Building a Roadmap for Creating an Engaging Digital Experience in Retail

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Continuous technological innovations and economic trends have resulted in the demand for fourth-generation shopping center directories. These highly interactive displays can combine durable wireless design, connections to mobile technology and the capacity to change content based on environmental observation.

Simon Property Group, a global commercial real estate company with more than 325 properties across North America and Asia, chose Gable to create the physical, software and management systems needed to create world-class fourth generation directories for its properties.

BACKGROUND

In Fall 2015, Gable began working with Simon Property Group to create a prototype of innovative, new digital directories designed to meet the needs of millions of visitors at Simon Malls. Simon has had directories in its malls for more than 30 years, and has worked with other vendors to develop interactive directory systems. However, these efforts fell short in meeting all of Simon’s stringent needs for directories with a durable design, and a robust content system that could take advantage of their large in-house product advertising team.

After working with Gable on a series of display projects at properties throughout the United States and recognizing Gable’s ability to deliver end-to-end solutions for its clients, Simon decided to work more closely with Gable to create a directory system uniquely adapted to its specific needs.

A collaborative development team was formed, led by Stephen Gottlich, Vice President of Digital and Strategic Alliances for Gable. Gable also brought in a number of companies to support their innovation efforts including Acquire Digital, the software company behind the robust and flexible three-dimensional mapping software system. In addition, Gable worked closely to integrate Simon’s in-house systems with Mappedin, Simon’s internal software for managing retail spaces.

Building a Roadmap for Creating an Engaging Digital Experience in RetailGable and Simon started their journey by analyzing industry and technological trends behind the development of a fourth-generation system. They soon settled on goals for the system they would create. Goals included:

  • A highly durable design that can be easily viewed in a variety of interior and exterior conditions
  • A sophisticated three-dimensional navigation system with advanced search options and connectivity with mobile devices.
  • Powerful back of house systems that allow for wireless installation and rapid content change based on real-time customer observation

Utilizing an open and transparent process, Gable closely collaborated with Simon to develop the most advanced shopping center directory in the world. Over six months, Gable and Simon worked on research and development, digging into different hardware and software technologies available globally. Gable conducted an analysis of each technology, ranking attributes based on a variety of factors including price, durability, ease of use and ability to meet program requirements.

Toward the end of Summer 2016, Simon and Gable arrived on a directory designed to include the most advanced hardware and software technologies available.

PROJECT SPECIFICS

Simon’s new, fourth-generation digital directories incorporate the latest in digital wayfinding and interactive capabilities, and are designed to provide shoppers with convenient access to what’s going on at their favorite mall through an engaging new user interface.

The directories offer a sleek and durable design, housed in a double-sided, thin informational landmark offering an easily lockable case. Color-changing strips enhance themes such as pink for breast cancer awareness month.

The directories include next-generation operating system with three-dimensional mapping and drop-down search options, connected to an internal information management system. The directories are easy for each individual mall to install, allowing Simon to roll out the products quickly on a national scale.

For shoppers, the directories are easy to use and offer a unique experience inside each mall. The directories first come to life when a shopper walks within a few feet of the screen. The digital, interactive maps highlight the location of shops and services before displaying the fastest route for shoppers to take. Shoppers also have the option to send those directions to their mobile device through a variety of digital communication channels (beacons, NFC, SMS, etc.). A universal search option allows for a quick search of stores, dining options and services.

Information on the latest offers and deals available from retailers and restaurants equips shoppers with all the information they need to make their shopping trip productive and enjoyable. In addition, the digital directories use the latest location-based marketing technology to allow brands to connect directly with their customers with real-time, relevant information.

Building a Roadmap for Creating an Engaging Digital Experience in RetailRESULTS

Testing of the prototype directory proved to be a resounding success. Directories were effective under the most strenuous weather conditions and met all of Simon’s high standards for creating an effective visitor experience.

In Fall 2016, directories were unveiled as part of King of Prussia’s grand reopening festivities in August and were also installed at Clarksburg Premium Outlets (Clarksburg, MD); Copley Place (Boston, MA); Fashion Centre at Pentagon City (Arlington, VA); Florida Mall (Orlando, FL); Forum Shops at Caesars Palace (Las Vegas,

NV); The Galleria (Houston, TX); The Westchester (White Plains, NY); Stanford Shopping Center (Palo Alto, CA) and Del Amo Fashion Center (Torrance, CA). Installations to expand are continuing on a rolling basis.

Simon is extremely pleased with the impact of the new directories, especially the ability for users to view them as extensions of their mobile devices, making them more approachable. In addition, the wireless directory system has been delivering on its promise to expand Simon’s revenue stream from advertising, making the platform a more exciting sell to retailer and product companies buying advertising space.

 

 

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