New Novo Plaza app arrives in time for holiday shopping rush


Robert McLean

#cee, #proptech, #development a #architecture

Last month, CBRE and Bluehouse Capital launched an app for Novo Plaza to mark the completion of more than a year of reconstruction work. Director Iain Fanthorpe says he would usually have held a grand re-opening to get people back into the center. But with the uncertainty over large events, this didn’t make sense. Instead, after discussions with the CBRE management team, they took the decision to create what’s essentially a loyalty app for the entire shopping center.

Typically, it’s the retailers themselves that try to get their customers to sign up for these types of apps (annoyingly at the cashiers). But CBRE suggested a mall-wide application that would reward customers for spending money in one store with vouchers they could then spend anywhere else within the center. The point is to drive and redistribute the one thing that retailers really care about: turnover.

shoppingThe app had to be simple, says Fanthorpe, and it had to be as non-intrusive as possible. In the end, customers don’t have to divulge any personal identification or credit card details. Once the app is downloaded, they simply scan the receipt of an item they bought. They can then go immediately to the information desk for their voucher and spend it whenever they want. The higher the price tag, the more valuable the voucher.

Fanthorpe says that a portion of the money needed for the vouchers will come out of the center’s marketing budget. But for now, it’s primarily funded by Bluehouse itself as a way of priming the pump. “We see it as a positive cost-benefit initiative says. “A small contribution from the landlord adds more value for turnovers to tenants. So, it’s that kind of trade-off. Ultimately it comes out of our pocket but they aren’t huge sums. And customers and tenants feel they are benefitting directly.”

For Bluehouse, he says, the app is a way of demonstrating to his tenants that their landlord is thinking proactively about ways to improve the center, as well as padding their turnover. It’s the sort of thing that can potentially help smooth the edges when it’s time for lease prolongation discussions.

Data driven

But as with all apps, there’s always a data-driven aspect at the heart of things. In this case, it provides Bluehouse Capital with a window into consumer spending patterns that it currently lacks. Naturally, Fanthorpe already gets monthly revenue figures from each store. But at the moment, he has no real way of knowing what customers of his mall are buying. Now, if people are purchasing for example a lot of kitchen utensils or appliances, the team they can consider adding another store that sells them. There could also be lessons to be learned from what customers use their vouchers to purchase most often.

In fact, there’s likely to be a steep learning curve as CBRE and Bluehouse work out the best ways to use the data that gets generated. “It’s difficult to say exactly what we’re going to get out of it but the idea is that we will learn a lot more over the next 12 months about how our customers are spending then we would do just by looking at turnover data.

Just a couple of weeks into the launch, over 1,200 customers had signed up. The goal, says Fanthorpe, is to get to 3,000 before Christmas. That’s because it’s a useful platform for sending out promotions and Novo Plaza news. Additionally, the more customers are on board, the more valuable the data they produce becomes.


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