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Tenant Relations have got you down?  Toolbox recommends loading its app

If general managers had to post their tenant relationship status on their mall’s Facebook page, chances are it would be, “it’s complicated”.  The pressure to attract customers and deliver sales, different takes on brand management, tight budgets, misaligned technology strategies – they can all make the daily interactions between centre teams and retailers difficult to manage, even though these people all share a common goal of increasing productivity.  The retail marketing consultants at the UK-based Toolbox Group have seen these dynamics play out for years with varying outcomes and in 2014 they came up with a way to ease the pain: the Mallcomm mobile app.

Mallcomm is a communication platform that uses smartphone technology to deliver content relevant to a center’s owners, staff, tenants and other B2B stakeholders.  In a nutshell, it turns the property into a retail community where streamlined, two-way information sharing is at the heart of daily operations.  Judging by the uptake and recent win in the Best Enterprise App category at this year’s Appster Awards in London, Mallcomm is meeting a pressing need.  “We launched the app in March 2014.  By Christmas, we had 10,000 people using the app,” noted David Fuller-Watts, Group Digital Director, adding that the platform allowed center staff to share information such as traffic and sales data efficiently, and use it to talk to tenants.

“What we love about Mallcomm is that by removing the process aspects of retailer communication, it enables us to have a more positive relationship with our retailers,” said Ian McLelland, centre director at East Kilbride shopping center, after the Appster award was announced.

“We can be more proactive as we know what information the tenants have, literally, in their hands.  It allows us to send them information that’s relevant to them and for our store staff to read it at a convenient time. “

That means no more center management barging into a store, clipboard in hand, expecting to speak to the staff when there’s a long line-up at the till.  But Mallcomm isn’t just there to deliver sales reports.  It brings tenants and people working in different departments together – from maintenance crews and security teams to customer service attendants and brand ambassadors.  Whether a store owner wants to send the cleaners a photo of some garbage that has to be picked up near the food court or a group of retailers need to be warned that the parkade entrance closest to their shops will be temporarily blocked off, the information can be relayed quickly using the app.  That kind of swift delivery is sometimes crucial.

“(Picture) a lone gunman coming into the center and the security procedures being put in place, like keeping people in the shops and locking the doors,” Fuller-Watts said. “Mallcomm offers the ability to keep the communication going during the incident.”

He sees the app working then, with security teams and other staff members using SMS and e-mail as backup, and not just for push notifications.  The same goes for job opening postings and some B2C communication.

“If (shoppers) want help, they tend to go in and ask the staff inside a store,” Fuller-Watts explained.  “On Oxford Street in London, by using Mallcomm, the staff can find the New West End Company’s nearest retail customer care person for the area using GPS technology and ask them to come into the store and help out.”  (The New West End Company supports retail in the city’s West End, as well as on Bond, Oxford and Regent streets).

The Mallcomm app use can also lead directly to retail sales.  One example Fuller-Watts recalled, involved marketers at a McDonald’s head office sending electronic vouchers to shopping center workers, with take-up rates of more than 250 a day.  Another was The Body Shop, which had 900 people read its promotional offer within 45 minutes of posting it on Mallcomm.  And one center was able to obtain 250 responses to questions that it had sent out regarding its bike-to-work program.

Toolbox Group thus far has signed up staff at 20 shopping centre in 6 countries for its communication platform, including East Kilbridge (Scotland), Meadowhall (UK), Grand Central (UK), Klepierre centers (Germany), Frolunda Torg (Sweden) and Forum Istanbul (Turkey).  For them and all 50,000 Mallcomm users worldwide, that tenants relations Facebook status has hopefully changed from complicated to something a little easier.