David Fuller-Watts, Managing Director at Mallcomm, the tech platform owned by proptech company Toolbox Group. Credit: Toolbox Group
Feature | Proptech

Technology is The Future for Outlet Centers

“As travel restrictions are eased over the coming months we will see the full return of tourist travel, which is good news for luxury retail destinations across the UK and Europe.”

By David Fuller-Watts

Europe’s luxury outlet centers, including Bicester Village, will be among the biggest beneficiaries. Before the pandemic, the UK’s Bicester Village, located near Oxford, received around 7 million visitors a year–a third of whom were from overseas. Incredibly, in 2015 80% of Chinese visitors to London also made the journey to Bicester Village, underlining the allure of luxury designer brands at discounted prices. But simply offering luxury brands at discounted prices is not enough to attract visitors from all over the world. Destinations must also create a world-class shopping experience which blends the physical and the digital. 

When we launched Mallcomm in 2014 it was primarily used to connect landlords and tenants and enable them to collaborate in real-time to drive operational efficiencies. Today, there is much more emphasis on how digital tools can enhance the visitor experience and create places that blur the line between online and physical retail. 

First and foremost, a visitor’s experience must be as frictionless as possible. Retail places must be easy to access, queues and congestion must be managed, and basic amenities must be readily available. One benefit of having an app or online platform for visitors is that they can be informed in real-time of any queues or congestion, so they can plan their day accordingly. Post-pandemic this type of instant communication is even more important in ensuring visitors understand any social distancing guidelines or other precautions that may be in place, so they can be prepared. 

At leading retail destinations there is also a move towards a digital concierge offer–allowing visitors to access luxury services such as valet parking, order food and beverages, access special offers and purchase bus and rail tickets. This level of service, akin to a five-star hotel, means shoppers can access all the information and services they need via an app–and crucially, can use it to plan their next visit. Digitizing the concierge service also reduces the need for help desks in centers, creating space that can be commercialized by retailers or other partners or utilized as public seating or meeting space. 

The return of tourists will be a huge boost for the leading outlet centers, and it will be vital that centers deliver a best-in-class experience that keeps them coming back. 

Sign up for our ACROSS Newsletter. Subscribe to ACROSS Magazine.

Proptech MORE

Lillenium launches an innovative digital loyalty program with Coniq

Lillenium Mall has appointed Coniq to launch a new customer engagement and loyalty program that integrates digital applications and omnichannel innovation to create frictionless retail journeys for their customers.

Improving the Customer Experience through the Lens of Data

Landlords, tenants, and service providers have to collaborate with each other in order to create the best customer experience. Data helps when it comes to making better decisions. PropTech enables landlords to connect using such data.

What Does the Permanent Shift in Consumer Behavior Mean for Retail Destinations?

The last two years have shown us that nobody can predict the future, but: Understanding detailed customer behavior and responding with specific value and service are no longer “extras” with respect to the retail business model – they are essential to survival.

NEPI Rockcastle and Placewise: Partnership for Advanced Omnichannel Shopping Technology

The Placewise Marketplace Performance Cloud (MPC), a digital operating system developed for retail real estate, will be integrated at 45 shopping centers to provide the most advanced modern shopping experience to NEPI’s combined annual 244 million shoppers.

Multi Corporation and Chainels announce strategic collaboration

Multi Corporation has launched the "Multi Forum" tenant experience app to further improve management of its assets. Powered by Chainels, the tenant experience app is a user-friendly portal available in website and app formats.

Multi Poland: Digital Integration positively impacts Retail Asset Value

One of the most important lessons the retail real estate industry can learn from the pandemic is to recognize the importance of omnichannel and big data. Investing in digital solutions can provide a competitive advantage and better results for both landlords and tenants.