while revenues were up 500%, breaking through a sales record of RM1 million sales at the peak of the pandemic.

When Should I Take Action?

As the Chinese saying goes, the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now. Malls need to take action immediately as every passing day represents a day lost to recover opportunities in the digital world. 
If you own a brand or a mall, contact MallDash for a FREE consultation in terms of your technology roadmap.