City council examines new retail approach

Written by Muleskinner Staff

By ANNA JONES
(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) – The future of Warrensburg’s shopping district was under review at this week’s city council meeting, with a presentation regarding recent developments in technology-enhanced shopping.
City Manager Paula Hertwig Hopkins recently attended the two-day ICSC Heartland States Idea Exchange & Alliance Program in Kansas City beginning on Jan., 31, where Colliers International delivered a presentation on the future of shopping. The presentation outlined a future in shopping where customization, driven by data, will allow retail stores to adapt and utilize newer technologies to gain consumers.
Hopkins hopes bringing this information to the council’s attention will promote further development in Warrensburg’s retail scene.
“My goal when I go to some of these conferences is to bring back information that is particularly important, so that we can keep moving ahead in our retail endeavors here in Warrensburg,” Hopkins said.
Hopkins referenced recent trends that show an increased use of online shopping and adaptation of smartphone apps for consumers. She said that in light of these trends, fewer people see shopping as a physical destination.
“Shoppers want to get in, then they want to get out,” Hopkins said.
With the continuing invention of new smartphone apps, the tech savvy shopper can now check parking availability at the mall, available restaurant deals, and compare the prices of certain products across stores.
In terms of bringing this idea of future shopping to the local area, Hopkins said that it is important to keep in mind the needs of the large student population in Warrensburg.
The University of Central Missouri’s 12,000 students provide an opportunity for local retailers to integrate technology, specifically mobile devices, fulfilling the expectations of UCM students.
“If we are continuing to take a look at retail, who our shoppers are, what their expectations are, we have to keep in mind the University,” Hopkins said.
Council members agreed it was an important move in the right direction, given the current retail climate and understanding how consumers work. Recent articles show that consumers, now more than ever, want a convenient and easily accessible shopping experience.
Chairman Pro-Tem Charlie Rutt emphasized that providing consumers the ability to choose the best product conveniently is very important.
“If they don’t provide price comparison, there is a belief that it could be cheaper over here,” Rutt said. “First thing is about price, second thing is about choice.”