The retail highlight of 2013 so far has been the unveiling of the only major UK shopping centre that is due to open this year – the one million sq ft Trinity Leeds.
More than 130,000 people flocked to the £350m development on opening day, with hundreds queuing outside, to take in the launch event created by British designer Henry Holland.
Several new brands have moved to the city by opening in the centre. With more than half of the 120 shops already open for business and the rest scheduled to gradually start trading, it has already proven a hit with shoppers.
Built in the heart of Leeds across three former open streets, with an enormous and impressive glass dome roof, it is being hailed as a key leap forward in retail, delivering a vastly more superior customer experience.
Why? Because owner Land Securities has invested in a level of technology not seen before in Britain’s shopping centres.
By the entrances, huge interactive displays controlled by hand gestures show events information and link to store promotions. Free WiFi is also available, whilst assistants with internet-connected iPads are helpfully on hand to show shoppers precisely where to find their desired product.
This style of shopping serves to make the customer journey much more efficient, direct and enjoyable, giving people the confidence to go into stores and buy. There is even a smartphone app to keep regular visitors updated with new store openings and offers.
Tensator knows from experience that the customer journey doesn’t just start at the store threshold. It starts with an idea, desire or need – at home after an internet search, seeing an advert on TV or after a prompt by text message whilst on the high street.
This is what Trinity Leeds has captured so well. It has used a range of technologies to streamline and manage the entire process of shopping – not just focussing on the final ten minutes. Many of these new elements can also act as a stimulus, prompting people to start a whole new customer journey and, therefore, buy more in the mall. It is an excellent example of how thinking of a shopping centre as one complete process, rather than several individual ones, can heighten the experience as a whole.
It is this process of prompting people to start a whole new customer journey that makes the centre a first in retail, which should now lead the way for other malls in the UK, as a vibrant example of what technology can do to help shopping.
The upshot is that once visitors have been to Trinity Leeds and experienced the ease with which they can find and buy products, they will want to return. It is why both customers and retailers will be better off for this new approach.