Credit: ECE
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ECE partners with Google to take another step in turning shopping centers into omnichannel platforms

ECE is continuing to push the expansion of its shopping centers into omnichannel platforms and is underpinning these efforts with a new strategic partnership with Google.

This partnership makes it possible for bricks-and-mortar retailers to display their locally available products in Google search results, making it an integral part of the “connected commerce” strategy that links online and offline channels. The connecting element is the “Stocksquare” data platform, a joint venture founded by ECE and OTTO for the expansion of their connected commerce activities. It already connects bricks-and-mortar retailers to the otto.de online platform and to the “Digital Mall” in ECE centers, and is now also the basis for the partnership with Google. 

Locally available product ranges visible in Google search results 

The partnership being launched with Google makes it possible, for example, for retailers already connected to the “Digital Mall” of ECE to demonstrate the product ranges they have available locally at centers using the “See What’s in Store” feature in Google search results. That means when customers search for a store name in connection with a location, they can see on the store’s Google page whether a product they are looking for is available in-store and view the complete range with pricing and availability information and the store’s business hours. This is particularly relevant from the customer’s point of view, since inquiries about local availability have risen sevenfold in the last year and since 68% of physical purchases globally are preceded by an online check to see whether the desired product is also available in-store. 

“We are making a consistent push to connect our shopping centers with online platforms in order to increase online visibility for the bricks-and-mortar stores at our shopping centers, helping them generate additional revenue,” says Dr. Philipp Sepehr, Chief Digital Officer at ECE, “We see Google and Otto Group platforms such as otto.de as strong partners with which we plan to connect even more strongly in the future.” For ECE, integrating its centers with relevant online platforms is an essential component of its omnichannel strategy, which aims to connect bricks-and-mortar retail and online business better and more closely and enable additional revenue and traffic for stores. 

“These days customers are planning their purchases at local stores with much more precision and detail, because they want to know what they can expect before they actually visit the store. As a result, the demand for real-time information like store business hours, product availability, and contact-free product pick-up has risen strongly in recent months. Using Stocksquare, a local feed partner, local retailers can connect with each other online and offline over the long term and boost the visibility of their products in Google searches,” says John Gerosa, Managing Director Retail Markets at Google. 

Ship from mall: delivery trial increases store revenue by 500% 

Another partnership was recently launched with Limango, an Otto Group platform. Together with Jack Wolfskin, ECE performed an omnichannel trial run on the platform, selling bricks-and-mortar products on Limango and delivering them directly from stores at a center. As a result, the average daily revenue of the Jack Wolfskin store at Alstertal-Einkaufszentrum Hamburg (AEZ) was increased by 500%. Limango.de is Europe’s leading private shopping community for mothers and young families with 8 million members. As part of the trial run, customers on the site had one day to shop the AEZ Jack Wolfskin store’s sale range online and have it delivered from the store. During this pilot project, the logistics process was implemented and tested in collaboration with Hermes Germany. To handle the delivery processes, Hermes set up a pop-up parcel shop at Alstertal-Einkaufszentrum which, in addition to providing standard parcel shop services, also collects, packages, and delivers the online orders from the stores at the center. 

“The highly successful pilot shows the potential revenue that can be produced by connecting online marketplaces with stores at shopping centers. It makes ECE’s vision of the shopping center as an omnichannel hub even more palpable,” says Sepehr. 

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