Lewis Retail Centers continues to believe in the necessity of brick-and-mortar retail, but the investor also knows that changes are coming to the market. The future of physical retail hinges on bridging the gap between ecommerce and retail, which includes partnering with ecommerce providers and employing digital marketing tools.
“We focus strongly on bridging the gap between physical retail and ecommerce. We no longer believe, ‘Build it and they will come.’ We’ve implemented a robust digital marketing plan for the majority of our shopping centers that in years past may not have warranted such a program,” Randall W. Lewis, EVP of marketing for Lewis Retail Centers, tells GlobeSt.com. “Each of our shopping centers now has digital assets in place that make it easier for the community to find, engage and shop with our tenants.”
While the firm is adapting to the new world, it also recognizes that retail will continue to be an experienced-based asset, and experience will continue to play a role following the pandemic. ‘We recognize that the retail experience is something customers can’t get online, so it is especially important now—as we navigate through e-commerce and the pandemic—to keep our centers attractive and inviting places for the community to gather,” says Lewis. “This was the philosophy behind our recent renovation of Regency Park Plaza in Vacaville, California. By upgrading the lighting, repainting the exterior, and adding elements to give it a more modern look, we were able to refresh the public’s experience in this center and keep it current.”
Overall, retail continues to have an important place in the commercial market, but it will need to once again adapt and change to new consumer needs. That is likely the true theme of retail: adaptability. “Retail has a very exciting future, despite all of the challenges it is currently facing,” says Lewis. “This is a sector that has had to reinvent itself many times and has done so successfully in the face of dire predictions that never materialized.”
Developers and investors willing to understand those new needs and changing consumer habits, and that can remain agile; will see success in the retail sector. “Those retail developers and investors who take the time to study and act on relevant consumer buying and demographic data, develop the right tenant mix to support both tenants and customers, keep their centers attractive and vibrant, and work with the community to provide important community services are going to lead the industry going forward,” explains Lewis.