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Simon Malls, eBay leverage mobile for connected shopping mall

Simon Malls and eBay have teamed up for a connected shopping mall experience that offers holiday consumers an interactive directory, personalized deals and point-to-point navigation on mobile devices in an effort to boost holiday sales.

The “Connected Mall” experience has been incorporated at Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, California and aims to drive more in-store traffic during the critical holiday shopping season for retailers. The two brands will collect customer feedback to improve features designed for a seamless visit, which include 3D mall maps and handicap features.

“At this point all major retailers should have iBeacon related initiatives on their mobile roadmap and part of their customer engagement strategy,” said Paul Alvarez, vice president of sales and business development at Atimi, Vancouver, Canada. “The ability to drive store traffic, provide a better customer experience, send relevant push notifications,  and track in-store activity is all too valuable to ignore.”

Digital features
The smart directory, which was developed by eBay, leverages a 72-inch LCD touchscreen viewable in direct sunlight. Mall maps, which are accessible in 3D views, provide shoppers with accurate orientation to their location to make the mall navigation process more streamlined for the busy shopper.

Once consumers select a specific store or service they would like to visit, the interactive map displays its location and the easiest route to get there. Mobile device users can have these directions sent to their smartphones and can follow the path to their store of choice.

“Having the ability to use directions to ‘get in and get out’ quickly will be a real value-add,” Mr. Alvarez said. “Especially if they are only going to the mall for a specific store or searching for a particular item.”

The digital directory also allows visitors to browse the map, services, events and store offers and provide easy searching functionalities with touch-sensitive categories such as services, retail, restroom and food.

A “today” button on the display showcases deals and events happening on that specific day, while a handicap feature allows the user to shift the menu and map’s orientation, providing for a more accessible experience.

Connected glass shopping
The “Connected Mall” Experience is the latest expansion of eBay’s connected glass shopping technology which first launched in selected New York storefronts in 2013. The shoppable window displays allow customers to browse items on screens measuring approximately nine feet across and enable purchased products to be delivered to the customer within an hour by messenger.

EBay is increasingly looking to work with more top retailers on reaching a wider audience of mobile and online shoppers. The ecommerce company also set up connected glass screens in San Francisco’s Westfield shopping center last year and offered about 100 items from brands including Rebecca Minkoff and Sony.

The screens collect valuable data for retailers, such as reactions to the displays, amount of consumers touching the screen, authentication and traffic impressions. In return, eBay receives a small portion of the sales.

For brands that are undergoing construction on storefronts in malls, connected glass shopping offers an innovative way of keeping a physical and digital footprint in the mall even during renovations. EBay is also making plans to incorporate the displays into existing physical stores.

“The digital offerings sound like they will deliver value to all shoppers, such as personalized offers and deals for the savvy shoppers, value added mall events, pushing directions to mobile for the ‘get in & get out’ directions with 3D view for the shopper in a rush,” Mr. Alvarez said. “And at the very least, the basics regarding locations of refreshments and restrooms for everyone else.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York