A multi-pronged solution to bringing a brick-and-mortar legacy brand to the digital surface
Simon Property Group (NYSE: SPG) is a global leader in the ownership of premier shopping, dining, entertainment and mixed-use destinations, and an S&P 100 company. The company's shopping centres across North America, Europe, and Asia provide community gathering places for millions of people every day and generate billions in annual sales.
"We are the global leader in premier shopping, dining and entertainment destinations," says Patrick Flanagan, Vice President of Digital Marketing & Strategy. "We're hyper-focused on the quality of our portfolio and on growing by providing the best possible omni-channel experiences to our shoppers."
"Shoppers care about every aspect of the experience of going to the shopping mall. When you got there, was there a great smell? What music could you hear? Did the door automatically open when you had your hands full with kids? We can do all that on our own. But the digital and search experience aspect is just as important – making sure you are well informed so that you can find the place, or don't show up and the mall is closed down due to special hours. If you've never been there and your Uber driver drops you off in a back alley, and its kind of scary and dark and you have to walk all the way around the building, that's part of the experience we're responsible for."
Simon Property Group faced a key decision point as it looked to the future of malls, outlet centers and the retail industry: how to reach shoppers with an accurate and compelling brand experience as they embrace new technologies, such as voice search.
"One of the ways we've looked at this opportunity has been how to best harness intelligent services to help us deliver tangible innovations that elevate and enhance the shopping experience, before, during and after the visit."
"Regardless of how good our in-centre events, our amenities and our retailers that we've worked really hard to lease space to are, we have to make sure that we can answer a set of core questions when a shopper decides to look for us," says Flanagan. "'Is there a mall in my area?' 'How do I get there?' 'What are its hours?' 'How can I contact it?' 'Is X store located there?' We have to get all of these things right in every single possible place the shopper cares about. All that knowledge has to be accurate, up to date, accessible and as rich as that service allows."
Flanagan continues, "This allows us to help our shopper find and locate our centres, whether it be via a search engine like Google, a map service like Apple Maps, an in-car GPS unit, a voice based virtual personal assistant like Alexa, or even get optimised drop off or pickup locations from Uber. Regardless of the channel, we feel a responsibility to make sure our shoppers are well equipped with accurate, complete and easily search accessible information about our shopping centres."