Shopping centre app benefits customers and retailers
The new mobile application introduced at Forum and Ratina was developed based on customer wishes. The application makes it easier to navigate around the shopping centres and gives users access to special offers. For retailers, the app provides a fast communication channel.
The number of mobile applications that make consumers’ lives easier has increased rapidly in recent years. The use of “apps” has now spread to shopping centres.
Two Sponda-owned shopping centres – Forum in Helsinki and Ratina in Tampere – have joined the first wave of exploiting the opportunities of mobile communication.
According to Forum’s Shopping Centre Manager Katja Hatakka, the signal to introduce an app came from the shopping centre’s customers.
“Consumer surveys have shown that our customers want more information on current topics at Forum, such as events and new shops. The app allows us to deliver the latest news and special offers directly into the customer’s pocket,” Hatakka says.
Special benefits available on your phone
The mobile app helps customers get to know the shopping centre’s shops and services, upcoming events and the latest customer benefits.
“The 3D map on the app shows customers the shortest route to the shop they want to visit.”
Customers also receive guidance on how to use the shopping centre. For example, the Forum app features a 3D map that shows customers the shortest route to the shop they want to visit.
A similar 3D map is in development for the Ratina app.
“The app is an information channel, but it is also a way to deliver benefits to our customers. The special offers featured on our website are also highlighted in the app. The app also provides access to special benefits aimed exclusively at our registered customers. You could say that the app replaces the traditional customer loyalty card,” Hatakka explains.
At the Ratina shopping centre, which opened its doors in Tampere in April, the app was launched in late summer.
According to Shopping Centre Manager Mervi Ahola, Ratina’s website was built first and the development of the mobile app followed.
“The app gives access to the same information content as our website. The same IT partner delivered both solutions, so the app and the website work seamlessly together. For example, an update to the website will be immediately reflected in the app,” Ahola says.
Ratina has not yet had time to make a big marketing push for the app.
Nevertheless, Ahola believes the easy-to-use app will quickly be embraced by a growing number of customers, as it improves the accessibility of information and makes it easier to shop and use other services at the shopping centre.
“When customers download the app, they can also subscribe to our Friends of Ratina newsletter. They can choose the topics and product categories they are interested in. Their choices determine what special offers are displayed in the mobile app,” Ahola explains.
Quicker customer communication
For the shopping centre and its retail tenants, the app provides a quick, convenient and cost-efficient tool for communicating with customers.
“The need for shops to produce promotional materials printed on paper is reduced.”
“The need for shops and the shopping centre to produce promotional materials printed on paper is reduced, which generates cost savings and reduces the environmental impact. Special offers and campaigns can be communicated to customers immediately, without having to wait for printing,” Ahola adds.
The app replaces plastic employee ID cards
The shopping centre app is not intended only for use by customers.
The Forum and Ratina apps also serve as the shopping centres’ employee ID cards. Digital cards are easier to manage. Access privileges can be easily updated in response to changes involving employees.
“The plastic employee ID cards of 2,000 people working at this shopping centre have been replaced by digital cards on the app. This also benefits the environment in a small way,” Hatakka says.
“The app also serves as an employee ID card for the shopping centres.”
Today’s mobile apps and software are characterised by rapid development, and the Forum and Ratina shopping centre apps are no exception.
“We actively listen to our customers’ experiences and we develop the app and its content based on the feedback we receive. In the future, we can also use the app to deliver customer benefits offered by Forum’s partners,” Hatakka adds.
Consumer benefits of the Forum and Ratina customer apps
- Makes shopping centre information easily accessible
- The latest special offers and coupons are always with you
- Replaces separate customer loyalty cards
- Makes it easier to navigate around the shopping centre (3D map)
Retailer benefits of the Forum and Ratina customer apps
- Improves customer service
- An easy and quick channel for reaching customers
- Convenient to update
- Replaces employee ID cards
- Reduces the need for printed materials and plastic customer loyalty cards
The Forum and Ratina mobile apps are available for Apple devices on the App Store and Android devices on Google Play. When the app has been downloaded, the user is prompted to register. The app is then ready to use.