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Landlords Going High-Tech In Bid To Lure Shoppers



The new technologies that some landlords are investing help to solve some of the age-old problems that visitors to malls can face.
It seems that nearly every day another story comes out relating to prominent retailers employing new technological means in a bid to entice shoppers to visit their establishments. According to the Wall Street Journal, landlords are joining in as well and employing a host of high-tech methods as a means to increase foot traffic.

In addition to the belief that tech enhancements will help bring more shoppers through the door, landlords also have an eye towards increased leverage in lease negotiations with prospective and renewing tenants. General Growth Properties CEO Sandeep Mathrani shared some thoughts on the matter. 
“What differentiates GGP is the ability to make this kind of investment so that we have the best mousetrap in the market,” he told WSJ.

The new technologies that some landlords are investing help to solve some of the age-old problems that visitors to malls can face. Namely, how can I find a parking space in this crowded lot and where is my car when I leave? How do I get around the mall more efficiently? What stores are offering sales today? Chances are there’s technology that will help answer these common questions – and if not, it’s likely on the way.

One company that is providing some of these new tech features to landlords is Toronto-based Jibestream. The tech firm creates interactive mall guides for consumers to use while shopping, as well as assistance with parking, all from the comfort and convenience of the consumers’ mobile device. Both GGP and Westfield have rolled out the firm’s technology in hundreds of their holdings. Jibestream CEO Chris Wiegand shared some of the features his firm is bringing to the table and what the future may hold. 

“When driverless cars are available, how will they find your mall and how will they find parking? We’ll integrate mapping with the real-time parking system and make sure where we’re guiding people is closest to where they are going inside the mall,” he said.

The race for tech-friendly environments has even spurred some of the big players to invest and develop their own technology teams, including Simon Venture Group, the venture capital arm of Simon Property Group, which invests in retail technology. Westfield has been very engaged with the benefits of technology enhancements throughout their properties, and created its own Westfield Labs in 2012 to better understand how to embed digital technology.

The race to become tech-friendly amongst competing retailers and property owners can sometimes feel like an arms race. In the long run, proven technologies that resonate with consumers will become standard practice, and the race for the next big thing will focus its attention elsewhere. Landlords and retailers don’t have to be first to market to win the race, but they would be wise to focus their investments on the products that have a proven impact on customer counts and sales per square foot. 

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