Keep Them Shopping! Anticipating User Behavior in Shopping Malls 

My beloved faux-leather jacket was getting tired. The edges were getting scuffed, the liner torn. So after a recent drive to Düsseldorf, we stopped by CentrO Mall, one of the largest malls in Germany, for some quick clothes shopping. Translation: Kat tries on a million jackets, patient boyfriend buys a handful of t-shirts.

Weird necks, huge lapels, mono boob, I saw it all. The world was my unflattering oyster.

While I did leave the mall that day with a couple good finds​, I did not find a suitable jacket replacement. Also, this article is not about my relationship with jackets. Check out the mirror in that first picture up there. Now look closer.

Is that not deviously clever? What a tricky way to advertise. Based on their customers’ known behavior of taking mirror selfies when trying on clothes, the marketers at Orsay stuck advertisements right onto the mirror. Now whenever someone sends a mirror selfie they’re promoting the brand free of charge! 

Here’s the other way I noticed a store anticipating shopper behavior, catering to the needs of the modern, tech-ubiquitous world:

In response to the short battery life of a device in constant use, C&A offers charging lockers for your phone. Ones that actually work! Make your way to the depths of the store and there you can connect your phone to one of the many charging cables offered. Deposit your euro, lock your cubby, and you’re free to shop while your phone charges safely nearby. The convenience this offers is a clever way to both improve your customers’ shopping experience and potentially attract more people to the store than were planning on stopping at C&A that day. Mind blown.

Other goodies seen throughout the mall include free open WiFi, ten foot tall music videos in the food court, and a couch near the bathrooms with built in(!) charging outlets. These may seem like insignificant details, but they’re tactics consciously employed to keep shoppers happier, and staying longer, and spending more at the mall. In recognizing and designing for the technological priorities of the current generation of shoppers, these shopping centers are building a user experience that both caters to and takes advantage of their customers.

An interesting side note to my shopping experience: after returning home, I took another look at the jacket that I had sought to replace with all the millions of ill-fitting, expensive, not-quite-right ones at the mall. Slipping once more into its cool, comforting sleeves and zipping it up to my neck, I admitted that the scuffs weren’t really noticeable unless you were looking for them, and I still loved how the fabric hugged my curves in all the right places. I spent the next hour clumsily sewing the lining back together, and finally hung my not-brand-new-but-totally-right jacket back on its hook by the door.

At the end of a long day of shopping​ it’s comforting to know that I still have a chewy, nougaty minimalist center.

So what do you think about the way malls are anticipating shopper behavior and designing around it? Convenient and accommodating? Or does it feel more sinister than that? 

Do you have​ an irreplaceable piece of clothing that needs a little TLC? Or do you find it easy to move on to the next best thing?

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