In order order to stay relevant today, brands and stores must be omnichannel in their approach. This means engaging consumers at all levels — online, in-store or via mobile apps. For traditional retail stores, an engaging experience is critical and consistently remains at the core of a valued customer relationship. In a recent Macy’s annual report, the legacy department store brand announced itself as an “omnichannel retail organization,” operating both retail stores and e-commerce websites. Some retailers are even changing their point of sale from the cash register to roving sales associates equipped with mobile points of sale. Nordstrom Rack recently incorporated this approach into their new store in Washington, D.C., in order to accommodate lunchtime shoppers who were faced with long checkout lines. Even though brick-and-mortar stores continue to take the lead in harnessing and retaining a customer’s loyalty, omnichannel is increasingly seen as the future for all of retail; its popularity with millennials and Generation X shoppers cannot be understated.
When I’m asked as a shopping center marketer to define omnichannel, my immediate response is that it is hard to define an experience, and in theory, I view shopping centers adopting an omnichannel approach as an extension of the consumer experience, one that can be difficult to execute given that you only have true control over your own common area, and none over individual retailer space. However, we can assist in defining the overall experience, and utilize signature events and digital and social media programming to make it whole. The availability of digital and social media marketing has cemented our ability to promote our individual shopping center brands to consumers 24 hours a day. By cultivating a defined, engaged audience, shopping centers can successfully integrate messaging both from their individual retailers and the mall brand.
Madison Marquette centers continue to expand their social media marketing efforts in their business-to-consumer communications strategy. A recent Valentine’s Day promotion at Mercato in Naples, Fla., titled “Hearts Desire” was promoted via Instagram, Facebook, the property website, on-site center signage, at retailer POS and print advertisements (tagged with QSR codes). Mercato was targeting the growing younger demographic that was migrating to the center with the recent new apparel and food offerings. While visiting Mercato, customers snapped a photo of a product “of their desire” and posted it to Instagram with promotion specific hashtags. Culminating in a rise of unique property visits and a nearly 100 percent increase in followers, Mercato’s standout campaign aimed to influence their customers’ behaviors by connecting with them on all fronts (digital, mobile and on-property). Facebook and Twitter are almost old hand as centers are increasingly experimenting with high-tech digital ads on new marketing platforms. These platforms are equipped to sift through mountains of data to help raise the awareness of brand and retailer-targeted buys. New advertising approaches by Twitter ("Promoted Tweets") and Pinterest (“Gift Feeds”) will be changing the game, as well. Successful marketers will diligently watch this space evolve as technology forges ahead into the 21st century.
— Robyn Marano is the Vice President of Marketing for Madison Marquette Retail Services (MMRS) and can be reached at
. MMRS is a premier national real estate development, leasing and management firm specializing in infill, mixed-use, community and specialty retail properties.