04/08/2018 - Hanging sensory gardens, AI-infused walkways and dedicated wellness initiatives will be integral parts of the shopping centre of the future, according to a new vision unveiled by Westfield.
The concepts of experience, leisure, wellness and community will shape the evolution of the next generation of shopping centres, described as a “hyper-connected micro-cities” where eye scanners will bring up information about a visitor’s previous purchases to make recommendations.
This is part of Westfield’s Destination 2028’ vision, developed with the help of a panel of experts including a futurologist, fashion technology innovator, retail specialist and experimental physiologists.
As wellness becomes a top priority among consumers, the shopping centre of the future will include a ‘betterment zone’ where visitors can reflect in a mindfulness workshop, and tranquil green space both indoors and out. Meanwhile, allotments and farms will give visitors the chance to pick their own produce for their meal, while a network of waterways will offer not only an alternative route around the centre but access to watersports – one of the many recreational activities that will be available for visitors.
THE ‘EXTRA-PERIENCE’ AND RENTAL RETAIL
Tech will enable what Westfield is calling the ‘Extra-perience’ to provide customers with more information for their visit. Eye scanners will recommend personalised fast-lanes around the centre, while magic mirrors and smart changing rooms will show shoppers a virtual reflection of themselves wearing a variety of clothes and accessories. Further innovations will include smart loos that can detect hydration levels and nutritional needs, and reading rooms granting visitors access to every book ever written.
Meanwhile, stores will evolve into platforms where brands can connect with their customers via ‘classroom retail’, showcasing the makers and processes behind any product. This element will take on new importance as leisure and entertainment become central in attracting the next generation of visitors, with stage areas hosting a series of showpiece interactive activities and events.
Westfield predicts that rental retail will become the norm for post-millennials, who will be able to rent everything from clothes to exercise gear. Additionally, more temporary retail, pop-ups and co-working spaces will emerge.
“As we celebrate 10 years of pioneering retail in London we’re already looking forward to the next decade,” says Myf Ryan, chief marketing officer at Westfield UK and Europe. “We’ll continue to work closely with brands to deliver innovative retail spaces that create the ideal environment for them and our visitors – including developing technologies that converge digital and physical shopping to enhance that Extra-perience in state-of-the-art surroundings.”
Some of these ideas are already being tested at Westfield London, where a new outdoor space event is launching this summer. The centre’s £600 million expansion will also see the opening of Europe’s largest Japanese food hall, and the first super tech indoor mini-golf experience.
By Barbara Santamaria
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