The need for insight driven centre management

Published:  29 June, 2017

Michelle Buxton, group managing director at Toolbox Group, discusses the importance of data 

We now live in a data-driven society where the abundance of intelligence drives much of what we do. Retailers have been forced to be clever with data collection, analysis, segmentation and targeting with the growth of touchpoints and channels over the last decade.  Data is fast becoming a brand’s most valuable asset, and data architecture is now a core activity and source of competitive advantage. 

However it is still surprising that the potential for shopping centres to use insight that is, and could be, available to them is rarely realised to their full potential.  Basic sources of data such as footfall, sales and customer records are only a fraction of insight that is available right under the noses of centre management.  Retailers are increasingly turning to big data and in-store analytics to get a better understanding of what is happening inside stores. So why are shopping centres still miles behind and how that can be changed? 

One of the main issues is having the right systems to collect and manage intelligence. There is often still the view that data management is resource heavy and overly complex but that is no longer the case.  There are powerful ways to integrate the various sources of data, and systems, into powerful platforms. 

For example our product Mallcomm integrates with footfall systems, car parking systems, it links with retailer staff at all levels, marketing, and operational teams such as security, maintenance and cleaning, so that a centre manager has an instant snapshot of what’s going on in his/her centre at any one time.  The data generated then allows him to understand how efficient his business is, and realise potential for improving customer experience, efficiencies and marketing effort. 

However, the biggest opportunity shopping centres have right now is to work much more closely in partnership with retailers.  Imagine what you could do with the data retailers have, and what they could do with your insights and access to customers. 

Mallcomm allows you to share much more than just sales and footfall analytics, so we’re starting to work more and more with retailers to capitalise on available channels and content.

A number of our clients allow their retailers to publish job vacancies and customer promotions, via an approval process, straight onto the centre’s customer facing websites and social channels.

We also recently launched a dedicated club for students called The Loft, at West Orchards Shopping Centre in Coventry. The centre used the Mallcomm platform to register students into a VIP student club where they can receive student offers in real time and get the latest information, events and content straight to their mobile devices. In the first few weeks, the centre received over 500 students sign-ups, each receiving a code to access the physical Loft area in the centre, driving repeat visits and loyalty. 

The centre/store relationship is a unique one. Retailers know everything about shoppers when they’re in their stores, but as soon as they leave and enter them mall, they don’t.  Likewise shopping centres know what shoppers are doing in their malls, but not in stores.  Yet we’re all under one roof! 

Connecting retailers and shopping centres through Mallcomm has really given us an insight into the potential for data sharing.  Whilst we’ve gone some way to do that, we still have a long way to go, but we are definitely seeing the benefit from linking retailers and centre teams.  There are now 250,000 Mallcomm users, and we’re seeing an average of 90% retailer engagement, so access to audiences and shared insight is making an impact on not only marketing but the way these centres are run.   

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