Meadowhall’s launch of a CollectPlus pick up service is another example of how landlords are embracing the world of online and multichannel retail

Sheffield shopping centre Meadowhall revealed a partnership with fulfilment business CollectPlus today which will allow its shoppers to drop off and pick up parcels, using PayPoint technology to track deliveries and postage.

The move makes the British Land-owned development the latest shopping centre to incorporate an element of multi-channel fulfilment within its walls. Hammerson was the first developer to install a House of Fraser click-and-collect only store at its Aberdeen’s Union Square centre, quickly followed by the Grosvenor-owned Liverpool One development. Both deals are examples of landlords’ increasing willingness to embrace the world of multichannel.

In an innovative move, Land Securities provided the UK debut for an Amazon collection point at its One New Change shopping centre in the City last year, as revealed by Retail Week.

Land Securities is also providing free Wi-Fi access at its 22 shopping locations around the UK via a partnership with provider The Cloud in a move previously regarded as taboo among landlords. Shopping centre owners have felt uneasy about enabling easy price comparisons in-store and so-called ‘showrooming’, whereby customers check out products in the store and buy on their tablet at a cheaper pure play rival.

So why the change of heart? The main drivers appear to be the shift in technology, with Brits becoming ever more comfortable using mobiles to access the internet.

A host of deal- and loyalty-based apps and location-oriented services are being launched and enabling customers to access these for free within a shopping environment is starting to make commercial sense to some landlords. Consumer expectation levels are also leaning towards anticipating free Wi-Fi in such environments.

The moves into multichannel by landlords are also being driven by a cultural shift in how consumers perceive convenience in terms of collection.

Click and collect has gained rapid traction as a more convenient pick-up method than home delivery and with many offices unwilling to accept personal deliveries a local shopping centre makes a convenient substitute, and the centres themselves gain from the boost in footfall.

The Meadowhall deal lends further weight to the idea that landlords are not only cottoning on to the world of multichannel, but are indeed attempting to innovate in the area.