For intu, the United Kingdom's leading specialist shopping center owner, developer, and manager that boasts more than 320 million visitors at its centers annually, the consumer shopping experience is everything.
But today, that experience is shaped by intensifying expectations and new demands. Beyond retail, restaurant, and entertainment destinations, consumers now expect multi-channel experiences that fuse brick-and-mortar shopping with digital services, allowing them to buy however and whenever they want.
Intu CIO Gian Fulgoni states it simply: “Shoppers want enhanced mobility. They want fast, high-quality Wi-Fi so they can be social and connected while they shop, eat, and browse. And they want to be able to buy from the retailers they love—from home, in the store, and from their mobile devices.”
- Confident about the power of mobility, intu invested £8 million into its network backbone and multi-channel capabilities as part of its “Digital Connected” strategy.
- The strategy is a bold commitment to attracting and building stronger, more personalized relationships with mobility-inclined consumers.
- The goal is to increase the number of visits, and the time and money spent in intu's centers.
The Digital Connected Strategy
The Digital Connected strategy investment focuses on two key areas: future-proofed, center-wide, high-capacity fibre optic cabling and Wi-Fi networks; and the launch of intu.co.uk, a transactional, fashion-focused, mobile-enabled website that offers retailer promotions and high-quality editorial content.
Three core goals are driving the strategy:
- Accelerate existing processes and capabilities like click-to-collect (buy online and choose home delivery or in-center pickup) and showrooming (accessing a retailer's online catalog while in store for research and price comparison).
- Strengthen new business models like multi-channel shopping, allowing retailers to deliver end-to-end experiences that include personalized online messages and digital functionality while in store.
- Gain better mobile business intelligence about how frequently shoppers visit (in-center footfall) and how much time they spend in their centers (dwell analytics).
Based on the goal of gaining mobile business intelligence, Fulgoni and his peers made a strategic decision to own the network and Wi-Fi technology directly. They feel the investment will pay off in better customer understanding, owning the customer journey and experience, and providing value to retailers.
For example, intu's application development team is now working on offerings targeted at the customer journey and experience. These include personalized wayfinding, concierge, and promotions via the Wi-Fi network. The leasing team is also leveraging mobile business intelligence to identify high-density traffic areas and event attendance. It is then using this information to build use cases for prospective tenants to show popularity of specific locations over others.
Faith in Mobility's ROI
Fulgoni believes strongly that intu's investment in mobility has created a platform for future innovation and revenue generation. After just four months of having Wi-Fi in its centers, he points out that intu was able to grow its customer database by 25 percent from what existed in its CRM system.
- Consumer intelligence has enabled more opportunities to target footfall, dwell time, sales, and promotions.
- It has also created better interaction with consumers and more data to inform co-marketing activities with retailers.
“The enhanced intu experience will create deeper visitor engagement and loyalty,” he says. “The result of this is a stronger proposition to retailers, catering, and leisure operators that will improve the tenant mix and feed through to an improved financial outcome.”
However, embracing mobile solutions is about more than business and financial outcomes for intu. It's also viewed as the hallmark of a leader. Fulgoni points out that intu is openly embracing mobility's “disruptive” qualities, and is determined to keep pace with the evolution of shopping centers, retailers, and consumers.
“We took a bold step toward mobility and have full faith that we will see ROI over time. Ultimately, the consumer will decide where mobility takes us. But we are well positioned to shape the future of mobile shopping experiences,” says Fulgoni.