The outlook for retail shopping centers isn’t great, with analysts forecasting that 15% of malls in the U.S. will be repurposed within the next decade. While organizations like the Westfield Group are looking inward by developing technology to reshape the brick-and-mortar shopping experience, other retail firms are on the hunt for outside solutions.
Given their position in the marketplace, hyperlocal vendors are uniquely able to help physical stores fight back against the changing tide. By using features like geo-targeting, indoor tracking, and mobile messaging, brick-and-mortar retailers can band together and increase their chances of survival. Here are five ways that hyperlocal technology can potentially save shopping malls from extinction.
1. By providing ways for retailers to join forces. “Hyperlocal platforms can customize a retailer’s messaging to provide ideas to customers out hunting for gifts. A shopping mall or complex could go in as a group and promote multiple stores at the same time to anyone within a certain radius. For example ‘Out shopping last minute? Home Decor Spot & Sports Zone are both running huge sales right around the corner.’ This way it give the user options and ideas to promote buying decisions.” (Linden Ryan Skeens, Thumbvista)
2. By lengthening the time shoppers stay on-site. “Retailers can capture a bigger share of the consumer wallet by using indoor positioning to keep consumers on-property for longer, both engaging in new activities and going deeper into existing activities. Examples of this include flash mob-style ‘heat maps’ to generate movement toward the discovery of new experiences—essentially, a hyperlocal version of the Krispy Kreme ‘Hot Light’. They can also identify complementary activities and send targeted offers to get consumers to bundle those activities in real-time.” (Parviz Parvizi, Lighthouse Signal Systems)
3. By giving national chains a local feel. “One of the things we talk about a lot is the concept of ‘making the big company small.’ Our system localizes customer experience surveys, even across vast enterprises. If you buy your bike from the Trek bike dealership in San Diego and go to their customer experience survey, you’ll be seeing photos of local San Diego employees and their stories interwoven into the survey.” (Max Israel, Customerville)
4. By using urgent deals to bring new customers inside. “We can help create a sense of urgency for a mobile user to come into a brick-and-mortar store as soon as possible with a time-sensitive deal. If a day is a little slow, a business owner that is on our platform can send out a message to anyone within a certain radius, and within the message it states that the sooner they redeem the larger the discount or reward. The message could read something like “Out & About? Swing by the nearest ABC Shoes & receive 50%-off before 12pm, 40% by 1pm, or 30% by 3pm.” (Linden Ryan Skeens, Thumbvista)
5. By monetizing the showrooming concept. “Rather than fighting showrooming, retail centers can use indoor positioning to enhance user showrooming—and then take a piece of the revenue generated. For example, it’s possible to open up in-store positioning as a platform to third-party app partners that respect user privacy. Businesses can also broker location-driven ads inside partner apps, which are informed by user showrooming behavior, and take a revenue share of the value that’s created.” (Parviz Parvizi, Lighthouse Signal Systems)
Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.