What value are ‘the usual’ shopping centre apps really providing?

March 19, 2018 | Gerry Mezzina

What value are ‘the usual’ shopping centre apps really providing?

I pose this question with three groups to consider – retailers, customers, and the centre itself.

I’ve downloaded so many shopping centre apps to understand the landscape and to me, it seems none of them add much value to anyone. Here’s what I’ve found:

  1. They’re a centre website posing as an app (and often web-based). What I can find online is exactly the same content in the app. So why would I waste my precious phone real estate on a download? The effect if I do download is to promptly delete.
  2. They focus only on a retailer directory and/or way-finding. These are good for the customer experience, but again readily available on most centre websites and on centre directories. If I’m new to the centre or shopping with a purpose, again chances are I’ve done my research prior and have a rough idea where to go. Has your app earned the right to take space on my phone? Unlikely.
  3. They don’t capture user data. No login, no attempt to find out who this customer is. This is likely because the value the app adds is so low this barrier would kill anyone considering a download.

It’s no wonder a first reaction to a shopping centre app is often, “we had an app and it didn’t work, so we’re not considering an app right now”.

It’s not that customers don’t want centre apps,
they just don’t want apps that don’t offer any value.


Adding value is critical for your customers, your retailers and your centre. All three have differing needs, and yet all must be addressed to succeed.

 

For your stores or retailers

More than ever they’re looking at what value a shopping centre adds, how it can assist promote them, and always with a view to justify their presence (and marketing levy) in a shopping centre. Does/did your app promote specific retailer content directly to your customers? Could the results be easily tracked and shared with your retailer?

For your customers

Customers have more power than before. Their options have increased and online continues to challenge a visit to a bricks and mortar business. How are you incentivising, rewarding and engaging with them? What added value do they get for choosing to visit your centre? 

For your centre

What data are you using to understand your customers? How are you using this data to personalise their experience, and to influence the right retailers? Are you relying on your VIP list (which, let’s be honest, is typically an email signup) and the hope they’ll open the emails you send? Imagine what you could do knowing specifically who your customers are, what drives their decisions, where they spend, how often and when? It’s all available if you add enough value and earn the right to hold real estate on their phone.

Are you thinking mobile first?

Norbit is designed and built to address all of the above, adding value to all three groups. We help many centres and malls across the world to better engage with their customers and retailers and extend their marketing budgets in doing so. It’s much more than just ‘an app’, and provides a full marketing, engagement and loyalty program for shopping centres aimed to attract and retain customers and tenants.

Whether it’s our solution or another tactic that addresses the above, I think the future is clear; if you’re not thinking mobile first, you’re at risk of coming last.

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