Dirk Hünerbein expects that the retail trade itself and buildings will need to change considerably in the future in order to offer customers a sustainable shopping experience with the character of an event. He also emphasizes the need for a regional context in an increasingly globalized world.
Dirk Hünerbein, the bricks and mortar retail trade has for years been lagging behind the performance of the economy as a whole. Where should the retail sector invest?
At the moment, a lot is being invested in real estate, in other words on the landlord side, to get buildings fit for purpose in the future and to ensure that they can continue to serve as a platform for the retail business. Retailers themselves have invested a lot in e-commerce platforms, which of course is also justified, and in doing so have somewhat neglected the development of rented premises. But this is precisely where they showcase their brands and products. In the virtual channels, clients love the stories and people who are associated with the products. In shops, the new sneakers sit on a shelf next to many, while on the Internet, customers get the whole life story of the tennis star of their youth, to match the shoe. Placing an order is only a click away. Shopping has long since ceased to be just about the purchase of a certain product – it is about the buying experience and the entertainment factor. This works best through the strategic use of all the necessary channels, both online and offline.
You are also responsible for a number of projects in an international environment. What trends do you see?
Nowadays, many people expect a solution specific to their particular needs, including their consumer behavior. You don't have to be a jet-setter to stroll through the malls of Dubai. Smartphones give us access to other realms of experience, anytime, anywhere. Nevertheless, or perhaps precisely because of this, we want to identify with our home in our immediate living environment, and we also want to be able to experience that of our friends. This applies just as much to the branding of the buildings' structural shells as to the products in the rented retail space. Shopping centers may also form a nucleus for district development, if they are designed in a more lively and integrated way. From pop-up stores to co-working spaces through community events, there are many different ways to get shopping centers out of their deep slumber and integrate them into the urban planning environment.
On the basis of a mixed-use development in the Netherlands, Dirk Hünerbein will present what the successful transformation of a shopping center can look like, at the Expert Talk: European Real Estate Markets on June 19, 2018 in Frankfurt/Main.