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MEGA Ekaterinburg mall in central Russia, Credit: Ingka Centres

Ingka Centres launches online marketplace

Ingka Centres launches new online community and marketplace – LIVAT online.

Ingka Centres has launched LIVAT Online, a new online community and marketplace that brings customers and tenants together for shopping, lifestyle and exchanging ideas. The move is part of Ingka Centres €7.3bn investment to transform its business in response to changing urban shopping habits and the digitalisation of retail.

Introduced in Ingka Centres’ LIVAT branded mall in Beijing with plans to be scaled out across LIVAT Wuxi and LIVAT Wuhan in China, LIVAT Online can carry 5000+ products from 130 brands. Customers can shop online from wherever they are, enjoy inspiring content, and participate in live streaming events. 

For the first time LIVAT tenants have the opportunity to showcase products and promotions on an exciting digital platform linked to their physical presence. This is providing them with exciting new ways of engaging with LIVAT customers and equipping them with new data-led digital tools. LIVAT Online is based on the ‘WeChat mini’ program. WeChat is China’s largest social media platform which engages more than 1.2 billion users.

MEGA Online, a similar online community was introduced at Ingka Centres’ Russian malls last year and has proven highly successful in driving hundreds of thousands of sales for retail partners.

Jonas Karlsson, Digital Product & Analytics Manager of Ingka Centres commented: “Our goal is to connect our customers, communities and partners with a sense of belonging and engage them in the community life at our centres. In becoming closer to the many, we are able to deliver seamless and personalised customer experiences and build stronger connections. Major digital initiatives such as LIVAT Online support this vision and will drive traffic to both physical and online stores.

“This is all part of the major investment we are making to transform our business for the future, tech powered but still human driven. We will shortly be introducing new digital offerings at many of our European malls. For example, Kings Mall, our first smaller format urban project in London will benefit from a wide range of digital features. We are taking a ‘test and learn approach’ in how we connect to the omnichannel experience, and to be locally relevant we have based LIVAT Online on WeChat in China.”

Ingka Centres expects live streaming of community activities from its centres to be a major part of LIVAT Online’s offering, which is hugely popular with Chinese audiences. Two LIVAT tenants have already achieved sales turnover of 260,000 RMB (32 750 euro) and 1,040,000 RMB (131 000 euro) respectively, as a direct result of thousands of people participating in 3 hour live streaming events on the newly launched platform.

LIVAT Online was first piloted at LIVAT Beijing. Despite it only being introduced as a ‘soft launch’ it attracted more than 34,000 unique visitors and added more than 5,000 members to the LIVAT Family loyalty program in just two days.

Speaking about launching the online community and marketplace in the current climate, Karlsson said: “Online shopping has likely been accelerated by COVID-19. Online communities have actually become more popular during the pandemic and we expect them to be used by many more people in the future. Our Meeting Places are all about bringing the many people together and this can be at our centres or online.”

During lockdown, Ingka Centres Tiare Shopping in Villesse, Italy was closed. While its doors were shut it established the ‘Tiare@Home’ concept to support and entertain its community through Facebook. Together with tenants, people shared ideas on things to do at home, kids games, tips for simple workouts, cooking and more. Since the project has started Tiare@Home reached 60,000 Italians.

Similarly when Russia’s MEGA branded malls were closed, Ingka Centres increased investment in MEGA Online. Since April, Ingka Centres has seen over 200,000 visitors using MEGA Online. To date more than 80,000 customers have been served via home delivery or hands-free pick-up points.

Russia also saw the pilot of a food-delivery service that offers access to different restaurants across each of its MEGA Meeting Places. Customers can order from multiple restaurants via an app, and all orders will be collected together and prepared for take away in just one click. MEGA Kazan in Russia became the first Meeting Place to provide this service to the local community, with others planned to roll out in due course.