Malls Adopt New Technologies, Enter the Digital Age (Finally!)
“Malls are undergoing an evolution from analog to digital experiences to better monetize their real estate with newer, technology-focused solutions like livestreaming and loyalty programs,” writes Vidhi Choudhary in an article in Modern Retail. Well, you might think, “Doh, it’s about time!”
The article explores several examples of malls moving into the 21st century, most notably the Mall of America in Minnesota, which, among other digital initiatives:
- Piloted its first livestreaming initiative in late 2020 with Popshop Live.
- Now offers an e-commerce website called Shop MOA.
- Will launch a new loyalty/rewards program for online shoppers in 2023.
Also next year, the Mall of America plans to introduce a livestream initiative that integrates first-party data with Shop MOA.
“I think it’s really important that malls are in the e-commerce space interrupting consumer journeys where they are looking to purchase online,” Grant Buntje, vice president of marketing for Mall of America told Modern Retail.
Other mall operators and developers across the country also are moving into digital, the article notes. Some examples include the addition of more digital displays, small kiosks, and innovations such as Brookfield Properties selling airspace for augmented reality that consumers can access through their smartphones at more than 100 of its locations. And Simon Property Group, the nation’s largest mall operator, has partnered with ShopShops to add livestreaming to their malls. (For more examples and details, see the original article.)
Other points the article touched on include how mall developers are looking for new ways to revamp their advertising spaces as past business models prove less effective; finding new ways to make money from their advertising spaces; and looking more to digital-out-of-home (DOOH) ads. Also, by going online, mall-based stores can sell beyond their geographic locations, including internationally.
As the initial fallout of the pandemic recedes and more consumers feel safe shopping in malls, the mega-shift to e-commerce is receding somewhat and being replaced by and/or merged with old school advertising methods.
“My view is that most mall owners were much more experimental with advertising models,” said Neil Saunders, managing director, retail at consulting firm GlobalData. However, he added, “as in-person shopping has roared back they have shifted back to more traditional advertising.” He noted that the majority of advertising at malls is still physical signs, which he said still remains one of the most efficient methods for reaching consumers.
This story is part of The Great Mall Overhaul, a joint editorial series from Modern Retail and Glossy that looks into the ways mall businesses have been forced to change. Find the original article and others here.
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