We tend to take for granted that the leasing of space is the one constant in our business, our one set of assumptions that are safe from change. Change seems to encroach but not actually threaten — traditional commercial real estate models have opened up to flexible and temporary arrangements such as pop-up stores, but this is still a development concerning the leasing of physical space. Can technology possibly remove even that baseline retail requirement?
The answer is yes.
The rise of mobile technology in point of sale support – systems such as The Square that turn any smart phone into full POS systems taking credit cards – has enabled retail business to take place whenever and wherever social media can get the word out.
The ramifications for retail can be huge, and need to be tallied up. First, the equation of finding and valuing retail space – even as a flexible or temporary sublet – now has to accommodate the options of foregoing rooftop cover altogether. What was inconceivable just months ago is now a viable option for a prospective tenant.
Leases, too, need to catch up with this new reality – exclusives or other clauses relating to a tenant’s business or hours have not been written with today’s market in mind and need a review.
Finding ways to ride technological waves to profitability is our industry’s eternal challenge. Adding value to space, to research, to branding and to prospects only deserves more stress as the days pass and the old models fade.