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Left: Mariam Hussain, Head of Research at Multi Corporation. Credit: Multi | Right: Forum Gdansk. Credit: Multi

Forum Gdansk: A Case Study in Mall Operations

The shopping center that was opened in 2018 by Multi Corporation in the Polish port city is a prime example of strategic digitalization in retail real estate.

By Mariam Hussain

In an operationally intensive industry, such as real estate, the integration and development of digital solutions can deliver competitive advantages and better outcomes for tenants as well as customers. The implementation of prop tech in real estate assets has been in place for several years; however, the impact of Covid-19 and changing consumer habits have accelerated its adoption and evolution.

Multi Corporation is one of the largest commercial asset management companies in Europe. Its operational strategy encompasses several key partnerships across the prop tech spectrum, and digitalization is an integral aspect of its service offering: the “Multi Toolbox”. Across its retail assets, the company has digitalized existing processes through applications, such as mall income management, communication channels between tenants and center management, technical procedures and documentation management, advanced footfall counting solutions, tenant-to-tenant relations, project management applications, customer loyalty programs, and facilities management – all of which work to improve the quality of the shopping center experience.

Digital Solutions for Real Estate Management
Forum Gdansk, one of Multi’s premium retail-anchored mixed-use assets, is a prime example of how different technology systems can shape operational strategy. One of the fundamental solutions from the “Multi Toolbox” in place at the shopping center is an application that tenants can that combines, in one place, all tasks and communications related to mall operations. That includes the coordination of technical management and security, tenant communications, liaison between all service providers, and an overall centralization of total workflow. Such digitalization enables on-site shopping center management teams to maintain a high level of efficiency in their daily workflow and helps ensure that larger group business objectives are met.

Through Multi’s “Centre Operations” application, the company can gauge the quality of relations between its staff and tenants at Forum Gdansk through tenant satisfaction surveys, enabling it to assess engagement and understand how they can work more cohesively. More than 95% of our shopping center tenants use the app, both iterating confidence in tenant relations and demonstrating Multi’s thorough understanding of the daily needs and challenges of tenants.

Multi’s Building Management Systems (BMS) is a further example of how advanced digital solutions can work to meet group objectives. BMS consistently monitors energy consumption in order to meet carbon reduction goals, as well as measuring water and electricity consumption in order to achieve center management and group level environmental targets. Converting documentation methods from physical to digital systems for building monitoring, as well as financial, legal, communication, and technical procedures, also supports climate-friendly initiatives, with simultaneous workflow optimization. As a part of Multi’s long term ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) strategy, monitoring the use of all resources is crucial to understanding and improving building environmental impact.

Linking Data, Consumer Behavior, and Asset Strategy

In emergent and rapidly changing conditions, such as during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, reliable and efficient communication was vital to align with changing government regulations and health and safety concerns. Such established digital systems, by means of the “Multi Toolbox”, helped to maintain high quality center management and responsive tenant relations in demanding conditions, especially where in-person interaction was highly restricted. Positive feedback on the performance of daily operations was reflected in Multi’s annual “Pan European Customer Monitor + COVID-19 Survey (November 2020)”, which spanned 50 retail locations, 11 countries, and 33,000 visitor responses. The results of the survey highlighted that 80% of visitors felt safe as a result of the measures implemented by local teams, and a striking number stated that they felt COVID-19 sensitive areas, such as elevators, food courts, and bathrooms were safe to use.

(In-House) Data Intelligence for Asset Performance
Through the “Multi Toolbox”, the company is able to monitor footfall and turnover, providing vital internal analytics to further understand factors that influence malls. During 2020, predictability in data extraction, filtering, and analysis were essential to Multi in discerning how individual locations were impacted by the pandemic. Implementation of a tenant-focused application made it possible for asset intelligence to become more standardized at the group level, harmonizing different digital solutions.

Looking toward the future, the diversification of retail assets through the addition of functions, both physical and digital, is at the forefront of post-pandemic recovery strategies. Digitalization can help to successfully coordinate and centralize complex daily workflows for mixed-use real estate assets. In addition, it is important to integrate digital tools into the physical design of spaces and work hand-in-hand to improve the user experience, including for spaces with multi-use functions.