Ivana Ristic: “Shopping centers of the future will gain an entirely new dimension through digitalization”

Written by Flame

Ivana Ristic, malls digitalization

Welcome to our interview series, where we explore the perspectives of industry leaders. Today, we have the pleasure of speaking with Ivana Ristic, Marketing Manager at Rajiceva Shopping Center. In this interview, Ivana discusses the current state of the shopping center industry as it stabilizes post-pandemic, highlighting a significant increase in customer interest and foot traffic. She delves into the challenges posed by economic uncertainty and the rise of digitalization, emphasizing the importance of technology and data analytics in enhancing customer experiences and loyalty.

Ivana also shares her optimistic vision for the future, where shopping centers will evolve into multifunctional, sustainable spaces driven by advanced technologies and personalized services. Don’t miss this insightful discussion on the future of retail and the strategies needed to thrive in a competitive market.

Malls interview – Digitalization in shopping centers

First of all, analyze the current situation… How are you living it?

Given the previous global events, the situation has now stabilized, and we have noticed a significant increase in people’s interest. After a long period of restrictions, people are eager to go out, shop, and experience new things. Shopping centers are complex spaces that offer a wide range of services and activities, including stores, restaurants, cafes, cinemas, and play areas. This diversity of content is particularly evident in the post-pandemic period, as people now more than ever seek places where they can spend quality time with family and friends.

Of course, economic uncertainty still exists, and digital transformation is on the rise. We are focusing on adapting to these changes by enhancing our online presence, improving health and safety measures, and finding innovative ways to engage our customers both online and offline.

What is the biggest problem or weakness that a shopping center has to face?

One of the biggest challenges that shopping centers face is the decline in foot traffic due to the increasing preference for online shopping. Today’s consumer is definitely spoiled with readily available information, and consequently, their standards are exceptionally high. They now make decisions based on countless factors, so it is crucial to provide as much information as possible about our services. This shift requires us to rethink our strategies, not only to attract visitors but also to convert those visits into meaningful and memorable experiences. Additionally, managing operational costs while ensuring a high-quality shopping experience remains a constant challenge.

What role does technology play? How does it help a shopping center in the current situation?

Technology plays a crucial role in transforming shopping centers into interactive, modern spaces. By using data analytics, personalized marketing campaigns allow us to better understand customer preferences and create targeted promotions, which helps in attracting and retaining customers.

  • Virtual tours and augmented reality (AR) enhance the shopping experience, enabling customers to explore the center from home and enjoy interactive elements in-store.
  • Mobile apps simplify shopping by helping customers find stores, access discounts, reserve parking, and participate in loyalty programs.
  • Interactive digital boards provide visitors with information about events and promotions.
  • Traffic analytics help us optimize store layouts and marketing strategies.
  • Smart parking systems and digital queue management reduce wait times and improve overall customer satisfaction.

These technological innovations not only enhance operational efficiency but also significantly improve the overall customer experience, which is essential for the success of shopping centers in today’s competitive environment.

rajiceva shopping center

How do you achieve customer loyalty now? What do you think this customer is looking for? How can we offer them an optimal experience?

In today’s business environment, achieving customer loyalty requires a deep understanding of their needs and expectations. Customers are looking for convenience, safety, and a personalized approach that makes them feel valued. To offer them an optimal experience, we need to provide more than just shopping – they want a comprehensive experience that includes entertainment, relaxation, and various services all in one place.

One of the key factors is understanding who our customers are and what our target group is. Achieving this requires research and analysis of their habits and preferences. When we know who our customers are, we can tailor our offers and campaigns directly to them, increasing the likelihood that they will return and shop with us again.

Today’s shopping centers must offer a variety of amenities to attract a wide range of customers. This includes stores, restaurants, cafes, cinemas, play areas for children, and relaxation spaces. This way, visitors can spend the entire day at the center, enjoying different activities that meet all their needs.

To achieve loyalty, it is important to personalize the approach to each customer. This means creating special events, loyalty programs, and exclusive offers tailored to their interests. Additionally, providing attractive discounts and promotional offers for price-sensitive customers is essential.

Our strategy is to create a pleasant and attractive environment where customers can meet all their needs, spend quality time, and feel valued. Through personalized services and diverse offerings, we create an optimal experience that fosters loyalty and satisfaction among our customers.

Are you optimistic about the future of this sector? What do you think the shopping center of the future will look like?

As a marketing manager of a shopping center, I am very optimistic about the future of this sector. I believe that shopping centers have already significantly adapted to the changing needs and expectations of modern consumers, becoming innovative spaces. However, the shopping centers of the future will gain an entirely new dimension through further digitalization.

Digital transformation will be a key element. Shopping centers will leverage advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and data analytics to provide personalized services and optimize the customer experience. Virtual and augmented reality will enable interactive and rich experiences, allowing customers to virtually try out products or explore the center’s offerings before their visit.

The development of digital technologies will play a crucial role in the presentation of products and services within shopping centers. For example, when customers want to purchase something like a baby stroller, they will be able to access all the necessary information with a single click. Currently, to obtain this information, they need to visit an application or website via their phone, or search the internet. In the future, all this information will be available at a single click. LED screens will display all the functionalities of products, including how they fold and unfold, providing much more information than is currently available.

Sustainability will also be of paramount importance. Shopping centers will invest in green technologies, utilizing renewable energy sources, energy-efficient systems, and recyclable materials. These efforts will not only reduce their ecological footprint but also attract environmentally conscious consumers who value sustainable practices.

Shopping centers are already destinations that offer much more than traditional shopping. They have become places for social interaction, education, and entertainment. In the future, this role will be even more pronounced. These facilities will allow visitors to spend quality time with family and friends, creating a rich and diverse experience.

Understanding and segmenting customers will be key to the future success of shopping centers. Through data analysis, we will be able to create targeted marketing campaigns that cater to the specific needs of different demographic groups. Personalization will become the norm, providing customers with tailored offers and services that match their individual preferences.

All these innovations and adaptations make me very optimistic about the future of shopping centers. I believe they will become multifunctional spaces that offer rich, diverse, and sustainable experiences for all visitors, ensuring their loyalty and satisfaction.

Shopping malls



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