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Protecting Foot Traffic, the “Endless Aisle” and the Consumer Wallet: My Reflections from the NSW Property Council of Australia Retail Outlook Breakfast

Taking the calculated risk of jumping on a plane and meeting some of the property community in real life meant the opportunity to attend the event, and see what’s in store for the retail industry in 2021.

Martin Place, Sydney


Property Council of Australia
NSW Retail Outlook Breakfast
Sydney, 10 February 2020

Kelly Slessor, ShopYou
Shane Lenton, Cue Clothing

With panellists:
Michelle Abbey, Head of Retail at Stockland
David McNamara, Head of Retail at Lendlease
Marco Ettore, Head of Retail and Investments at AMP

Supported by Moderator:
Leanne Lieu, Managing Editor, Shopping Centre News


Protect the foot traffic.  
Endless aisle. 
The Consumer Wallet.  

Three terms I keep thinking about from attending the NSW Property Council of Australia Retail Outlook breakfast in Sydney yesterday. Taking the calculated risk of jumping on a plane and meeting some of the property community in real life meant the opportunity to attend the event and see what’s in store for the retail industry in 2021. 

Whilst I’ve had my own thoughts on the future of retail, hearing Kelly Slessor’s (ShopYou) perspective on the retailers’ needs and how landlords can support these initiatives was enlightening, and supports the evidence that bricks and mortar is certainly not dead. In fact, in Australia, even through 2020, online retailing accounts for only 13% of the overall retail spend. Comparatively, in the UK, this has jumped to 30%.  Suffice to say the conversation about protecting the foot traffic should be paramount in the minds of landlords to ensure a unique experience is provided for customers when they do venture out to their local shopping centres.

The biggest problem in relation to SME retailers is that they often do not have a sufficient online presence to enable customers to discover them. This is heightened by the fact that 63% of customers first head to Google for all of their buying needs before following up in person, according to Kelly. This means that many local businesses are missing out on being discovered and, as a result, experience a loss in sales.

Kelly suggests landlords support this by providing in-centre studios where SME retailers can record and share their products and services, while simultaneously broadcasting across social media. Considering social media content generally only results in a 1% conversion rate, this is particularly important.

In summary, the move away from pure omni channel play to protecting foot traffic and the physical retailers’ capacity to be found online was my top take away from Kelly’s presentation.  I also believe this partnership – the one between retailer and landlord – is as important as ever in the mission to keep online buying % at its current level.

Shane Lenton from Cue Clothing followed on from Kelly and explained the Nirvana of unified commerce: where in-store and online experiences come together, to form the delightful customer experience that I am a fan of (sitting in the audience in a Cue outfit supporting this!)  This notion of the ‘endless aisle’ is one that isn’t lost on me, given the endless rabbit hole one can go down when researching on the internet. However, the benefits to the customer from an ease of access perspective is a great one, and adds further value to the interaction of the physical and digital worlds.

Cue’s approach of ‘buy anywhere, fill anywhere’ has enabled them to stand out in the Australian market, and is supported by their being the largest local manufacturer in Australia (which has also provided supply chain advantages during COVID.)

At the breakfast

Having a modern tech stack with a core platform at the heart of what the retailer does provides Cue with a single source of truth. This then allows their customers to buy from any location, and Cue can fulfill the order across the entire network. I can see a similarity with this and TCPinpoint, given we enable that one version of the truth for tenancy delivery teams, enabling access to data across their entire network and thus improving collaboration and response times.

In effect, the future of retail is not only about embracing and supporting the physical; but working through better ways to intertwine the two environments to work seamlessly together and provide returns for retailers and their customers.

With the panel discussion following, moderated by Shopping Centre News’ Managing Editor Leanne Liu, it’s clear mixed use assets are at the forefront of landlords’ minds, with AMP (Marco Ettore, Head of Retail and Investments), Stockland (Michelle Abbey, Head of Retail) and Lendlease (David McNamara, Head of Retail) as they chase the consumer wallet. The implementation of technology and ensuring ongoing positive relationships with their tenants was articulated in a way that was clear: without it, the shopping centre experience would decline.

Themes of accessibility and sustainability were also discussed by the panel, showcasing the Australian Landlords’ goals of impacting positively on our environment. It was wonderful to see Stockland engaging with fellow startup Bindi Maps throughout their centres to enable improved accessibility.  ????

The panel finished with a discussion focussed on what they are most excited about in 2021.  This ranged from a mixture of how technology will impact the customer experience within their centres, through to shaking hands and having a hug and even flying off to exotic locations (maybe). All in all, what we want is for our SME retailers to grow their digital literacy and thrive from the results in doing so; enabling customers to shop local and support their local ecosystems to ensure the future of retail.

And as for the Victorian Retail Outlook? Well, I flew in to Melbourne to attend the Victorian Property Council’s Retail Outlook, only to fly out again due to SA border lockdowns and needing to get home to Adelaide to avoid a 14 day quarantine. Would love to hear from anyone that was there who can provide me with their top takeaways! In the meantime, we’re thinking of our Victorian community heading into a 5 day hard lockdown.

Rachel Kidwell, Founder