05 Oct What mall’s corporations could do for improving their future
John, Ellen, and the kids arrived at the mall at mid-morning. Left the car in the parking and walked in. It was a sunny day after a long winter, and John preferred to park outside and get some sunlight before going inside again. He had ordered online some cartridges and paper for his printer, a screen protector for Ellen’s phone, and finally, he had given up and bought the new Star Wars game for the kids. He would pick up today.
They started in the children’s clothes shops and started to try new clothes for the spring that was coming fast this year. Sweaters, pants, shirts, jackets, and so forth. Amy liked a sweater, but it had a small stain on it, and there was the last one in the shop. The shop attendant looked at her tablet and said:
“We have it in stock; it’s just in the warehouse. It should arrive in about 10 minutes. Do you want me to ask for having it quicker? Are you going to take now with you?”
“No, just put it with the rest of things, and we will pick all of it later,” Ellen answered.
When Amy and Adam had every item tried and approved by Ellen, they moved to the counter. They put all the clothes on the desk and asked to pick later in the automatic click&collect station. Ellen took her phone from the purse and paid directly with the mall’s app.
The same situation repeated then going for clothes for John and then for Ellen.
So much stuff, John thought, the bank account is going to cry when the charge will arrive. They preferred not to use the deferred payment that the mall offered to approved customers. The rate was considerably better than credit card ones, but still, they prefer to have their debt as reduced as possible. Anyway, to know we can defer some to the next month is always a nice thing.
They walked to the shoe shop, Ellen’s favorite, and after many tries and doubts, all members of the family had new shoes and sneakers. Ellen paid with the mall’s app and asked the same kind of delivery that before. They would pick everything up after lunch. They decide to split; Ellen would go to get some beauty items and some lingerie for her; John and the kids would go to buy a new ball to play basket and some gifts for the birthday party they had the next day.
They met 40 minutes later in the food court.
“Darling, I think I got a bit crazy and saw the last headphones that I talked you about and couldn’t resist,” John said
“Well, feel a bit less sorry, I have left myself go a bit wild as well. There were so many great discounts. I couldn’t let them go,” Ellen answered.
“This is one of the problems with this new system. We buy and buy, but as we don’t need to carry the bags, we end buying much more that we wanted,” John cried.
“Don’t be a fool. You know you can check any moment how much we have bought just looking in ‘My orders’ in the app” and look, we are bags-free! Let’s go to grab some food” Ellen admonished him with a smile in face.
They took sushi while the kids preferred burger, as usual when they ate outside, and after started to ask to go to watch a movie. John and Ellen looked at each other and decided to give in. It seemed a good film, and it would start in 15 minutes, so they had the time, and they didn’t have any plan for the afternoon.
“Then, better, I’m going to change the pickup option and have stuff delivered in the car later instead of going to the click and collect station. We are still in time to change it without any charge,” John said, picking the phone and opening the app. He allowed the app to track them to monitor when they would be going to the car. It was an enticing thing not to wait and to have your bags almost in real-time. You park, and you have the attendant putting your bags in the truck.
Of course, he could ask for a home delivery later the same afternoon, but after looking at the amount they had just spent during the morning, maybe it would better to save the small fare for urgent delivery and have it in the car. It wouldn’t cover for the sodas and popcorn, but anything helps, he thought while walking to the cinema.
After the film, they walked to the car, drive to the curbside pickup point, and after less than one minute, they had all the shopping of the day and the online order of the previous day in the trunk of the car. Still in time for watching the game thought John while they incorporated into the highway.
At the same time, Bernard, the mall’s director, was looking the statistics of sales and visitors. After a doubtful start, with the prototype of the system being not too easy to explain to tenants, and they needed some time to realize the advantages, the system was being an incredible success. More people were coming to the mall, revenues growing in every store. More and more stores were signing the service or getting upgrade services. It had been a win-win strategy. He couldn’t help but remember how different forecasting about the future of the mall had been just a couple of years ago.
What was this “magic” system? Just existing technology with a customer-oriented approach. Let’s see below.
This little story is just an example of how malls corporations could have more chances to survive to the e-commerce competition and the customers’ change of habits. We can rapidly realize a couple of things. First, with a modest investment, malls can reinvigorate their offer, both to visitors and tenants. The second thing is that I will never get a Pulitzer for my writing.
In Europe, malls are still functioning well, even growing. Anyway, corporations that run these malls should look at what is happening to malls in the US and learn the lesson before it’s too late for them. A fierce competition of e-commerce and changes in customer habits may put at risk their business model.
A possible solution for these corporations would be to create a provider of services that many help their tenants, the shops inside the mall, to compete better against the e-commerce giants as Amazon, Zalando or others. What services could they offer?
An App for mall visitors to manage the services offered
Visitors will be able to download an app that will help them to enjoy the benefits of the services we are talking in this paper. In this app the visitor will find:
- Mall and store hours
- Mall and stores available offers
- Entry point to all stores’ websites
- News and events in the mall
- Management of orders:
- Situation of open orders
- History of orders
- Possibility to change chosen delivery method.
- Tracking of open orders
- Signalization of order ready
- Geo-localization for curbside pickup orders
- Payment method for any of the stores of the mall
- Some kind of fidelity program for shopping in the mall
- Possibility of financing through a possible mall’s financial service
Customers will be able to choose what delivery option they want.
For a period of time after the order is placed, either online or offline, they will be able to change the method through the App, without charge. After then, if possible, they will still be able to change how to receive the order for a small charge. The only case it won’t be possible to change it is when it has been already sent for a home delivery.
The delivery services will be:
Click & collect services
Service available for all the stores, either they are engaged in the Order Fulfillment System or not. There will be a minimum time for the order to be available after the order is brought to the Delivery Services. If the store is engaged with the Order Fulfillment System, the complete management of the order will be done by the mall.
- Pickup in the mall
There may be a position inside the mall where customers may pick their orders. This position will be different to the information booth or other services. The goal is that customers don’t wait for their orders
- Pickup 24 hours in ATM
Situated outside the mall, but protected of climatology, this system allows customer to pick their orders up any moment they wish, 24/7
- Curbside pickup
There will be park positions where the customer will park and with the QR identification of the order (in the App) will send the signal to the delivery service that will bring the customer’s order to the place and load the truck, in few minutes. If the customer prefers a quicker service, she can use the geo-localization option in her App and when she indicates in the App that is coming to pick her order up, the system will calculate the time for bring the order to the curbside without having her waiting
Home delivery services
This service will be also available for all the stores, either they are engaged in the Order Fulfillment System (OFS) or not.
- Next day delivery
There will be a limit time for receiving the orders to deliver and the mall will manage the freight to the customer. If the order, instead is prepared by the Orders Fulfillment Services (OFS), the limit time will be managed and communicated by the mall to both, customers and stores
- Urgent delivery
Available only for stores that are in the OFS. Depending of the geographical area covered, the mall may offer different possibilities to deliver orders home. From 30 minutes to same day delivery may be a number of options, with different cost, that malls can offer to their customers
Inventory Management Services
Stores may rent storage positions to the mall warehouse. These storage positions will be euro-container of 600×400 mm and will help the store to utilize all the sq. Ft. available at the location as shop, instead of having a percentage to keep inventory. This solution will maximize the ROI of the rent money for the stores that will have at the same time somebody who will manage inventory for them.
Stores will ask for replenishment of the store, either manually of with some automatic system for replenishment, easily communicated with the mall services by API.
The store will still be in charge of the management of the own level of inventory.
Orders Fulfillment Services
To be able to use this service, stores will need also the Inventory Management Service.
There will be a Micro-Fulfillment Center (MFC) that will prepare the orders for home delivery or for click & collect. The MFC will be able to prepare, depending of the contract with the store, offline order made by visitors and to have them ready for pickup several minutes after the order is placed, avoiding the visitors to have to carry the bags around the mall. An alert will be sent to the customer once the order is ready.
These MFC will also be used to stow all the orders, prepared by the same MFC or by the stores for covering the different Delivery Services. It’s the core of the solution together with the App.
Disinfection: Health protection
A possible solution for future pandemics, and as a health prevention service would be to incorporate in the MFC a system to kill bacteria and virus. This could be a system based in Far UVC light. This light has proved to kill germens, including virus. This could be a great deal in managing situations as the one we are living in this moment. Once the order is ready, and will be introduce in the MFC, there will be a position where the order will be irradiated by Far UVC light with a wavelength of 254 nm. A new possibility, still in study and not yet approved would be the use of Far UVC light with a wavelength of 222 nm that would be inoffensive for humans and then it could be installed as well in the picking area and in the 24 hours pickup stations.
All these services would be based in three elements: A Micro-fulfillment system, a click and collect system and an app for visitors. Let’s analyze each of them and how the complement each other.
Micro Fulfillment system
An automated intralogistics system that will have the following characteristics:
This automated system will provide the following services:
- Inventory storage
- Preparations of online orders
- Preparation of offline orders for later delivery
- Deposit for customer’s orders
- Meeting point of different vendors orders for the same customer
For this reason, the system will have the following characteristics:
- High storage density: over 40 euro-box per sq. meter
- Throughput: in the order of 240 lines per hour with potential to scale up
- Response time: delivery of single euro-box in less than one minute, to avoid long waiting times
Click and Collect system
- The click&collect station and the 24/7 station will be linked to the MFS, and the system will provide the orders stowed in less than one minute
- With the same system, the employees dedicated to the curbside pickup, will receive the orders and bring to the car positions.
- For orders to be send home, a delivery area in the warehouse will be dedicated for the couriers to pick the orders
Described above, created, personalized and sold together with the MFS and the click&collect systems that have been chosen. Available in IOS and Android.