I am continuously in and out of shopping centres, being vigilant of the types of people that walk past, only because I am just a people watching kind of person on my work breaks. Have you ever noticed how slim and suggestive the display mannequins that wear clothes in a shopfront are? I mean from a guys perspective when I see a six-foot, solid strong chiselled jawline synthetic human wearing a shirt I want, the last thing I want to feel is being visually compared among. I wonder if someone’s been violent with one from the discouraged confidence of wearing the same outfit?
The understanding of window-shopping is driven by the idea of stage presence. It is a studied theory in which aspires and searches for an audience, “visual vocabulary from which statements about her or his social relations” (Zhang et al. 2017). There is a subconscious decision or thought by one who looks through a shopfront advertisement or plastic model and discovers something that they may or may not want.
In contrast to how a shopping centre is designed for aspiring to these fantasies, online shopping becomes much more efficient way to help consumers find the product they want from this sea of choice, providing advanced technological features such as search functions and recommendation systems on their websites. “People want something new, something other people don’t have. Couldn’t an Australian retailer offer shoppers in the US, the UK, something different?”, vice versa (Alberici 2019)
Although the sense of touch and feel is impossible through a screen, it uses in-depth customer knowledge, data analytics and artificial intelligence to understand each shopper and subconsciously outweigh the desire of wanting to touch. Online stores use social media platforms to engage with their audience, they use real people! Social influences have become an alternative to window-shopping mannequins and have now become so practical for shopping fantasies that people have greater confidence in buying the product. However one thing shopping centres have on e-commerce is the sense of trust, trust in the quality, trust in the sizing and most importantly trust in the customer’s money.
Westfield released a statement outlining many future plans and technological innovations to their shopping centres. I will not dwell on the entire additional concepts in this particular blog. However, they believe that prosperity will be driven by “personal product-matching to meet consumers evolving demands and imaginations” (Renno 2019). By doing so will mean for advanced facial recognition within shopping centres that would analyse and group each person into categories. Things such as advertising boards are able to regurgitate and market something that might be of their interest. In other words, they are attempting to mimic what the virtual world of online shopping does.
As a retail worker and a somewhat consumerist who has quite a scope on the foot traffic in a shopping centre daily, I feel that by integrating new technology innovations as such may work, however, I think it still pushes the boundaries having control over a person’s interests and consumerist behaviours. It also plays into question the topic of privately owned public space. It needs a new form, one in which focuses more on its physical realm advantages such as touch and smell. Redesigning window shops that create the desire to see how shoes and clothes are not necessarily worn and displayed but how they are made to suit the particular customer, a human touch.
Alberici, Emma. 2019. “Australian Retailers Are Losing The Online Race”. ABC News. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-06-17/alberici-online-shopping/4760168.
Renno, Rafael. 2019. “Why Retail Analytics Are Critical For Physical Stores | Jabil”. Jabil.Com. https://www.jabil.com/insights/blog-main/retail-analytics-in-stores.html.
Zhang, Yuchi, Michael Trusov, Andrew T. Stephen, and Zainab Jamal. 2017. “Online Shopping And Social Media: Friends Or Foes?”. Journal Of Marketing 81 (6): 24-41. doi:10.1509/jm.14.0344.