By Brianna Ahearn, contributing writer
Global mall real estate company Simon Malls recently announced the company has launched its first “Connected Mall” in Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, California. The Connected Mall is the two companies' term for an interactive directory that provides customers with information on store deals, directions mall events, and other property information. The news came via a press release distributed by Simon Malls. Standard Shopping Center currently contains 140 high end retail stores including Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom.
The installation is a departure from the traditional directories that may use interactive technology in mall spaces. Instead the Connected Mall utilizes a 72 inch HD touchscreen display that may be viewed in direct sunlight and is able to withstand any weather. Once at the screen, customers can access information regarding the mall and its retailers. For instance, when a customer approaches the screen, the 3D mall will orient the shopper showing their exact position in the mall. The maps will also show the shopper the best path to the store of their choice, then push it to their mobile phone so they can read it while en route.
The Connected Mall also works for individuals who are handicapped, with the map adjusting to any level as needed. Shoppers can browse through categories, locating current sales and categories such as locations for foods, restrooms, and mall services. The directory was developed by Ebay, and will be collecting data from shoppers who interact with the Connected Mall so retailers can bring the online experience in-store.
Both companies are excited about the prospects of the pilot program for holiday shoppers.
"Simon and the Retail Innovation Division of eBay Inc. have been working on an exclusive basis in the mall space to enhance the shopping experience and provide retailers with a new and compelling way to engage shoppers," says Mikael Thygesen, Simon's Chief Marketing Officer. "We're excited about our 'Connected Mall' initiative with eBay. It's a great example of leveraging technology in a useful, relevant way in the mall environment, and we look forward to continuing to work with eBay on future initiatives.”
Retailers, Simon and eBay benefit from the Connected Mall as well as the customers because as they provide shoppers with a pleasant in-store shopping experience, they're able to store information on shoppers' requested stores, track in-store activity, and more. Retailers will hopefully see an increase in foot traffic and in-store engagement, as customers arrive in their stores informed on the current sales and events; navigation to a store that may be located in an awkward corner of the mall will now be made easier for the consumer.
The Connected Mall is an expansion of eBay's “connected glass shopping” technology it began in 2013. A November 2013 USA Today article on the program suggested eBay would be expanding beyond their first efforts, which included shoppable windows with items from fashion company Kate Spade.