A speaker in Business Review’s recent re:FOCUS on eCommerce, Retail & Logistics 2022, Geanina Ungureanu, Senior Asset and Leasing Manager Retail at IMMOFINANZ, talked about the future of retail developments, but also about the latest trends that have emerged during the past year, such as the increased appetite for online displayed by most retailers.
By Mihai Cristea & Deniza Cristian
While online shops are looking to expand their offering, introducing new products lines like Home & Deco and financial solutions like ”buy now, pay later,” supermarkets are receiving more orders for everyday products, which means they must ensure that they have the capacity to cover these new orders.
“Every retailer now has at least some online activity, but they still need a physical space to present their products. Retail parks have proven to be a safe bet for developers.” Was the main takeaway of Geanina Ungureanu, Senior Asset & Leasing Retail Manager at IMMOFINANZ.
But since the only constant on the market is change, companies must learn to be flexible, if they haven’t already. Omnichannel marketing means a close relationship between retail shops and logistics-delivery players. Today, online shopping is at 9 percent of total shopping, whereas it accounted for only 5-6 percent in 2019, but there’s still a lot of growth ahead, especially since Romania is now on the regional hub map alongside the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland.
Omnichannel means that retailers must be everywhere the customer is: online, in malls, in shopping centres, etc. And all these changes are forcing offline shops to become more modern and provide more ways of communication with their customers.
Regarding the return to a normal life, as we were used to before the pandemic, including in regards to our former shopping habits, IMMOFINANZ’s Senior Asset and Leasing Manager stated:
“IMMOFINANZ is a company with a tradition in Romania’s investments for more than 18 years, in the office and retail sectors, and we believe that we’ll get over this situation and things will go back to normal, but not the way it used to be, but through this adaptation process, not only us, but almost every industry. I think that this experience was good for each of us, because it made us better and we learned to prioritize all the areas of our lives, and even retail is transforming and continues to refine its performances.”
Industry trends point to two concepts being on the rise: retail parks and regional malls. These represent mixed-projects in the real estate industry, and they are designed to give customers everything they want. They are places where families can shop, but also enjoy some entertainment, and at the same time they need to be close to home or work.
Concerning the future and IMMOFINANZ’s direction in terms of strategy, Geanina Ungureanu accentuated that the future everyone is talking about is actually unfolding right now.
“Everything is thought step by step nowadays, we can no longer think and plan for the years ahead. But what proved to be a smart business and a relevant property in the current conditions, is the retail park concept, and we, at IMMOFINANZ, as promoters who have many retail parks rented in the CEE region, have observed that they are a secure recipe for investors, and for developers as well. This is the direction on which IMMOFINANZ focuses now, in addition to other innovative solutions which complement our malls and the mixed-use developments. We are focusing on retail parks, trying to make them mixed-use, meaning residential, commercial, lifestyle, wellness, etc. Of course, even thoug online has grown so fast in the past two years, we should not forget about offline, because, ultimately, what matters is the experience, the emotions, the sensorial and the human experience, which derives to customer service.”