Last week (March 23) Advertising Age published an article about "smart malls," like the new Fashion District at Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, N.J.
The mall has a half dozen seven-foot-tall touchscreens (pictured above). "The larger-than-life displays have games, movie trailers, retailer catalogs, interactive directories and other applications," wrote AdAge's Ashley Rodriguez. "The digital storefronts are among the latest efforts from Westfield Labs, an innovative digital arm of the high-end mall operator, aimed at drawing more traffic to malls and keeping them there."
Westfield's digital storefronts are designed to draw more traffic to malls and keep people there.
Of course, putting all of this information at shoppers' fingertips opens up all kinds of data capture and analysis opportunities. Free Wi-Fi, for example, allows malls to monitor traffic. "The networks show where shoppers are from, how frequently they visit, how long they stay and offer a means of communicating through basic information collected upon log-in, like a ZIP code or email address," Rodriguez writes. "Search histories also provide a snapshot of shopper habits."
Limitations to Wi-Fi data, however, include not being able to distinguish between regular mallgoers and mall employees.
Beyond Wi-Fi and physical touchscreens, Westfield also has an app, launched in August 2014, which offers a more personalized experience with each visit. It tracks what users search in terms of stores, products, deals and maps in order to push personalized offers and promotions to them.
With touchscreens and apps, brick-and-mortar retailers and malls are tracking behaviors e-commerce providers have tracked all along.
We've blogged about this kind of thing in the past -- essentially it's in-store retailers (and malls, in this case) tracking behaviors e-commerce providers have tracked online since the beginning.
In an unrelated story, IBM announced yesterday (March 31) it is investing $3 billion to build an "Internet of Things" division to harness the massive trove of data collected by smartphones, tablets, connected vehicles and appliances with the goal of helping companies better manage their business.
"IBM estimates that 90 per cent of all data generated by mobile and 'smart' devices is never analyzed," wrote the Associated Press. "The Armonk, New York, company hopes to change this by teaming up with companies like Twitter and the Weather Co., the owner of the Weather Channel, and developing cloud-based data services and tools for app developers."