Lots of retailers have gone high-tech, introducing augmented reality, touch-screen mirrors and even robots to make shopping easier. Mall owners like Cadillac Fairview are also upping their digital game, with an aim to enhance the customer experience.
The company is launching a new indoor navigation platform, accessed through the CF Shop app, at CF Fairview Mall in north Toronto. Developed by Toronto-based startup Aislelabs, the platform uses blue-dot wayfinding—similar to the blue dot on a GPS roadmap—to help shoppers find their way around the mall.
“We continue to see through research that while customers want to see interesting and innovative things that they’ve never seen before when they’re in a shopping centre, they also want to have basics,” said Jason Anderson, senior vice-president of marketing at Cadillac Fairview. And one of the basics in the shopping experience is being able to easily find stores, without having to track down a mall directory.
The technology uses combination of wifi and Bluetooth beacons for triangulation, and allows shoppers to locate their position, view maps and get turn-by-turn directions. “That in the past has been very difficult to do in the shopping centre because of a multi-level environment,” said Anderson. With other navigation solutions, “it’s hard to tell if you’re on the first floor or the second floor, so we’ve used new technologies that allow the app to know which level of the shopping centre you’re on.”
CF Fairview will serve as a test location for the platform before Cadillac Fairview rolls it out to other properties. “CF Fairview has great traffic at around 15 million a year and it’s a multi-level shopping centre, so we felt that was a great first move to try this out,” said Anderson.
Cadillac Fairview is also upgrading its wifi offering at all 20 properties, with faster connection speeds and easy-to-use access. The new platform, also offered by Aislelabs, lets guests log in with their social accounts, and use one-click sign in. Shoppers using the free wifi will only need to sign in once, as they will be auto-connected to the internet during every visit.
In addition, Cadillac Fairview also rolling out its text concierge service, CF Shop Text, to all its retail properties after testing it at eight shopping centres. Anderson said shoppers can text a question, from something simple like “Where is Aritzia?” to “What is the hot colour this fall?” and receive an answer in under two minutes.
“Customers love it,” said Anderson. “It’s the advantage of being able to ask a live person a question from anywhere in the shopping centre, as opposed to having to find a directory or guest services, and then walk across the mall to ask your question.”
Anderson said the new digital offerings are part of a broader strategy to offer “best-in-class” shopping across the country, as the company invests billions in property revitalizations and developments.
“We continue to invest to deliver a premium shopping experience… and digital is a significant part of that because it’s such a significant part of our shoppers’ lives,” said Anderson.