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%

of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience

%

point to customer experience as an important factor in purchasing decisions

%

find a positive experience with a brand to be more influential than great advertising

– Source (SuperOffice)

Statistics published by superoffice.com show that the majority of today’s customers favour visitor experience over any other marketing device. In this case study, we look into how the UK’s leading shopping centres are harnessing technology to keep shoppers coming back. 

Can Technology Save Customer Experience for UK Shopping Centres?

Contents

1. Introduction
2. Shopping Centre Innovations
3. Intu
4. Ellandi
5. Icon at The O2 & London Designer Outlet
6. Westfield

An Introduction to UK Shopping Centres

More and more shoppers are moving online, being lured by next-day delivery and instant price comparison from the comfort of home. As a result, shopping centres have to think outside the box in order to compete with the online boom.

Shopping centres now strive to offer the one thing you can’t get on your sofa: an immersive, sensory experience. Furthermore, an experience that’s as much about the feelings and memories (or Instagram posts) as the goods you tote home in a bag. The good feelings increasingly come from more high tech places. Certainly over the antiquated beauty bars, Prosecco pop-ups and Santa’s grottos.

For example at Westfield‘s Stratford shopping centre, a futurist new Zara store has discarded the crowded racks for minimalism. Their new experience includes payment by app and pickup points manned by robotic arms. This Zara is even equipped with fairy tale mirrors that detect and identify the garments customers are holding, to help virtually assemble an outfit. Across the shopping centre, the first physical Missguided store is “on air” with flanks of monitors displaying customer-generated content.

Zara-westfield-stratford-shopping-centre

Westfield Stratford City’s new Zara customer drop off point concept.
– Source (drapersonline

Customers count on excellence from shopping centres now. They want shopping to be a fluid, fun, memorable, and affirming experience. For instance, customers expect to be free of the last-century hassles of queues, they want it all augmented with impeccable customer service.

Shopping centres have aptly responded to this with a range of tech-based services. From apps and maps to virtual reality and advanced lost property software, they’re now harnessing the skills of their visitor experience, operations, and security teams. To above all, entice and excite a new generation of discerning shoppers.

Shopping Centre Innovations  

Today, customer service in shopping centres extends beyond offering directions and gift wrapping boutiques. It’s immersive; tech focused, and made to leave a lasting impression.

So who are the big shopping centre players in the UK? Furthermore, what are they doing to revamp customer experience?

Intu

Intu, one of the UK’s largest shopping centre groups, delivers customer excellence worth talking about. Branded as “compelling shopping experiences”, their smartphone app can pepper customer with offers from retailers a few steps away. In addition, they’re now rolling out VR experiences in 14 of their 18 locations. Starting with the Victoria Centre in Nottingham, where customers can now escape from the queues into a virtual log cabin in a winter wonderland.

Intu_VR_Stats_NotLost

– Source (NotLost

Not all shopping centre tech is marketing focused, in-fact some are quietly helping to save… 

Ellandi

One of Ellandi’s “Community Shopping Centres,” The Mercury in East London has installed a walkway that converts the kinetic energy from visitor footfall, into off-grid electricity for the centre. This is also rewarding for shoppers and the community, firstly by being environmentally conscious, and secondly by benefiting regular steppers with discounts.

mercury-energy-generating-floor

– Source (Romford Recorder

Number of "footfalls" The Mercury shopping centre converts into electricity daily

ICON at The O2 & London Designer Outlet 

Some luxury shopping centres such as the new ICON Outlet at the O2 allow customers to shop without bags altogether! Customers can now choose to leave their new purchases at the tills and collect them later once ready to leave. London Designer Outlet has adopted another impressive tech solution. Bags of purchases can now materialise at your home the same day via DropIt, a store-to-door delivery service for shoppers. 

£125: Minimum spend at London Design Outlet’s retailers to qualify for free DropIt home delivery.

Westfield

Westfield operates the UK’s most lauded shopping centres (according to a recent league table from GlobalData). This sentiment is echoed by TripAdvisor reviews, giving its flagship Westfield London development 4.5 stars. Not content to rest on their laurels however, the company is already prepping for 2028 in Shepherd’s Bush and Stratford, with the Westfield Croydon currently-under-development.

Westfield shopping centre - NotLost

Here’s just some of the concepts put forward by Westfield in their 2028 initiative

  • Venetian waterways
  • Smart Loos
  • Eye recognition for personalised offers
  • Smart Changing Rooms
  • Hanging Gardens
Westfield-shopping-centre-2028-concept

Concept for Westfield’s 2028 initiative 
– Source (fashion united)

Westfield envisions the shopping centre of the next decade as a “hyper-connected micro-city”. Yes, it does sound like something out of blade runner! But, it’s all part of Westfield’s quest to deliver the best.

“An innovative and dynamic place for a new generation of consumer to shop, to eat, to meet, to be entertained and to stay.”

Westfield

Cost in £'s of new expansion of Westfield London, featuring a community oriented square

While the promised Venetian waterways and smart loos haven’t appeared yet in White City, some of the future has already arrived at Westfield shopping centres. The Westfield smartphone app allows customers to search for goods, services and create a personalised shopping plan.

This provides users with the quickest route to their “must haves”, weaving their way through the window-shopping masses. Meanwhile, at the new Westfield Square, part of the centre’s massive redevelopment, the Pavilion plays host to a bevy of free cultural events, from live music to kids’ boot camps. Above all, this makes the shopping centre a hub of more than just commerce for the community.

That concludes the first part of our look into shopping centres. Click here for part two where we discuss what the UK’s best centres are using as there customer excellence secret weapon…