The ICSC Blog

Crowdsourcing: How the voice of the people can benefit your shopping center

By: Stephanie Shriver-Engdhal, Vice President of Digital Strategy at Forest City Enterprises

Black or white? Paper or Plastic? Fries or onion rings? Mets or Yankees? Here or there?

Choices, people like ‘em.  People also like having a say, as they voluntarily rally behind their favorite singer on The Voice or American Idol, voting online to their heart’s content. The public has become accustomed to voicing its opinion so why not harness that interest and use it to improve your shopping center?

Enter, Popularise, an online crowdsourcing platform focused on local development that provides a “Builder” (developer, property manager, etc.) a new way to interact with the local community and customer. By creating a “Drawing Board” on Popularise, a shopping center creates an online hub for soliciting ideas and engaging shoppers in discussions on questions such as:

  • What types of retailers or restaurants would you like to see?
  • What amenities would enhance your shopping experience?
  • How can pedestrian access be improved?
  • What types of events and activities would you like to attend?

No idea is too big or too small, from pitching a retailer you’d like to see, a quick-fix solution like adding a water fountain, or a long-term project like mall renovation. With this tool, a shopping center has the opportunity to broaden the dialogue as it continues to look into the future.

Upon kicking off a Popularise campaign, it’s important to engage your customer in using your center’s “Drawing Board”:

  • Promote: Post signage in high-traffic areas, utilize social media and include in email newsletters directing customers to share their ideas.
  • Host an event: Invite customers to a brainstorm session for the center, providing a fun opportunity for shopping center management to interact with customers.
  • Create a contest: Develop a promotion around giving a prize to the first person whose submitted idea was successfully executed.
  • Respond: React to ideas, let your customers know you’re listening and value their ideas.

Crowdsourcing programs are developed not only to not think about what’s next but to give your customers the power – and choice – to help determine that. And when that’s the case, everybody wins.


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