Shopping for a more connected experience
In 2018, Forrester predicts that customer-obsessed, data-driven retailers will thrive. That’s why General Growth Properties—an S&P 500 retail real estate company with over 120 premier mall properties across America—knew it needed to re-envision the shopping experience for its retail tenants and their customers. That meant discovering ways to merge the ease and convenience of shopping online with the immediate and personalized experience of shopping in-store.
GGP set out to enhance every step of the shopper’s journey across digital and physical touch points, from finding parking at each property to offering unique, personalized promotions—all on a user-friendly mobile app.
“I’m a firm believer that in today’s digital world, the physical space—the brick-and-mortar experience—is more important than ever.”
To realize this vision, GGP and Slalom partnered on a comprehensive, multi-year transformation that reimagined GGP’s digital presence, culminating in a new mobile app and responsive, user-friendly websites built on modern digital platforms.
Starting with why
GGP had maintained a strong digital presence for many years, but they realized their consumer platforms needed to become more dynamic to create a richer customer experience. To drive more awareness and traffic to malls and support its core B2B business, GGP needed to build a new digital practice and engage digital partners.
Consequently, work began with a complete assessment of the shopper’s journey and a guest-centric focus. A nationwide shopper survey with over 80,000 responses showed demand for improved user-friendly digital tools to help navigate the malls and quickly find the items on a shopping list. “Once we knew why we were doing it and how we were going to go about it,” says Pahel, “we sought out technology solutions that would help us solve that issue today, but also scale into the future.”
Leaning into an agile mindset
Initially, Slalom was hired to provide a shopper data strategy as part of a broader program of initiatives, including redesigning GGP’s main website, developing a mobile app, and driving customer awareness through improved digital channels. What started as a small collaboration evolved into a multi-year partnership.
As the Slalom team engaged in discovery and analysis of retail customers, they learned about the broader goals and activities of GGP’s program and surfaced new opportunities based on gaps, risks, issues, and innovative thinking. “We drove a holistic agile transformation,” says Dan Bassett, the project lead for the Slalom team.
Leaning into an agile mindset yielded quick successes for the company. “We were able to develop both a responsive website and mobile app for each of the properties that we could deliver quickly to the shoppers for that first holiday season,” says Pahel.
Designing user-friendly tools
The new digital channels were designed with the user in mind, increasing convenience and efficiency, eliminating pain points, and delivering meaningful, personalized content to the customer.
“Shoppers today are much more savvy and empowered. It’s really important for us to engage the shopper with the right messaging along that entire journey.”
We’re all familiar with the headache of wandering around the mall, hunting for a specific item. Knowing that, GGP wanted to make it easy for people to spend less time searching and more time enjoying the mall. “First of all, we just wanted to show empathy,” says Pahel.
Looking for a white Oxford shirt, a new pair of sneakers for kids, or a brand of blue jeans? Now shoppers can find specific items mall-wide by searching for a brand or SKU number in the website or mobile app. A quick search reveals the stores that are likely to carry the items they need.
GGP’s handy, in-app wayfinding system plots out the optimal route for all the stores on their shopping list. Shoppers can even place a pin in the digital map so there’s no trouble navigating back to their cars. “It’s directionally good advice,” Pahel says—and good business.
GGP’s new digital platforms enhance the shopper experience and drive awareness to its retail tenants. Personalized features extend a shopper’s on-property time by locating nearby friends or connecting easily to in-mall amenities like movie theaters and restaurants.
With Slalom’s help, GGP got the new digital platforms up fast. Black Friday historically had been a major infrastructure challenge, so one of GGP’s goals was to be better prepared before Black Friday 2016. The new platform’s more reliable, scalable infrastructure easily managed the holiday surge of traffic to its websites and apps. There were 12,000 app downloads the week that the app launched—and no technical glitches.
Ready for the future
Slalom continues to be engaged as a strategic partner to define and deliver innovative digital solutions with the GGP digital marketing team. “This is a partnership founded on trust,” says Bassett. “We challenged each other’s thinking to deliver more, better, and faster.”
Best of all, GGP is ready to the meet the needs of their shoppers now and scale for the future. They’ve even adopted agile mindsets and processes for other projects. “The best way for organizations today to future-proof is through presence and readiness for change,” says Pahel.
“Together with the Slalom team, we’ve been very successful in readying ourselves for the only guarantee — which is change— and in really leveraging the digital and technology aspect to bolster the shopper experience within our properties.”