Innovative shopping malls have realized that engaging customers is the key to attracting and retaining high-quality tenants.
Today’s consumers have an overwhelming variety of places to choose from when shopping; however, shoppers are always more likely to frequent shopping malls where they feel a connection to.
Years ago, when most stores were smaller and family-owned, personal connection occurred naturally as part of doing business in the same area where one lived.
Nowadays the predominance of big-box centers and superstores have eliminated the chance for store owners and employees to create meaningful relationships with customers. Instead, mall owners should use other strategies which allow them to create deeper bonds with prospects.
Technology Can Offer Consumers Personalized Experiences In Shopping Malls
Social media is the obvious place to start when attempting to engage consumers.
Most mall owners, however, make the mistake of using social media as a one-way platform, with the consumer on the receiving end. Successful companies have learned that rather than using social media as a way of notifying fans of sales or damage control, it can be used to encourage consumers to initiate meaningful conversations.
Shopping malls do this by soliciting ideas from consumers on ideas for new stores. Other shopping malls use different Facebook pages to communicate with specific interest groups or geographies. Both of these offer ways for consumers to interact in ways that are both more personal and feel more relevant.
Investors can take this even further by taking advantage of consumers’ desire for personalization. 75% of customers like it when brands personalize products and offers. Brick and mortar stores have the obvious advantage of offering personalized services.
Instead of sending consumers messages about status updates and low-value discounts, consumers should first receive content that is not only valuable but personalized according to their needs and preferences. Mall loyalty programs are an example where technology can be used to collect personalized data about each member and send relevant offers in real-time.
Some mall owners, for example, use in-store apps that offer discounts based on previous purchases when members are in or close to the mall. These owners are taking advantage of what marketers call “web-rooming.” It is the practice of researching a product online before entering a brick and mortar store to buy the product.
This is the opposite of “showrooming,” which occurs when consumers visit a store to see, touch, and try out a product before buying it online at a lower price. And while showrooming is a big concern for retailers, statistics show that 69% of customers engage in web-rooming as compared to 46% showrooming.
How Can You Use Web-rooming
There are several things tenants can do to take advantage of web-rooming:
- Make sure the mall has a quality website that is fully responsive.
- Redeem the online coupons in the store.
- Make it easy for shoppers to order online and pick up their product at the store.
- Allow shoppers to buy products online and try them on in the store.
- Keep your product database up to date. When consumers enter your store, they should know the product.
- Ensure product descriptions are accurate. Provide high-quality product pictures that can be viewable from more than one angle. Also, show items in different colors or styles (when applicable).
- Have staff carry mobile devices that allow them to check instantly on product availability, product features, online deals, or answer questions. This makes for a much better customer experience than waiting for the salesperson to go back to the counter. There, they are likely to get high-jacked by other customers.
- For apparel stores, getting customers to try on a garment increases conversions by 67%.
For the mall itself, there are several ways to encourage consumers visits. Shoppers can use their smartphone to scan in receipts, in exchange for points.
Redeem the points for free parking, discount vouchers, concert tickets, or special mall events such as fashion shows or celebrity appearances. Face recognition technology or location-based marketing is an excellent way for mall owners to identify and reward repeat shoppers.
Rethink The Tenant Mix
While anchor stores are important. However, more and more mall owners are discovering that a curated mix of smaller stores provides a sense of novelty. Many standard malls lack that novelty. The addition of pop-up stores, kiosks, and showroom spaces add curiosity and encourage shoppers to visit frequently in order to uncover new treasures.
Design Malls As An Integral Part Of The Community
Traditionally malls have been huge behemoths on the outskirts of the community.
However, with the trend towards urbanization and the failure of many super malls, developers are beginning to focus on how to help malls be seen as an integral part of the community. Do this by using open air malls that blur the line between indoors and outdoors.
Another possibility involves making sure the mall is as environmentally sustainable as possible. You can do this by:
- using green features,
- incorporating natural design elements in the mall, and
- using an integrated landscape to create a different experience.
Mixed-use malls are also popular now and should continue to grow in popularity.
These spaces can have a mix of anything from 70/30 to 50/50 but plan them carefully in order to ensure all members of the community work well together.
If you want to learn more, please do not hesitate to contact Westwood Net Lease Advisors through our online application form.
Tags: commercial real estate, commercial real estate investing, quality tenants, retail properties, shopping malls, showrooming, social media, webrooming