Here’s an great upcoming opportunity for anyone who is creative and wants to be at the forefront when the timing is right: What to do with all those huge shopping malls that within a decade will remain empty and outdated.
Taking into account that these enormous volumes are still being built all over the world underlines the need of creative solutions.
If you don’t believe me, here’s why you should.
I already outlined how a number of industries will be hit by digital revolution in the same way the music industry was. Media, education, healthcare, transportation, law and finance/trading are all undergoing a fundamental change as the content is being digitized and possible to handle in completely new ways, opening up series of radically new business models.
Retail is another area which is being hit by the same development.
Online commerce is already taking over a substantial part of retail in physical stores. With the progress of virtual showrooms and fitting rooms, and of virtual reality with augmented possibilities for sensing structures and materials, this development will accelerate.
Another part of retail will be taken over by the growth of 3d-printer technology, making it possible to produce single items at an progressively increasing quality and resolution at home.
As we will spend more and more time in virtual environments — or in the metaverse — our interest in buying physical items will get competition from our interest in buying virtual items in various virtual worlds. The reason is simple: Exactly in the same way that you want to make a good impression in the physical world, you will want to do it in the virtual world, be it clothes, objects, real estate, interior design or other products.
Spending real money for virtual items might seem absurd to many people, but keep in mind that the cost of manufacturing and the physical material in products such as clothes is already reduced to a minimum of the total cost today. What we pay for is design, brands, packaging, storage, retail space and distribution, and of these we give most value to design and brands.
Eliminating manufacturing and the physical material is in the end a minor change, when you think about it, and we will still be inclined to pay for the value of design and brands (I don’t discuss here whether this is sound or not, I just believe this is the way we will behave).
Putting all this together, the future of physical retail in shopping malls look quite bad. Non existent, to be honest.
So — start dreaming!
What would you like to suggest as a new way of using the enormous empty spaces of dead shopping malls?
A kind of modern castles with huge halls and rooms for spacious urban living — all heated by sustainable solar power?
Urban farming, zero kilometer, ecological and highly automated, possibly vertical if the shopping mall was a sky scraper?
Hangars for fleets of autonomous aerial vehicles for urban transportation?
Don’t wait to start inventing! These ideas might be worth investigating sooner than you think!