The ICSC Blog

Enhancing the Shopping Center Experience through a Custom Mobile App

By Andrea Sirota, Vice President of Interactive Marketing & Media, Caruso Affiliated
As property owners, we must always think of new ways to engage our customers. Social media and e-commerce will continue to evolve people’s shopping habits – and in turn – how we do business. As such, digital innovation is critical to relevancy.  Many of you understand that top-performing retailers want to be associated with top-performing properties. And if you want to attract the best, you need to be the best.
As The Grove approached its 10th year, we wanted to do something innovative and cutting-edge that would add value for our guests and tenants. At the same time, it had to be fresh and new to the market. For us, investing in a custom app was the answer. But it is a big undertaking and a substantial time and financial investment. Based on our experience, here is some advice on developing a custom app for your shopping center:

  • Learn about your competitors. Download other apps and understand the landscape so you can make smart decisions. Know that you are creating an original app that your guests can’t get anywhere else.
  • Choose the right partner. Several app developers pitched concepts that we felt weren’t right for The Grove.  Understand your needs, trust your instincts and be picky.
  • Focus. We knew we wanted to focus on fashion and service, bringing the real life experience to the app. Choose one or two things you want to deliver on and build additional offerings from there.
    • Add value. We built services into our app that allow guests to meet up with friends, make a dinner reservation, request a bell cart and more. This gets them more engaged with our property while maximizing their time.
    • Make it a Marketing Tool. Now that you have built an app that adds value to your property, use it as an asset as you meet with potential tenants.

A well-built, innovative app will increase the average amount of time spent on your properties, and in turn, your sales per square foot. In addition, an app offers insight and data that you can leverage to better understand your customer.
Since our launch in November 2012, we’ve had nearly 115,000 sessions.  Using analytics, we have gained insight into which features our guests prefer, which helps us optimize for future versions. It also helps us plan offerings, events and even staffing needs accordingly.
We see firsthand how the app has enhanced our business, so it is rewarding to receive mobile industry accolades.  Recently, The Grove App was named official honoree for a Webby award in the mobile Lifestyle category alongside DailyCandy and Epicurious.
You can download The Grove App on the App Store or here. Follow @TheGroveLA on Twitter here.

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