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Mall developer Starwood offers time-sensitive mobile deals to build traffic

Starwood Retail Partners is bringing an in-mall mobile application that offers consumers immediate deals to 10 mall properties throughout the United States to drive more transactions at bricks-and-mortar stores.

The StepsAway app brings malls and retailers together to drive in-store sales by offering retailers time-sensitive opportunities to influence purchases in traditional outlets. The Starwood-StepsAway deal points to how mall developers are increasingly leveraging retail technologies to influence consumer decisions while retailers embrace omnichannel marketing strategies.

“Our usage data has shown that shoppers are very interested in using mobile-driven offers to enhance their shopping experiences while onsite at malls,” said Allan Haims, CEO of StepsAway.

“And while many prefer not to download native apps, our browser-based StepsAway app is accessible via the mall’s free Wi-Fi network and requires no download.

“Consumers can access the deals they want on their smartphones without downloading anything,” he said.

Expanding use
GNC and Things Remembered, which joined forces with StepsAway last fall, will expand usage of the platform with the addition of Starwood’s mall properties.

Sephora offering in-store makeovers with StepsAway.

Participating shopping centers are in California, North Carolina, Texas, Florida, Ohio and Virginia.

Research shows that consumers are relying heavily on their mobile devices to help inform their bricks-and-mortar purchase decisions.

StepsAway enables retailers to share targeted offers with consumers when they are at the closest point of sale – literally steps away from store fronts at the mall – and already using their smartphones to gather shopping information.

Retailers can create time-sensitive flash sales that are valid for a short duration or offer chain-wide promotions that do not expire to drive sales.

Retailers’ corporate headquarters can micro-target specific mall properties and react to developing business trends or inventory challenges.

A recent Deloitte study about digital’s influence on in-store sales showed that consumers using digital tools before and during their in-store shopping experiences, most often on smartphones, convert at a 40 percent higher rate than those who do not engage with digital.

Additionally, 91 percent of adults have their smartphone in reach 24/7 and nearly $600 billion in-store sales are influenced by mobile devices, so there is an immense opportunity to leverage the intersection of mobile usage and purchase decisions.

In the StepsAway program, shoppers first sign onto a participating mall’s free guest Wi-Fi network and launch their mobile browser.

After accepting the terms and conditions, they are redirected to StepsAway and can peruse deals by category or retailer available in the specific mall.

They can save deals and show them to a retailer at the point of sale to redeem.

Malls are stepping up their leveraging of mobile as consumers grow more comfortable with opting in to release data in exchange for relevant, personalized experiences that streamline the shopping journey.

Last month, Mobiquity Networks’ partnership with Relevant Solutions, a provider of branded and white-label mobile applications, let any shopper with a financial institution’s app on a smartphone opt in to receive offers from brands and mall-store merchants and be prompted to pay with that particular institution’s card.

Revenue source
Besides opening an additional revenue source for banks and credit unions, the agreement let the institutions engage app users well beyond the activity of payments and account-balance inquiries.

Bringing together malls, retailers to drive sales.

“StepsAway works well with any retailer looking to attract shoppers with offers or publicizing in-store events,” Mr. Haims said. “The app offers them the ability to share deals with a captive, ready-to-buy audience who are already closeby to the store.”

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York