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strategy has resulted in the introduction of digital marketing tools and techniques. In the past 12 months Meadowhall has

introduced several new marketing platforms including a QR ‘virtual boutique’ and Tweet mirrors: “Some of these platforms we put on over the past 12 months wouldn’t have been appropriate five, if not two years ago, but today are an integral part of our thinking to engage shoppers as part of a wider and more encompassing strategy,” he explains. “Marketing today is as key as ever but it has grown up. Shoppers are more sophisticated.” It’s this new level of sophistication that

has sometimes landed digital platforms in deep water over privacy issues. “Proximity marketing can be viewed as slightly intrusive,”

their location giving companies a direct and personalised communication channel. The tool, which can be added to a shopping centre’s existing app, communicates with people in specific, pre-defined areas by picking up audio signals from specially-installed emitters and delivering highly-personalised messages and offers to their smartphones via an app. “Proximity marketing should be all about

context,” says Concept Reply partner, Luigi Cicchese. “It’s a way of pushing information but if done properly, it shouldn’t be confused with spam. It’s relevant, not generic, so it’s a highly personalised service.” Emitters, which have a limited range and can encompass an entire shopping centre or

Cicchese gives Tesco as an example:

“You might send out a message saying ‘come to us between 3-4pm to recieved a special discount’ or ‘you’ll find an offer in aisle 5’. “It gives you access to extremely

powerful information,” he explains. “How long does it normally take to measure success after a coupon campaign? You’ve got to plan the offer, deliver it, wait for it to be redeemed and then rely on retailers to tell you how successful it was. With HI Shop, you can put a coupon out today for use immediately without people having to print it out and you recieve immediate feedback once it’s redeemed.”

It has been used as an audio guide in a

Pisa art gallery. People download the app at home, or once at the venue, and when they get to a particular area or painting it automatically unlocks the relevent information, available either to read along with images, or as an audio file. The app has also been designed to push a coupon once visitors get to the giftstore to drive sales. While HI Shop isn’t being used in shopping

centres yet, it’s a market Concept Reply is actively pursuing. “It’s about the first stimulus to buy – taking the customer by the hand, leading them on a journey and rewarding them, giving added value both to the consumer and to the brand. It’s a transparent channel of communication allowing you to target the people you want to exactly without being intrusive and it’s cost effective because the price depends on reach – the sky’s the limit.” For Meadowhall, 2013 will see the team

explains Hunt. “Bluetooth has been used to ping messages to people without them necessarily asking for them – we need to move towards something that requires an action from the customer so we only send messages to people who want them.”

PROXIMITY MARKETING Proximity marketing has been around for several years but as Hunt suggests it had fallen out of favour after criticism of its often intrusive nature. But there’s a new tool on the block that aims to change all that, sending messages only to those who want them while giving businesses all the benefits of location-based marketing. HI Shop is a new proximity marketing application developed by digital marketing specialist, Concept Reply, which allows consumers to receive information relevant to

certain areas, down to individual shops, give off sounds that are inaudible to humans but can be picked up by smartphones to push messages and offers to people’s phones relevant to their location but, crucially, only if they want them – shoppers will only recieve information if they choose to open the relevant app once in the venue. Messages are sent out to a standard of

three or a maximum of 12 pre-configured target groups, or ‘clusters’, taken from the centre’s own database. These could include women aged between 40-50, married men or certain ethnicities. And messages can be sent more than once a day to capture certain shoppers – there might be a deal on nappies in the morning and a wine offer in the evening, for example. Or it could be used to draw people into the centre at a certain time, or to encourage people to visit a certain area.

exploring avenues across their platforms to capitalise on an increasingly virtual shopping experience driven by mobile technologies. “By the end of 2013 it is thought that

more consumers will make purchases via their mobile phones than their credit card, and it is therefore crucial that we acknowledge the importance of these new technologies when we look at our current facilities,” stresses Pearce. “Shopping centres are often ahead of

shoppers because we’re trying to push boundaries on the marketing side but the adoption rate might be lower than it needs to be to get critical mass,” concludes Hunt. “In the next few years, they’ll be more viable options.”

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