By Renata Kinde-Czyz
Covid-19 made us really SEE people. We were and still are confronted with all kinds of very sad casualty statistics around the world. Many governments and businesses still hold their breath and frantically calculate how much this pandemic is going to cost them. But human protection and security are first priorities so everything else needs to wait.
At the same time, we all understand that some inevitable changes were sped up by Covid. For some time already the voices about the necessity of customer experience in retail and seamless online/offline shopping have become loud and clear. Projects were started but then Covid hit and human-centered projects became the priority. A professional approach was not enough to face all the challenges. All around us people had to face private difficulties, losses and worries, which needed to be addressed on individual basis and on a far more profound human level. Addressing these needs means finding sustainable solutions and maintaining business continuity.
After implementing health protection measures, we at Metro Properties Poland, focused on entertaining the fans of M1 by numerous competitions on social media channels (almost 90,000 observers in one online event), especially during the first national lockdown. In times of such crisis, people need to be taken care of so we launched a national campaign–„Be kind“. Our initiative has been since that time supported by one of the national radio stations–Radio ZET. We not only motivated people to take care of each other but also awarded the best initiatives. We bought the awards in M1 Shopping centers of course. Our colleagues at Metro Properties Poland became sincere advocates of this campaign. During summer when the restrictions were eased, we organized free-of-charge drive-in cinemas on our parking lots since the regular ones were closed. The local communities, fans of M1, appreciated their needs being taken care of. In another campaign we also appreciated and honored local heroes: doctors, policemen and everybody on the frontline. We bought almost 4,000 meals from our gastronomy operators and sponsored them to local hospitals and organizations fighting the pandemic.
Being well aware of our tenants’ extreme difficulties in running their businesses, we immediately contacted all of them directly, learning how we could be of help. Since many years, we have been nourishing sustainable relationships with our Partners. Thanks to that, we were able to work out compromises and keep stores operating. Pro-selling activities like awarding customers for bigger shopping are another initiative to help the M1 tenants. Understanding the pressure and amount of tasks of the store staff, we decided to implement the very user-friendly app “I Mall”, facilitating easy and instantaneous communication between tenants, service companies and the management of each shopping center. That became particularly important in times of social distancing. The app “Imall” by Me & My Friends is now being used by 800 tenants, who appreciate that we have thought about saving their time and effort.
“Be kind” is not just a slogan for Metro Properties Poland. Many are asking what will be the future of retail after the pandemic is over. We are all driving this evolution, adapting to changes in the environment. Therefore, it will look exactly as we in the retail sector will shape it. For us, a human-centric vision is one of the main values shaping our vision of the future for any shopping center we manage or will manage. We are functioning in eco-systems and whatever we do will impact humans: business partners, customers, employees, suppliers, etc. We need to adopt a 360-degrees human-centric vision to thrive in a sustainable business. Our main target in property management is to create communities appreciating the same set of values and benefitting from togetherness as well as an inspiring and creative human-centric environment.