Thoughts on attending International Shopping Center Convention 2018

Public/Private Partnership (P/3) session, from left:  panelists Jeff Schwob, City of Fremont; Tanner Laverty, Laverty Chacon CRE; and Jason Little, Sutter Health. Moderators Alison Warner, Regency Centers and Christina Briggs, City of Fremont.

Last week, a group of OED staff attended this year’s International Shopping Center Convention in the newly opened Monterey Conference Center. With more than 1000 attendees, the event was an interesting networking challenge, giving us random access to brokers, developers, retail chain reps and economic development colleagues from other regional cities.

We are still processing the event, but here are some random take-aways, in no particular order:

  • Technology has made buying online ridiculously easy — but you can’t really shop.. yet.
  • Traditional retail tenants are still out there, but they are changing – putting more emphasis on customer experience and integrating online options.
  • Dutch Brothers still hasn’t brought its brand to the South Bay.
  • Health and wellness tenants are moving into shopping centers and can require some special TLC from both cities and shopping-center landlords, an issue explored by ICSC’s P3 committee led by Christina Briggs of the city of Fremont.
  • Even fast food needs to pay attention to store appearance and quality ingredients.
  • If you make your presentation while dressed like a frosty iced coffee, you will win the coveted Brass Boot Retailer Award. Well done, Dunkin Donuts!
  • We had no idea of the challenges for property owners and municipalities being presented by augmented reality (AR). Ads and other content shows up whenever a smart phone user points his/her camera at a building… and the ad might be paid for by a tenant in the building
  • People want the cheapest possible haircut, so long as the adjacencies are right. Except for when they want that particular stylist, and then they will follow him/her to any location, no matter where, how far, or how grim.
  • Geofencing is intriguing, and reminds us of the deluge of data provided by scanners at supermarket checkouts. The solution seems to be to hire an expert to analyse it for you, just like the supermarket chains did.
  • Voice is more disruptive to technology applications than was the transition from desktop to mobile.
  • A growing number of tech companies are finding innovative toe-holds in bricks and mortar – like Happy Returns  and DarkStore
  • Online retailers that also have physical locations outperform pure online retailers by 2 – 6X.
  • Discounters like Dollar Store, 5Below and Grocery Outlet are growing like crazy, and are less exposed to challenges from online sales.
  • You can build a decent conference center without using city dollars.

All of this was very instructive as we continue to advocate for a greater retail presence in San Jose.