“Digital visibility is a must”

Shopping centers support their tenants’ digital strategies and contact with their customers with increasing sophistication and multi-media. And it’s the smartphone that makes it all possible.

As a VIP client of her favorite clothing label, Antje Lanz knows that a new discount campaign starts today. It also applies to online purchases which advertising manager Antje thinks is useful and time-saving. However, in the shopping mall store a free prosecco and a short fashion show will be added into the bargain along with her reduced shirt. Her friends want to come with her too. Today, Antje Lanz is happy to plan a detour from the office into the center. And just in case she still has to send one more e-mail after work, it’s no longer a problem. For the past six months the center has been offering its customers free WiFi.  

”But that’s not all. Digital visibility is becoming a crucial positioning factor for shopping centers as well as their tenants” says IPH managing director Joachim Stumpf. And for good reason: clients are now almost permanently online. According to an ARD/ZDF online study carried out in the summer of 2016, people in Germany are now spending more than two hours a day surfing the net. For younger people it is almost twice as long. The smartphone has become the most popular device for this and has outstripped the PC. So it is only logical that retailers are also reacting and bringing their advertising strategies into line with the communication habits of their customers. Shopping centers have a key position in this. “They offer retailers an Internet platform for advertising campaigns, new products, events, offers or services” says Stumpf. Everything to do with a shopping center and the planned shopping experience that might interest customers must be presented and packaged in a mobile-capable and user-friendly way.

Experience shows that not every type of business has to be presented on every digital channel. The more cross-regional the outreach of a shopping center, the more extensive the digital package should be. The website plays a very important role in this. It serves to clearly position the center, shows relevant innovations such as new shops and draws the attention of the client. Whereas a mobile-capable website is sufficient for a specialist retail park, a medium-sized shopping mall should also have at least a Facebook presence. Very large centers have also created promotional films for Youtube channels and an Instagram presence, which are often developed with the assistance of external agencies. Free WiFi should however be offered by all kinds of business. The various platforms are financed through contractually agreed advertising revenue paid in addition to the rent. Retailers barely notice it on the balance sheet as the additional expenditure on digital activity is compensated for by reductions in printed media – fewer advertisements, fewer center newspapers. The content of a shopping center’s digital presence is made available at regular intervals by retailers to the center management – for example once a week – and is incorporated into the web presence. “All retailers benefit from this, but in particular the small ones who do not have their own web presence, for example a key-cutting bar” says Stumpf.

Search engine as a guarantee of footfall

The digital channels also communicate which click-and-collect services are located at the center. These can themselves generate additional footfall, for example when customers return goods to the shop and then purchase other items at the same time. IPH managers cite the visibility of a shopping mall as a central criterion for the success of the digital strategy. This considerably influences its appeal and also its commercial success. Center managers can employ various methods for checking and, where appropriate, improving visibility. Google Analytics, for example, enables center managers and tenants alike to measure footfall from smart phones and apps. In this way it can be determined how frequently a center is searched for on Google or where it is then mentioned among other things. With an entry on “Google Business”, a center is marked on digital maps, and this has a direct impact on actual visitor numbers. “Only people who are digitally visible to the target group will have retail success” explained Stumpf.

Your contact:

Joachim Stumpf

Tel.: +49 89 55118-143

E-mail: stumpf@bbe.de