Shopping Centers Today

MAR 2017

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

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M A R C H 2 0 1 7 / S C T 47 Simon has rolled out new, digitally interactive mall maps on all its properties' websites. The state-of-the-art map technology allows shoppers to easily navigate Simon centers before and during their visits, includes point-to-point navigation between stores, and provides a directory of available services and amenities that further enhance the shopping experience. "Simon is continually looking for opportunities to enhance the shopping experience, and we quickly recognized the potential of this new technology to do just that," said Mikael Thygesen, chief marketing officer for Simon. "Consumer response and feedback to our new interactive maps since our pre-holiday launch last year has exceeded expectations, with usage levels well above the targets we set." The 3-D digital maps, leveraging technology provided by Mappedin, an indoor mapping developer, contain the following features: Enhanced interactive capabilities 3-D maps allow shoppers to manipulate a center's map by panning, zooming and rotating the map. Shoppers can hover over and click on a store for store-related information; Enhanced wayfinding Shoppers are able to pick a destination and a starting point to receive point-to-point navigation guidance via a way- finding path visual; Increased discoverability A 'smart search' bar automatically suggests applicable results and learns over time how best to rank search suggestions; Increased actionability Across Simon's websites, links at a store or restaurant level lead directly into relevant map views, making it as easy as possible for shoppers to research and preplan their upcoming shopping visits; Deeper insights Rich supporting analytics enhance understanding of shopper's behavior and usage of the interactive maps. "Simon is at the forefront of exploring, testing and adopting what is possible with today's technology," said Hongwei Liu, co-founder and CEO of Mappedin. "By integrating new technologies and continuously investing in improvements, Simon is ensuring the shopper has an enjoyable, productive and fun experience in their centers." n High-tech maps make shopping seamless at Simon malls or other information seekers as secondary visitors. Though Butler Enterprises designed its site to serve businesses and consumers alike, other landlords typically use separate shopping center websites to serve shoppers. The latest round of website designs generally feature beefed-up property pages to better respond to tenants and retail brokers seeking space. Most have boosted the volume of information available, including interactive demographic maps, availability of space and similar resources, to make leasing easier and more efficient. "The property page is the lifeblood of a shopping center website," said Kimco's Agostinello. "We have various audiences and try to balance everything we do, but the number-one functionality needs to be focused on the broker or potential tenant side." It is important that websites contain interactive communication tools and also that they be easy to update, says Chelsie Petereit, vice president of marketing at Chicago-based Starwood Retail Partners, which expects to launch a new website this spring. "I think that flexibility and the ability to make updates and additions in-house are the result of tech advances over just the past five years," Petereit said. Starwood plans to provide tenant criteria packages on its upgraded property page, so that its new retail, restaurant and entertainment tenants will have the information they need "without having to go through an endless run of emails." It is also critical for websites to provide landlords with analytics on which pages and data are most in demand among visitors, shopping center officials say. RPAI employs a heat-mapping plug-in that uses colors to reveal how much activity a web page is generating – red typically indicates the most traffic and blue the least. To date, the plug-in confirms that space-seeking potential tenants and investors are the most active users of the site, O'Connell says. Woodmont also uses tools to track users, and digging into search components and other usage patterns can help website designers tailor the site's information and interactivity to the user's needs, Galuppo says. "We need to ensure that those visiting the website feel like they have been heard and acknowledged," she said. "There's a story to be had just by paying attention to what people are doing when they are on the site." n

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