Retail Revolution 2019: How retail is transforming

Perth has great bones and fantastic infrastructure, but people give a city its heart and soul, Lendlease WA External Affairs manager and Activate Perth champion Rachael Cochrane told Property Council WA's Retail Revolution conference.

Ms Cochrane, the first of 12 dynamic speakers, spoke about how activated areas attract tenants and customers.

Mark Atkinson, Atkinson Legal Director, said Community Titles, which became law in November,  will have a significant impact  on the property industry, with minority owners no longer able to block projects or changes favoured by a majority and electronic meetings now possible.

FJM property development director Kyle Jeavons talked about the complexities of activating heritage buildings and the excitement of being able to open up these places up to the general public.

"Creating good places is imperative to what we do," Mr Jeavons said. "Most people assume historic buildings are architectural marvels. They are not. Old buildings have to be contemporised in some way."

Lavan Partner Peter Beekink shed some light on exactly what is what in the event of a retail insolvency. "Landlords are rarely secured creditors," Mr Beekink said. "In the priority of debts, there's a queue ahead of you."

Energy-Tec Managing Director Damien Moran  outlined some of the pros and cons around embedded networks and landlords selling energy to their tenants. Battery storage systems "behind the meter"  were a game-changer he said, adding that Electric Vehicle charging stations present an opportunity for retailers to capitalise on people's "dwell time" as they wait for their cars to be re-charged.

In a highly engaging and energetic presentation, Dime Customer Service Founder Chris Smoje emphasised that retailers did not need to be extreme to offer exceptional customer service. Sometimes, he said, it makes a bigger difference for customers if  retailers are able to consistently reduce their negative expectations.

Urbis Director Sue Say said WA consumer sentiment has been slowly improving over the past two years, borne out in part by the "extraordinary" growth in food and beverage. A strong tourism sector  benefited all retail operators, not just those based in the city or super regional centres, she said.

City of Perth Economic Development Principal John Fish urged  everyone to engage in the Think Perth campaign to create compelling reasons to draw people into the city. Smaller interventions could make a big difference, he said. That included  working with the local community to  encourage them to say, "Yes at my front door", to activation ideas.

With the aid of stunning visual samples from around the world, Lease Equity managing director Jim Tsagalis, who said Perth and WA were global leaders in the retail display and theatre,  tipped take home meals would become the biggest growth line in supermarkets with commodities sold mostly online.  Australians'  supermarket love affair was undiminished by the arrival of  Aldi, which had actually resulted in increased sales in a neighbouring Woolworths supermarket, he said.

Bunbury Farmers Market Founder Kevin Opferkuch spoke about the evolution of his South West fresh food drawcard and the five-year planning battle to get it established on its current site.  The Bunbury Farmers Market, the biggest fresh food retailer in Australia and billed as one of WA's outstanding fresh food suppliers,  showcases local growers and producers, employs 400 people and invests in training butchers and bakers.

Bang Digital managing director Renae Lunjevich talked about the importance of using social media to engage, with people keen for authentic stories.

JLL WA State Manager Ryan Darcy gave a demonstration of the powerful capabilites of 3D visualisation to helps landlords and tenants navigate a virtual store environment.

AnySpaces Head of Communications Kim Rammesmayer talked up the pop-up sector and how technology is transforming and reinventing how customers engage with pop-up spaces.

Property Council WA Executive Director Sandra Brewer said the success of the retail sector was critically important to the WA economy.

"This conference brought together a dynamic group of industry leaders who were nothing short of inspirational," Ms Brewer said. "This Property Council WA annual Retail Revolution has set the bar high. It is now firmly established as a must-not-miss event for the sector."