Published On: March 22, 2017

Generally speaking, Canadian consumers enjoy the comfort of shopping at malls that shield their customers from the unpredictable climatic elements, especially through winter season. With the proliferation of the indoor mall shopping experience nationwide, Canadians have grown accustomed to shopping in these clean, well-lit and climate controlled environments. In more recent years, Canadian architecture and real estate giants have looked to their neighbours to the South for inspiration, resulting in the rise of outdoor shopping strip concepts. For quite some time, Americans have enjoyed open air shopping outlets mainly in the warmer states that allow for customers to stroll outside leisurely while finding their favourite brands. As a result, Canadians are now becoming more amenable to outdoor shopping centres which create a uniquely different shopping experience. Assuming neutral weather, MONEXgroup is interested to find out what shopping experience preference fellow Canadians have. Would you prefer an indoor mall or shopping outdoors? Read on to find out what we discovered.

Shopping Indoors vs. Outdoors

An article was written by the Globe and Mail that explored the phenomenon behind the rising popularity of outdoor Lifestyle Centres. It was found that consumers no longer want to drive to enclosed malls with “ubiquitous anchors and claustrophobic ambience”. They also don’t want to waste their time searching for an item they found online but can’t physically find because they first have to find the store on a busy directory listing, and the item is like a needle in a haystack.

According to Maureen Atkinson, Senior partner at the J.C. Williams Group, “what people want today is easy access to retailers, cozy and intricate designs and a place to linger whether it’s over coffee or lunch.”

The essence of what Atkinson described is called the “Lifestyle Centre” Canada’s first such development was Village at Park Royal in West Vancouver. This retail village was opened in September 2004 and has the feel of a country town. Shoppers are able to stroll along wide sidewalks, relax on benches, scope out sculptures and shop at specialty retailers.

The Benefits of Shopping Inside

The benefits of shopping inside a mall are as follows:

Availability of Parking

Parking in the city is one of the biggest problems that people have to face on a daily basis. Shopping in malls eliminates this problem, because multi-level parking is offered for free. This value makes it advantageous for people who choose to shop at malls instead of the busy downtown streets of urban centres, where parking spots can be expensive and scarce.

A One Stop Shop for shopping, dining and entertainment

Visiting a mall is very convenient because customers can find everything there, including clothes, shoes, reading material, food courts, cinemas and other entertainment which are all available in one place. Nowadays, there’s so much to do at a mall. You can spend a whole day at the mall, shopping, dining, watching a movie or playing games. Therefore, a mall acts as a one-stop shop and full-day activity excursion for visitors.

Disadvantages of Shopping in an Indoor Mall

The disadvantages of shopping inside a mall are as follows:

Overcrowding seems to be an issue with shopping inside a mall especially on weekends and holidays. Seniors with mobility issues will have challenges maneuvering around the mall, and even though parking is free, people will compete for the spots when it’s busy.

Discourages Personal Interaction between Shoppers

Humans by nature want and like to engage. We want a sense of community and to be in a social environment, it’s part of who we are and feeling alive. Enclosed derivative malls aren’t conducive to for meaningful interaction between people as everyone is bustling around the mall, minding their own business, ignoring people around them. For example, take the Grove in Los Angeles; it was designed for people to enjoy just being there. Merchants have noticed their sales go up because customers walk around; they see friends, couples, and families and finding that human connection with each other subliminally drives them to shop (Why Lifestyle Centre thrives).

The Benefits of Shopping Outside

Less Competition

Outdoor shopping outlets are now known as “Lifestyle Centres”  that have upscale chain and specialty stores with dining and entertainment options, but in an outside setting.

One benefit of shopping outside in a lifestyle centre is that the stores included in the complex are not necessarily franchised corporate stores, but also unique independent shops offering a different variety of products. Therefore, the competition between smaller shops and national chain stores won’t be as intense, which benefits the overall success of all stores at lifestyle centres (Lifestyle Centres).

Cheaper to Build

Depending on the architectural design, a lifestyle centre typically costs about 25 per cent less to build than a mall. This is mainly because of outrageous air-conditioning and heating requirements plus maintenance costs for retailers, which runs about one third more expensive for an enclosed mall retailer.

The Architecture of Lifestyle Centres

The architecture at lifestyle centres is purposefully designed to allow for more intimate interaction and showcase a certain modernized look. Over time, with the same cookie-cutter design and outlook of shops confined in a mall space, consumers are tired of spending their weekends at malls because they have to look at the same generic environment all the time. On the other hand, shopping at lifestyle centres will create a breath of fresh air customers as they can breeze through the opened-space and not be overwhelmed with people (The Architecture of Lifestyle Centres).

What Motivates People to Buy

According to the research conducted by PwC, social media is still the number one influential factor that consumers rely on when shopping for an item of interest. The study found that social media has a major impact on Canadian buying decisions, as 40% of Canadian respondents report that they read product reviews and feedback on social media first before they decide to buy. This phenomenon is particularly apparent for the consumers under the age of 24, going up to 55%.

Implementing a loyalty program is an integral part of the retail marketing strategy in retaining customers, as 95% of Canadian consumers reported participation in at least one loyalty program. Strong incentives that encourage Millennials to buy are having access to members-only benefits and discounts (78%), collecting points that can be converted into air miles or monetary value (73%) and access to free shipping (71%). Moreover, Millennials are more likely to purchase from out-of-country retailers, with 63% saying they were likely to do so because they can find better deals.

Value continues to be the most substantial driver for purchases since 66% of Canadians will shop at their favourite retailers because of their prices. Other key considerations are stock selection, return policy, trust in the brand and, the quality of a rewards program (How Canadians Decide to Buy).

Research conducted by HubSpot resulted in the following findings about 8 key important factors why people shop:

  • The top driving purchasing factor (56%) is product quality
  • On a store-front level, competitive pricing drives purchasing decisions
  • 62% of shoppers research big-ticket items in-store before buying online
  • 9 out of 10 survey responders say they watch videos about the tech products they are interested in buying
  • 54% of shoppers are Smartphone owners, and 76% of owners use their phone while shopping
  • 81% say social media posts from their friends directly influenced their purchasing decision
  • 30% survey responders say they will respond to brand offers when they have been reposted by a friend on Facebook or Twitter
  • 44% of people are most likely to engage with branded content that contains pictures; with video content at 40%

Benefits of Partnering with MONEXgroup

MONEXgroup is a leading Canadian point-of-sale and merchant service provider based in Toronto. Our countertop POS terminals have the Tap & Go feature which presents an excellent selection for a brick-and-mortar store. While our flex terminal operates in WiFi and LTE networks which is ideal for businesses on-the-go. For online merchants, we offer a full suite of E-Commerce solutions. But rain or shine, indoors or outside, employing a reliable and efficient payment solution is vital to the success of your business!

When partnering with the number one payment processor in Canada; MONEXgroup will increase your efficiency and quality of service and lower the related costs. Request a Cost Comparison Analysis today.

Author: Lindsey Lu, Marketing Communication Specialist, MONEXgroup
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