The future of the mall looks more like Minority Report

Lauren Lyster
Yahoo Finance

 

Plenty of lip-service has been paid to the "death" of the American mall since the financial crisis. While some data shows the mall is still very alive, what are the country's shopping destinations doing to keep it that way when online shopping is so convenient?

Related: Back from the dead: why the shopping mall is stronger than ever

Well, the future of the mall is either very convenient or very intrusive, depending on your point-of-view.

Related: The future of the shopping mall is...the shopping mall

Michael Kercheval, president and CEO of the International Council of Shopping Centers (whose purposes is to advance the shopping center industry) talks to us in the video above about some of the ways malls are bringing in traffic and rewarding the consumers for just walking in.

He says malls and shopping centers have been using near-field technology so that when visitors walk in, they're sent a message on their cell phones welcoming them and telling them where the sales are.

Do people like that or are they creeped out? According to Kercheval, at least, they like it because they want to know where the sales are.

The technology, he says, has become more advanced, delivering coupons when you enter the mall and rewards for visiting. And now, the technology being rolled out in malls is using bluetooth, which he says makes it "more sophisticated and more secure with data privacy" and can be customized for shoppers.

So the modern mall may not look exactly like the scene from the motion picture Minority Report, where Tom Cruise walks into the Gap and the store recognizes him, but with the mall recognizing your phone, it's not that far off.

But what about the cohort that everyone is after: millennials? You could imagine the mall would be less appealing to a generation so comfortable doing everything online. Kercheval said the ICSC conducted a survey and found millennials actually "prefer to shop in a shopping center," as they "like the social aspect and like to touch the merchandise."

As one survey put it, "malls are cool, like a realy world Amazon."

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