Malls are struggling against a rising tide of online shopping that is making it easy for shoppers to window shop from the safety of their homes. This rise in online shopping has prompted malls to consider new ways to increase foot traffic and entice customers to visit the brick and mortar stores. Many malls, like those owned by the Simon property group, are turning to mobile applications to make it easier for customers to view store information, browse mall directories, and navigate using parking lot maps. Simon Malls has also partnered with Shopkick to deliver discounts and bonus rewards to shoppers who visit the mall.
Other mall owners such as the Westfield Group and Glimcher Realty Trust are also eyeing the mobile space for growth. The Westfield Group has already launched a mobile app, while Glimcher Realty Trust is in the process of developing one. These apps are not expected to save malls from the competition being offered by online sites such as Amazon, but they are used to engage customers and help them plan their shopping trips.
Simon Malls CEO David Simon looks beyond static applications and envisions a Groupon like service that lets merchants offer daily discounts for mall customers. Simon confirmed that the company may offer a loyalty program or other incentive-based discounts for the mall that involves all the retailers. Such a plan could be far-reaching enough to require the purchase of a dedicated technology group to oversee this endeavor. Though these was no mention of this technology, NFC and other mobile payments may also play a role in this expansion. It will be interesting to see what innovative uses of mobile applications these retailers can craft with some help from the technology sector.
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