Making legacy systems work harder for the Centre & Customer alike
Earlier this year I came across a website, going by the name of; deadmalls.com. Curiosity got the better of me, so I investigated further, I was strangely drawn to these failed, but once anchor points of now collapsed communities, and how they had fallen into disrepair or pulled down completely to make way for yet more office blocks.
What caused the demise of these great buildings?
Perhaps changing demographics, the rise of online shopping or simply consolidation; either way I have my doubts that it was down to the lack of shiny décor or poor location. After all these temples of shopping are often the heart of the community, and in some parts, are the community however it changes. Either way people stopped coming.
I fully understand the duty of the centre is to provide a profit for its owners and investors, but primarily it should be there for the shopper, after all it is the shopper that makes the centre a success or failure and ultimately show a profit or loss. To this end the experience for the visitor has to be a good one, after all retuning, loyal customers is what drives sales, keeps tenants happy and ultimately the wolves from the door.
How do we understand what the customer wants, what keeps them coming back?
Technology seems to be a good place to start, cry’s the salesman, and to some extent he’s right. But what about sweating some of the infrastructure already in place at many centres.
Most centres have some sort of footfall collection, whether it be simple IR beams that will supply a trended data or a fantastic all singing, overpriced, over specified fully multi zoned customer traffic flow solution. Either way, in my experiences the data is all too often, collected and reported, but rarely acted upon. With a little understanding of the count data and its significance; marketing, operations and in mall experience bods can benefit the centre immensely; apart from generating additional, much needed revenue in the form of activities and sponsorship.
Wi-Fi has in recent years become the technology of choice to install, let’s face it, all of our customers need to feel connected to the online world, even if there shopping in the real world. So why not use this connected data to understand where the customer goes (pathway mapping), dwell points within the mall, hot and cold areas, revisits (if the visitor is a new or loyal follower). The list goes on; but again, we see only the truly data hungry, taking advantage and prospering from it. Just understanding what marketing activity drives new visitors, and what activity turns a new visitor into a loyal one is invaluable.
An old colleague of mine once said, that if he could get Kylie Minogue to sit semi naked in the centre of the mall, he would increase his footfall dramatically. My thoughts are, would they come back when she left; more importantly how would I know. These are all passively gained insights, add this together with the numerous insights available when customers log into the centre wi-fi, and all gets very exciting.
Sweating the current assets in most cases are the better way forward, and often show the fastest returns in the shortest of time.