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DDR shopping centers launch location-based SMS program to drive in-store sales

The operator of 538 shopping centers is giving retailers a way to send special offers and promotions to shoppers who are nearby as a way drive sales.

The new DDR Corp. program called ValuText uses text messaging, location-based data and geo-fencing to allow shoppers to connect with retailers as they enter the shopping center. The company created the program as an alternative to Groupon for the small retail tenants in its shopping centers.

“The real beauty of ValuText is that it’s providing an alternative, cutting-edge way to advertise for ‘the little guy’ – the small retailers that don’t have the advertising budgets that national retailers do,” said John S. Kokinchak, senior executive vice president and chief administrative officer of DDR, Beachwood, OH.

“Many small retailers have tried to use Groupon to increase foot traffic, and have gotten burned in the process because of the large cut that Groupon gets, and/or the swell in traffic is too great for the store to handle,” he said.

“DDR created ValuText as a way to keep brick-and-mortar stores alive across the United States. DDR believes this is going to be a game-changer for the mobile marketing scene and retail in general.”

Geo-fencing technology
DDR worked with Cohn Marketing to indentify a solution that would drive sales and productivity for the stores in its open-air shopping centers while still being low-maintenance, cost-effective and able to meet shopper’s needs.

The two companies settled on a location-based text messaging program because it couples physical retail assets with state-of-the-art location-based mobile marketing.

From a technology standpoint, DDR partnered with Placecast to create the program.

“DDR is the first, and currently the only, retail property management company to offer large-scale location-based mobile marketing in the U.S.,” Mr. Kokinchak said.

The ValuText program creates value for shoppers by providing timely information at the point of purchase – the shopping center.

Shoppers who opt-in to the program will receive immediate offers from retailers within a designated shopping center via text message once they enter a predefined, virtual space established around the shopping centers.

Some offers can be redeemed via the customer’s mobile device. The program also alerts shoppers to in-store promotions.

Geo-fencing technology is compatible with 92 percent of U.S. mobile phones, according to DDR, enabling the program to reach a broad audience.

ValuText is promoted through various on-site signage such as A-frames, campaign sign, bag stuffers, elevator and window clings, posters, parking signs, as well as through a hyper local email campaign.

DDR owns and operates open-air value-oriented shopping centers in 41 states, Puerto Rico and Brazil. Retail tenants include Target, Office Max, BJ’s Wholesale Club and other national retail brands.

“DDR’s goal is to provide all retailers, but especially the smaller shop tenants, added value,” Mr. Kokinchak said. “The program was designed to demonstrate its commitment to helping them succeed.

“Additionally using technology to support brick and mortar retail, DDR supports its overall leasing efforts by creating goodwill with existing tenants, helping renew leases and signing on new retailers,” he said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York