Malls tap new tech to track shoppers and find out what they want

It’s an indicator of the times.

Against a backdrop of falling foot traffic and shuttered department stores, mall owners are seeking ways to even more accurately track shoppers at their properties. The information allows landlords to make even more educated decisions about how exactly to redevelop and pick tenants.

Jones Lang LaSalle, a services company that specializes in real estate and investment management, will begin using a new device called Pinpoint to keep an eye on shoppers within a “geofence” at malls. Think about it as a digital lasso that may look at where individuals wander, and how long they stay there, within a realm of space.

The tool was created in partnership with Alexander Babbage, an Atlanta-based location insights and analytics firm.

For the longest time, the retail industry has relied on data that only define a “theoretical shopper,” Alexander Baggage CEO Alan McKeon told CNBC. Now, more companies will be able to find out about their “actual buyers,” using JLL’s monitoring. This allows retailers to target customers they haven’t been reaching, and additional tap into those who frequently visit their stores.

While geotracking is not a new thought, JLL’s adoption of the device marks a major step for malls, and their additional retail consumers, in this route and acceptance of new technology, McKeon said.

When a location-aware device, such as a smartphone, enters a geofence, data may then be pulled from that user, or outbound communication could be initiated.

Presently, many retail landlords rely on their own foot traffic counters and other generic trade area metrics to learn about consumer behavior. But with some significant mall redevelopments underway heading into 2018, that fundamental insight won’t suffice.

“We can’t rely on archaic methods to remain competitive in the digital age group,” Greg Maloney, CEO and president of JLL’s retail organization, said in a affirmation.

“The main element to geofencing is to garner the most accurate and statistically sound info and translate it into actionable insights,” he added. “We’ve run our check pilot program on some centers and every time it has impressed the demographics within radius and mileage bands.”

Overall, geofences are expected to play a substantially bigger position within the industry.

The “smart-targeting” technology is likely to make up a roughly $40 billion industry by 2019, according to a study by Markets and Markets. That’s a rise of five circumstances, from about $8 billion, since 2014.

Industry professionals say knowing a simple shopper profile, or demographics, isn’t enough today.

JLL’s Pinpoint will feed landlords and retailers information regarding where shoppers result from, what selection of stores they check out, and how long they store there, all found in real-time.

This data works extremely well in several ways. Merchants could ping consumers with special offers when they enter a particular region of a mall or shopping center, for example.

Firms including American Eagle Outfitters and Taco Bell have got tested the technology to either concentrate on shoppers with promotions or entice them to download an app, once on the premises.

Mall owners are now looking to do more of the same, but the information gathered allows them to make decisions such as whether more dining options are needed. In addition, it can help them pick tenants and judge if some leases are worth extending.

“Consumers behave extremely differently today than they did even 3 years ago,” Maloney added.

The target with Pinpoint is to help retail landlords get sales back to their properties, by permitting them to gather as substantially information as possible about those new consumers.

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