Shopping Centers Today

APR 2015

Shopping Centers Today is the news magazine of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)

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i n m y o p i n i o n Getting some respect for specialty retail at last By Linda E. Johansen-James Over the past 17 years, american Kiosk Management has grown to be the largest operator of mall kiosks in the world, with up- wards of 1,000 locations. yet, despite our experience and size, the Great recession led us to do some serious thinking about the place of specialty retailers in the mall. Mall traffic was down, those who did come to malls were not spending as much time there, and some were simply not finding us. yet, even though traffic and sales were down, costs continued to rise. What could aKM do, we asked ourselves, to drive traffic to our loca- tions? What could we do to engage our customers and keep them? the fact was, the business was changing, and we needed to look for new ways to drive traffic and increase sales. traditionally, cart operators have not participated in the marketing strategies of malls. Neither have they been listed on mall directories, or on Facebook or websites. they do not participate in mall pro- motions or use other market- ing opportunities, such as table tents or standees. so aKM set out to change all this. and in so doing, we have also worked to challenge some deep-set no- tions about specialty retailers. For a start, despite the common term "temporary tenant," most cart operators are anything but temporary. some, like us, have been operating in malls for years; my average tenure in a mall is 16 years. Why not take advantage of what the malls offer? When we added market- ing and a robust CrM [customer- relationship management] program, it increased our sales. shoppers who didn't know we were in the mall, let alone where we were located, could suddenly find us on the mall website and directory. shoppers who didn't know we were in the mall found us on the mall's Facebook page. Being an active retailer in the mall and not just a cart operator has changed our business model. We have a marketing department and a robust marketing strategy. We have also implemented a vIp registry where we communicate with our guests ev- ery week. Guests come to the mall more often and thus have increased our sales and the traffic at the mall. We have partnered with the marketing departments at each mall and worked closely to do things like standees, digital marketing and other forms of marketing to drive traffic to our carts or kiosks. What is more, developers are embracing this strategy. For our part, we change and refresh our merchandising to be cur- rent and reflect the brands we rep- resent. It behooves all of us to find new and innovative ways to increase the sales in the common area. In my opinion, if we continue to do things the same way and expect a different result, we are missing the boat. With the consumers spending more time shopping online and less time shopping at the mall, we must find ways to continue to reinvent ourselves and encourage our guests to shop with us at the mall. S C T Linda E. Johansen-James, CRX, CLS, is chief executive officer of American Kiosk Management, Las Vegas. 72 S C T / A p r i l 2 0 1 5 With the consumers spending more time shopping online and less time shopping at the mall, we must find ways to continue to reinvent ourselves. , H o u s t o n G a L L E r i a

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