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Brief Published: 6 Nov 2019

Intl Council of Shopping Centers Summit 2019: The Highlights

Miami Brickell mall

The annual Research Connections Conference for the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) - October 27-29 - engaged retail strategists, investors and property developers in debate about the new rules of mall retailing. From evolved omni-channel strategies to new-gen partnerships grounded in outsourcing culture, we highlight some of the key takeaways.

High Maintenance, Low Patience: Retail’s Outsourcing Opportunity

The twin consumer traits of “high maintenance and low patience” will reshape retail, said Melina Cordero, retail capital markets managing director at global commercial real estate business CBRE. This will fuel powerful new collaborations, whereby consumers can outsource or double up on key tasks directly via brands.

She cited Ikea’s ingenious partnership with US app TaskRabbit, which it has since acquired. It matches freelance labour with local demand – connecting those who are more ‘Do-It-for-Me’ than DIY with people willing to assemble furniture for them, all via Ikea’s website. 

She also mentioned US fashion rental player Rent the Runway, which now has drop-off points in WeWork co-working spaces throughout the US; and American home improvement brand Home Depot’s partnership with Pinterest. In 2018, the retailer placed 360° ‘built-in’ pins (time-lapse videos) on the social platform to show full DIY room transformations. The ‘after’ shots could be navigated virtually and instantly shopped via 'Shop Now' buttons.

New Constituent Parts

Cordero also urged a rethink of mall components to accommodate fluctuating attitudes to fitness, health and education. She flagged that “while Americans are spending more on fitness, only 25-30% have a gym membership” – opening opportunities for mall-based fitness spaces. She also cited the increasing demand for mainstream medical assistance, referencing the Medical Mall Pharmacy in New Jersey (see Medi-Retail for more). “Experimentation and daring will be rewarded,” added Cordero. 


Dealing with the future of physical retailing in a digital landscape, Stylus’ own head of Retail, Katie Baron, discussed ‘Control & Command’ stores. These spaces are designed with accompanying technology to let visitors view and extract content and/or connect with staff on their own terms.

Peter Busalacchi, location strategy and analytics manager for French beauty brand Sephora’s US division, revealed its omni-channel consumers spend three times as much as its single-channel fans.

See Omni-Commerce Gets Personal and Brand Spaces: 10 Trends & Opportunities, 19/20 for more.