Us­ing qual­ity con­tent to cre­ate a com­mu­nity re­ward pro­gram in shop­ping malls

The Insider - - CONTENTS -

Through­out North Amer­ica, the UK, Europe, and Aus­tralia, the last few years have been plagued by what an­a­lysts call the “Re­tail Apoca­lypse.” Ma­jor brands who were once be­he­moths in their re­spec­tive sec­tors are now clos­ing stores by the hun­dreds, while oth­ers are fil­ing for bank­ruptcy faster than you can say “Ama­zon!”

To keep peo­ple from aban­don­ing brick and mor­tar stores, deep-pock­eted de­vel­op­ers have in­vested mil­lions de­sign­ing shop­ping malls that are as much an en­ter­tain­ment and recre­ation cen­ter as they are a col­lec­tion of shops and restau­rants.

The West Ed­mon­ton Shop­ping mall in Al­berta, Canada is a good ex­am­ple. To lure peo­ple in, and keep them there as long as pos­si­ble (so they can en­tice them to spend money), the mall of­fers vis­i­tors a mas­sive trop­i­cal water park with the world’s largest in­door wave pool, a full-size pi­rate ship, and an ice palace all un­der one roof.

It’s def­i­nitely an en­tice­ment to go the mall even when you're not plan­ning to buy any­thing (which you likely will if the mall mar­kets to you ef­fec­tively), but not ev­ery de­vel­oper can af­ford that kind of in­vest­ment.

Which is why the use of loy­alty and re­ward pro­grams in the re­tail sec­tor has never been stronger. To­day, the av­er­age con­sumer is en­rolled in 14 pro­grams, in­clud­ing:

• Point-based (e.g. Star­bucks)

• Life­style pro­grams (e.g. Home De­pot Pro Xtra)

• Tier-based (e.g. Sephora)

• Coali­tion pro­grams of­fer ben­e­fits to cus­tomers from mul­ti­ple busi­nesses in ex­change for al­low­ing those busi­nesses to col­lect user data. (e.g. Air Miles/Travel Club)

Lately we’re see­ing more Com­mu­nity Re­wards Pro­grams (CRP) pop up where busi­nesses in spe­cific neigh­bor­hoods pool their re­sources to re­ward cus­tomers for their con­tin­ued pa­tron­age.

CRP can be on­line (e.g. smile.ama­ which do­nates a small per­cent­age of a pur­chase to a con­sumer’s cho­sen char­ity) or off­line (e.g. Of­fice De­pot’s do­na­tion of free school sup­plies when buy­ers of qual­i­fy­ing prod­ucts show their school ID at check­out).

In the shop­ping mall space, Si­mon Pre­mium Out­lets world­wide have a free on­line VIP pro­gram that of­fers ex­clu­sive deals and dis­counts at mem­ber stores to en­cour­age con­sumers to come back and, “Shop ‘til you drop!”

But with all the on­line dis­counts and pro­mo­tions Ama­zon of­fers around the clock, it’s hard to com­pete for eye­balls when they're often glued to phones where pro­mo­tions take up a good part of the real es­tate.

So one shop­ping mall down un­der tried some­thing a bit dif­fer­ent. It put to­gether a pro­mo­tion to in­crease WiFi us­age in the mall. Why? Be­cause it be­lieved that the more peo­ple used the free WiFi...

• The longer they would stay in the mall, giv­ing re­tail­ers more op­por­tu­ni­ties to cap­ture their at­ten­tion and wal­lets

• The more di­rect the re­la­tion­ships could be made be­tween the mall/stores and the shop­pers

• The bet­ter the in­sights into con­sumer be­hav­ior

To sweeten the pot and en­cour­age con­nec­tion, the prop­erty of­fered on­site vis­i­tors some­thing Ama­zon couldn’t give them: spon­sored ac­cess to PressReader.

When shop­pers en­tered the mall they were im­me­di­ately able to con­nect, search, and down­load their choice of thou­sands of the world’s best news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines on their own de­vices — con­tent that nor­mally fetched a pre­mium price in the app stores.

The shop­ping cen­ter management:

• Tar­geted shop­pers with in-mall posters

• Tapped into spe­cific cus­tomer wants, needs, and feel­ings

• Tied PressReader to the shop­ping be­hav­iors by em­pha­siz­ing trends in magazine top­ics

In the first month, WiFi con­nec­tions in­creased by 17%, with 20% of con­nected shop­pers us­ing PressReader to ac­cess con­tent. That 20% grew to 36% over the next two months.

The stick­i­ness of the PressReader app and the wealth of high qual­ity jour­nal­ism it of­fered kept shop­pers en­ter­tained and en­gaged longer and in the mall.

The ex­per­i­ment was the first of its kind in a shop­ping mall and taught some valu­able lessons to the prop­erty management about the ben­e­fits of con­tent in a Com­mu­nity Re­ward Pro­gram.

Some an­a­lysts be­lieve that the re­tail apoca­lypse nar­ra­tive is over­hyped, pre­dict­ing that phys­i­cal stores and malls will al­ways have a place in so­ci­ety. I hope that is true, but many ca­su­al­ties of the war for wal­lets are in­evitable as re­tail spend­ing con­tin­ues to move on­line.

An ar­gu­ment made was that peo­ple like to touch and feel things be­fore buy­ing them and stores are per­fect for that. Which is true to a point, but when one looks at Ama­zon’s “try be­fore you buy” Prime Wardrobe of­fer to its 100 mil­lion mem­bers, is the brick-and-mor­tar tac­tile dif­fer­en­tia­tor some­thing stores can count on in the fu­ture? I think not.

So, as the re­tail sec­tor faces in­creased can­ni­bal­iza­tion from the likes of Ama­zon, eBay, and Etsy, shop­ping cen­ters and tra­di­tional re­tail­ers must look for more in­no­va­tive ways to en­cour­age shop­pers to keep com­ing back to malls and shop­ping dis­tricts.

Dis­counts are short-term tac­tics with short-term re­sults, but in the long term, try­ing to com­pete with the on­line re­tail giants on price is just a race to bank­ruptcy.

In­stead, think of ways to give shop­pers what they can’t get from the dig­i­tal com­pe­ti­tion — some­thing that en­gages, en­ter­tains, and en­cour­ages re­peat vis­its. Give them some­thing they can’t refuse. If you’d like to know more about how PressReader can help your busi­ness, let’s talk!

Source: West Ed­mont Shop­ping Mall

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