Spurred by Tech, Yorkdale Shopping Centre Adapts to Shifting Retail Landscape

Retail in Canada is changing and Yorkdale isn’t about to be left behind. This holiday season, Yorkdale Shopping Centre is introducing several new business trends that cater to today’s shopaholic.

These initiatives include several aspects, one of which allows emerging brands to sell alongside Yorkdale’s established variety of retail outlets.

The brands taking advantage of this include BRIKA, Nutra-Fruit Cranberry, the Drake General Store and Kit and Ace, all of which have been chosen for their unique approach to Canadian retail.

Yorkdale General Manager Claire Santamaria is excited about heralding this project and hopes to demonstrate Yorkdale’s adaptability to its loyal customers.

“Yorkdale has had a history of bringing in the next wave of retail,” she explains. “Customers expect that we will have what’s next.”

Yorkdale’s management team has set aside some retail space in the mall for these currently non-traditional brands to break into primary sales areas.

Some of the brands being demonstrated have a large online presence and others have introduced proprietary products that caters to emerging retail trends. For example, Kit and Ace is bringing “Technical Cashmere” to the general market. This team uses technical attributes and luxury fibres to enhance the comfort and functionality of their products.

“Pop-ups aren’t a new idea,” explains Santamaria. “However, we know that this area of retail needs to move into the online space.”

Yorkdale is also introducing a Messaging Concierge. This new feature allows customers to text questions or comments to a general number and receive a personalized response from Yorkdale customer service staff. Santamaria explains that a main objective of this feature is to allow customers to start planning their shopping trips before they even leave their homes.

She goes on to say that the introduction of the Kipsu Messaging Concierge aligns with the non-traditional avenues being explored by retail professionals and represent how the mall is adapting to the digital age. 

“The retail landscape is dynamic. This year we’ve seen a lot of changes in the retail landscape. Our customers exist in different places,” she says.

She explains that the management team at Yorkdale often receives complaints regarding parking availability and questions and about which styles are available at Yorkdale’s regional outlets. She hopes that the messaging concierge will help customers navigate these problems more efficiently.

Both the Messaging concierge and pop up shopping destinations are all part of trying to be where the consumer is, says Santamaria. These emerging outlets require a more physical presence while Yorkdale now needs to develop its online presence.

“We know we get more visits to our website through mobile and online. So, we’ve really taken the opportunity to make sure the content offline and online is curated to what our customers want.”

Despite the boom in online retail, however, Santamaria doesn’t see an end to physical shopping centres anytime soon. She admits that this is primarily due to many shoppers’ discomfort in buying something that they’ve haven’t inspected or tried on themselves.

She acknowledges however, that Yorkdale needs to flexible to the quickly changing retail landscape if they’re to remain a leader in their sector.

“We need to operate in real time. We have a digital specialist now and we’ve never had that before,” said Santamaria.

“We’re evolving, we’re changing, we’re leaders.”