With the rise of Amazon and other online retailers, going to the mall has become less popular. Why go through the hassle of traveling and fighting crowds to do something that can be done from the comfort of your home?
In-store shopping has become tiresome and unnecessary for consumers. Retail big-box stores aren’t the only institutions losing out. Malls often house local businesses that may not have a strong online presence. Malls are a place where people can gather and bring money back to the community—at least, that’s how it used to be.
Unlike online retailers, malls contribute sales tax, property tax and school taxes to the city, consequently supporting civic services and public safety. It might be easier to place an order online, but shopping at your local mall has a direct impact on improving your community.
To fight back against online retailers, two malls in Arizona are seeking to make the mall the “place to be” by obtaining liquor licenses and allowing customers to shop with a drink in hand.
According to Arizona Capitol Times, Governor Doug Ducey wanted to create an initiative to bring business back to local malls. It wasn’t simply a push-back against Amazon or other online retailers, but a desire to increase revenues for the community and the city as a whole.
The lawmakers knew it would be a tough sell to wrestle people away from their laptops, so they brainstormed how to improve the shopping experience from the customer’s point of view. What could malls give people that Amazon couldn’t? The answer: a complete shopping experience.
They settled on creating an experience that would allow people to shop and mingle with an adult beverage in hand, any time the mall restaurants are serving alcohol.
Why? It would make the mall experience more reminiscent of a sporting event. After all, people can watch their favorite sports teams on television, but they continue to pack the stadiums.
According to AZ Central, Desert Ridge Marketplace in north Phoenix became the first shopping center in Arizona to take advantage of the new alcohol-friendly legislation, with Tempe Marketplace soon to follow. This is basically a testing phase, to see how consumers react.
David Larcher, president of the company that owns Desert Ridge Marketplace, told AZ Central: “Shopping centers need to be relevant — people just can’t be shopping. Malls need to be destinations, and food, beverages, entertainment, and art are all part of that.”
The beverage sales will be operated by Copper Cantina, an outdoor kiosk located inside of the Desert Ridge Property. Customers will be given alcohol in special cups, as well as administered wristbands, to verify eligibility.
From the lawmakers to mall owners, everyone involved is optimistic about the new legislation. By focusing squarely on improving the customer experience, these innovators are fighting back against online retailers to ensure that malls not only stay relevant, but also thrive. The mall might become more than simply the place to be again; it will contribute valuable tax money back to the community.
Interested in learning more about the civic dimension of human-centered design? Read our posts on innovation and urban planning in Taipei and Vienna.
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