Experts unveil the future of retail

Robots, shopper experience and creating customer focused precincts dominated discussion at the Property Council’s annual WA Retail Conference, held on the first Friday in March. Despite recent talk of retail decline and a growing list of retailers going into administration, by staying ahead of the curve and providing experiences that customers don’t realise they need, conference attendees heard there is light at the end of the tunnel in the retail space.

JLL’s Manager, WA Research Ronak Bhimjiani opened the morning session looking at the current economic conditions facing Australia and the world. While the impact of Covid-19 has increased in risk and magnitude, attendees heard that the WA retail market is relatively sheltered from the impact of an expected decrease in Chinese visitors compared to interstate markets.

Luca Stamatescu from Telstra brought Cruzr along for a demonstration, a humanoid robot that harnesses artificial intelligence to improve a customer’s experience by connecting their needs with the right type of service efficiently and with a smile. Interstate guests included Chadstone Centre Manager Michael Whitehead and Marco Ettore from AMP Capital, showcasing a range of innovative and game changing retail projects over East and overseas.

Christine Miller, Head of Supply Chain Advisory – Asia-Pacific at CBRE joined her colleague Amanda Steele to look at retail placemaking around the world and the changing nature of retail supply chains in responding to the growing e-commerce sector.

Locally, Shannon Davies from Stork Davies Legal provided an update on recent cases involving the Retail Tenancies Act, with the City of Perth’s Economic Development Principal John Fish taking conference attendees through the changing face of Perth’s CBD landscape.

Lease Equity Managing Director Jim Tsagalis, conference sponsor and Property Council WA Retail Partner, focused on the recent success of smaller, neighbourhood retail developments in the Perth suburban market.

Chris Smoje returned to the retail conference in 2020, building on his ever popular presentation last year to challenge businesses to rethink the way they deliver customer service. Elle Pound at The Brand Agency also introduced the concept of S-Ex to conference attendees by demonstrating the ever changing retail experience is evolving and how planning a party is a surprising useful guide in keeping customers in mind.

The Property Council thanks its speakers and particularly Lease Equity for their ongoing support of the retail conference and the retail sector in WA.