RETAIL WATCH: Mapic goes omnichannel

Doing it online may be fun, but there’s nothing as rewarding as a face-to-face experience. For this reason, Nathalie Depetro, director of Mapic, can’t wait to take Europe’s biggest retail-focused exhibition back to Cannes again.

‘We got a taste of what meeting again was like at Mapic Italy in September, which was very worthwhile,’ Depetro says. ‘But it’s great to be back in Cannes and this time, the badge really gives you access to three shows.’

With the Palais des Festivals in Cannes gearing up to host Mapic once again from 30 November to 2 December, show organisers have planned to incorporate three events simultaneously, with parallel exhibitions, LeisurUp and The Happetite, spotlighting leisure and F&B themes respectively.

‘Around 50% of the exhibition area will be dedicated to LeisurUp and The Happetite,’ Depetro notes. ‘While we’ve been talking about these ideas for some time, it’s now a priority for retail destinations to include both leisure and food. Research shows that by 2025, around 50% of shopping centres will be mixed-use, so as usual, we’re reflecting the industry’s key themes and objectives.’

Being back in Cannes also gives delegates a chance to network again – reflecting another key topic for the retail real estate industry. ‘Retail destinations are all about human interaction,’ Depetro underlines. ‘People not only want to shop – they want to spend good times together, go to the movie theatre, eat, see an art exhibition. The pandemic intensified the need to do things together and made the social aspect even more meaningful. You want to do physically what you cannot do digitally – and that’s what Mapic also represents.’

Yet in line with the industry’s evolution, this year’s Mapic is once again deeply in touch with the digital age. ‘This year Mapic is truly an omnichannel event,’ notes Depetro. ‘The entrance badge also gives you access to Mapic Digital. All the conferences will be live on the platform, and we’re reflecting this by transforming Riviera 7 into a kind of TV studio space. There, you’ll be able to watch key interviews and panels – either live in Cannes, or from anywhere in the world.’

The mixed-use agenda
While Depetro concedes that the Mapic of old ‘used to be very focused on retail real estate’, she underlines that the industry’s increasing shift towards integrating a range of uses fits well with the goals of the cities of the future.

‘Mapic today is about bringing industry players together to meet the new stakeholders, ranging from leisure operators and food retailers to city leaders. Cities today want to be mixed-use: the presence of metropolises like Brussels at the event will underline this – they are aiming to wrap together retail, co-working, leisure, residential and more. Transversal urban development is the future, and we have a key session reflecting this topic. Innovation will also be at the centre of discussions.

'We doubled the size of the Mapic innovation forum because a lot of players are discovering that they need a lot of data to understand how to create the right balance in mixed-use formats.

‘On the tech theme – we’re going to have a fully equipped store of tomorrow on site, operated by Etam fashion group. They will showcase first-hand what kind of technology shops can carry to really engage the customer and also improve the efficiency of operations. Surprisingly, we’ve never really had a complete shop like that at Mapic, but it will be a very hands-on, immersive experience.’

Hungry for success
F&B has become a central pillar of most retail real estate strategies, and this year, Mapic will celebrate that with the return of a food-forum at the event.

‘We held the Happetite in Milan for a couple of years,’ notes Depetro. ‘But as food and leisure are now such integral parts of the retail world, right across the globe, it made sense to bring both the Happetite and LeisurUp back to Cannes, in tandem with Mapic. They all work together: if you have leisure, you also need food.’

Unsurprisingly, interest is high for Mapic’s return. ‘We have delegates and firms from more than 42 countries registered for Mapic at this stage and it’s looking very, very, international,’ Depetro underlines. ‘We also have, for the first time, a number of digital native brands that will exhibit.

'Many of these retailers are looking for different ways to expand, from showrooms to pop-ups and digital stores. For the first time, the CEO of Showfields will also attend Mapic. This revolutionary retail concept is a successful mash-up between e-commerce and physical retail, with revolving, curated brands in a deeply engaging bricks-and-mortar format.’

Still relevant
With so much communication now moving online, it is easy to question whether events like Mapic are still relevant for the industry. For Depetro, the answer is a resounding yes. ‘This is the place where you are going to discuss retail’s evolution and capture the novelties of the industry,’ she says.

‘As Mapic is so international, it has a tremendous scope to inspire. We have been given the possibility to restart this business after a long period off, and with all the ingredients that we’ve crammed inside Mapic, we have the chance to really open the eyes of the industry players that need to reinvent themselves. We are expecting around 600 retailers to be in attendance. Big and small firms will be there, including traditional real estate companies, plus the digital leaders of tomorrow. It’s a compelling mix!’