Nina Kavaliova: «Technological innovation is linked to improving the customer experience»
Today we speak with Nina Kavaliova, Shopping Center Manager of the Diagonal Mar Shopping Center. Nina has a very positive vision for the future of this sector, in which offering an experience that meets consumer expectations is essential, and for what technology means a great ally.
Do you want to know more about her vision of the shopping center sector? Don’t miss this interview.
First of all, analyze the current situation… How are you living it?
Spanish shopping centers have managed to recover pre-covid sales and, in some cases, exceed them. In Diagonal Mar we have also recovered the tourist public, which has a higher average ticket, for this reason we see both the present and the future with optimism and enthusiasm. In addition, we have added 19 new stores and we continue to add new brands. Everything indicates that 2023 it is going to be a great year, with a boom in openings.
What is the biggest problem or weakness that a shopping center has to face?
The main challenges we have to face are the constant evolution and omnichannel nature of the sector. Although the paradigm initially seemed terrifying, the reality is that we had never been so aware of the need to reinvent ourselves and improve the experience we offered as we are. now.
After the pandemic, the online shopping model was established and consolidated. Fortunately, the shops and shopping centers have been able to take advantage of the new trends and establish a hybrid model that has been consolidated.
What role does technology play? How does it help a Shopping Center in the current situation?
At CBRE, technology is fully integrated and forms part of the management of the shopping centre, proof of this is the existence of the Retail Intelligence department. The technology optimizes communication between managers, tenants and the end customer; and it also makes it easier for owners to have all the information almost in real time: traffic, sales, contracts… The evolution in recent years has been extraordinary, combining Retail knowledge with digital experts to truly transform the shopping experience into an omnichannel one.
Technology optimizes communication and makes it easier for owners to have all the information in almost real time.
In addition, technological innovation is currently linked to improving the customer experience of visitors, as has happened in the new Lefties Digital Store concept, which recently opened its doors in Diagonal Mar, where our customers have been the main beneficiaries.
How do you achieve customer loyalty now? What do you think this customer is looking for? How can we offer them an optimal experience?
Listening to their needs and adapting the offer of services and brands, to turn their visit to Diagonal Mar into a unique experience.
In our case, we ensure that the commercial offer exceeds their expectations, that it is honest and realistic, in addition to offering services and activities that allow them to go further and make their visit memorable. We are proud when our clients tell us that they met us through the Diagonal Mar Summer Festival or the Christmas Village.
Are you optimistic about the future of this sector? What do you think the mall of the future will be like?
Shopping centers are currently in a period of strong growth. In Spain, 17 new locations will be opened throughout the national territory. It is +240% in openings vs. 2022, when 5 centers have opened, as reported by the Spanish Association of Shopping Centers
In China more than a thousand will open, throughout Asia thousands. There are also openings planned in other LATAM and African countries.
The shopping center sector is currently experiencing a period of strong growth.
And if we talk about retailers, of course there are also expansion plans. For example, Uniqlo announced that it will open at least 300 new stores by 2023.
Brands need to express their universe in a tangible way, this is very difficult to do online. Physical stores are needed to build and transmit the brand, its values, its essence. This is valid for both the fast fashion market and the luxury market.
And it is a reality that has been and will continue to be valid. We have seen a strong commitment to physical stores last year with the opening of Lefties Digital Store, the first store in the world with this concept that has opened in Diagonal Mar or Mango with a Mediterranean concept in New York. Regarding retailers Online, for example, Alibaba already has 1.5 million stores in its ecosystem, Jd.com will approach half a million, and Amazon this year will exceed 700 physical stores.