Liverpool ONE shows how Retail can thrive in the Digital Age

Posted on 22 July, 2015 by Cliff Goodwin

Liverpool ONE — the city centre retail and leisure complex — has responded to the challenge of the online retail sector by increasing its catchment by 73 per cent and getting a near-100 per cent promise from its visitors that they will return.


Explaining how the 42-acre retail-led scheme met the internet challenge Miles Dunnett, Portfolio Director with developer Grosvenor Fund Management, admits, “the internet is a fantastic way for people to shop. It’s quick, easy and purchases can be delivered to you”.

But, added the investment portfolio director: “The quality of experience that online shopping delivers is limited, and unreliable, and it is the direct opposite of this that we focus on at Liverpool ONE.  People want to do more than shop.  They want a day out, an opportunity to socialise with friends, to be entertained and to experience something new.”

With a development cost reported to be £920m, Liverpool ONE is the largest open air shopping centre in the United Kingdom and the fifth largest worldwide. Its retail element is anchored by department stores Debenhams and John Lewis.

Alongside the scale and mix of the retail offering, Dunnett claims entertainment can play a key role in attracting visitors and maintaining customer loyalty.

“From day one, we have brought flash mobs, catwalks, open-air music performances and cookery demonstrations to visitors,” he said. “There have been ice rinks and Christmas Coca-Cola lorry drive-bys, reading trees and pianos, and evening as well as daytime events.

“We have also listened to our customers and responded by carefully curating the tenant mix to make sure there is a good variety of restaurants and leisure facilities to complement the stores.”  Since the first stage was completed in 2008, a 14-screen Odeon cinema has opened at Liverpool One and the number of food and beverage operators has increased by 50 per cent.

“Obviously, a mix of leading retailers will always be important and our pro-active asset management approach, which clusters together businesses that feed off each other, creating clearly defined districts, has proven popular with retailers and customers alike,” Dunnett said.

“In the last 12 months alone, more than new 20 brands have opened in Liverpool ONE, many making their regional debut.  Brands now include Harvey Nichols’ Beauty Bazaar, where customers can get their hair, nails and makeup done before a night out, Michael Kors, Hugo Boss and Reiss.”

Another growing trend is for retailers to be aligned with owners, as they work all possible channels as one. “We see this in practice in Liverpool as retailers pull the fulfilment of online purchases back into their physical stores,” he says.

“Operationally, this offers clear economic benefits, but the retailer is also back in control of the consumer experience and, perhaps most importantly, creates the opportunity for staff to ‘upsell’. Several of our operators contend that for every one-pound collected at a click-and-collect counter, the customer spends another pound in the store on the same visit —  and we see this continuing to grow.

“For owners, the same principle applies: bringing shoppers into your scheme by embracing click-and-collect can lead to upselling in the adjacent coffee shop, visiting accessory retailers to complete the look, or simply increasing turnover in the car park.”

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