Nikola Grđan: “Staying updated with the latest technology helps centers communicate better”

Written by Flame

Latest technology in malls - Nikola ROS Retail outlet shopping

Welcome to our interview series, where we explore the insights of industry leaders. Today, we speak with Nikola Grđan, Center Manager at ROS Retail Outlet Shopping. Nikola discusses the challenges faced by shopping centers due to the pandemic, high inflation, and new trade laws in Croatia. Despite these hurdles, he highlights the resilience of outlet centers, which tend to perform well during crises. Nikola emphasizes that latest technology is enhancing operations and sustainability, as well as strategies for achieving customer loyalty through VIP programs and diverse offerings.

He also shares his optimism about the future, predicting a shift towards sustainable shopping and increased technological integration in retail outlets. Don’t miss this insightful discussion on navigating market challenges and the future of retail.

Malls Interview – Role of latest technology in outlets

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

I would say that current market conditions are putting a lot of pressure on businesses – from the pandemic period, the introduction of the euro as well as high inflation. Besides, one of the most challenging periods for us was also after the implementation of the new Trade law in Croatia with the new statutory provisions regarding retail stores’ working hours, which are primarily aimed at choosing only 16 operating Sunday in a whole year and holidays working ban.

Even if the whole situation is for some businesses maybe uncertain, for us, it is relatively straightforward because outlet centers tend to perform better during a crisis. Turnover is increasing even though we’ve expected some deviations in KPI’s taking into the consideration that Sundays were our second-strongest day of the week.

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

The primary challenge we currently encounter, as previously discussed, pertains to the ban on Sunday and holiday work, along with the implementation of various trade laws over the past two years, which remain inadequately defined. Considering this and our experience in other markets, introducing new international brands and expanding our existing offer not only broadens our customer base but also enhances our competitive position.

In summary, this strategic approach positions us well to tackle the market challenges we face and ensures our continued growth and success.

ROS retail outlet shopping Croatia

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

We must keep up with the latest technology because, for an example, in the context of marketing it is essential for us to easily reach and interact adequately with our targeted audience through digital tools. It also supports sustainability through energy-efficient systems and digital transaction methods, using renewable energy and reducing our environmental footprint enabling us to be more agile and efficient.

Furthermore, technology is helping us to centralize all the important information into one place, improves decision-making, and ensures all team members have access to the latest data. Overall, staying updated with the latest technology helps outlet centers communicate better, operate more efficiently, engage customers, and adopt sustainable practices.

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

We have a VIP Club in the context of which we offer special benefits to our customers. We give them off-season discounts, birthday vouchers, we reward their purchase as well as providing information about all events and special promotions in the Centre.

For customers interested in various premium brands, there is no better place to buy a brand at -30%, half price, or even up to -70% off. Analogous to the previous discount policy, I would claim that the outlet center is an ideal shopping destination for customers who are not price-sensitive and who also want to buy high-quality assortment which can last several seasons.

To provide the best experience, we offer a variety of renowned global brands that resonate well with the market, as evidenced by our consistent sales growth. Additionally, our open-air architecture, lush greenery, spacious playgrounds for kids, and relaxing zones are designed to create an appealing and inviting atmosphere, enhancing the overall look and feel of our center.

We also strive to engage customers through various activities, events, ESG actions and gastronomic offers, aiming to make every visit enjoyable and memorable, encouraging customers to spend more time with us.

Are you optimistic about the future of this sector? What do you think the mall of the future will be like?

I’m quite positive about the outlet business since here’s a growing trend of outlet centers opening across Europe. We should have in mind that Croatia’s outlet market is still relatively small, with not many outlet centers. Our outlet is the first to meet European standards, offering discounts of 30-70% throughout the year. As a result, a major international brands like Hugo Boss, Tommy Hilfiger, Tom Tailor, Calvin Klein, and Skechers are either expanding or planning to expand in our center. We’re also receiving requests from abroad for new brands to enter the Croatian market.

As for the outlet center of the future, I see a shift away from fast fashion towards more sustainable buying, which aligns perfectly with the outlet model.

Additionally, I anticipate that technology will play an even greater role in operations. For instance, customers could use virtual try-ons with body scanners, a direction we are keen to explore. Marketing tools will also continue to evolve, allowing us to target customers more precisely. While virtual experiences will grow, there will always be a strong demand for the tangible, real-world shopping experience that centres provides.

Shopping malls



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