Communicate discusses the various options of omnichannel marketing with Majid Al Futtaim’s Michelle Walsh, Senior Director for Marketing Communications for shopping malls. Walking us through the retail giant's vision of building the ultimate shopper experience through thorough consumer insights, Walsch explains how retailers can unlock the most effective omnichannel strategy.
The traditional model of shopping in malls came into play almost 70 years ago, when people didn’t have the luxury to shop from the comfort of their homes. It was a place for them to shop and connect with family and friends. Today, with the e-commerce space expanding quicker than ever, malls need to adapt to new strategies to offer a consistent buyer experience.
Consumer behavior is evolving and rapidly changing. To keep up with rising demands, retailers across the globe need to level up their marketing and response strategy. One-way retailers can do this is by offering a compelling omnichannel experience to their consumers.
While the idea of building a seamless experience through integrated channels that deliver to these ever-evolving consumer expectations has been around for years now, the strategy behind such an experience is what brings a crucial challenge for retailers across. Omnichannel is now a requirement for survival.
Earlier this month, Mall of the Emirates launched an all-new ‘Digital Concierge’ service as part of the mall’s vision to design an omnichannel experience. The service allows consumers to shop overall brands and luxury designers in the mall, entirely via WhatsApp – in the comfort of their homes.
Communicate sat down with Majid Al Futtaim’s Michelle Walsh who is the Senior Director for Marketing Communications for shopping malls to discuss the retail giant’s vision for omnichannel.
Left to right: Michelle Walsh, Senior Director for Marketing Communications for Majid-Al-Futtaim, Shopping Malls, and Fuad Sharaf at Majid Al Futtaim Properties - Managing Director, Shopping Malls, UAE
Before retailers expand their brand with an omnichannel strategy, they need to identify their drivers of value and purpose. Walsh explains how Majid Al Futtaim do the same by collecting feedback from its consumers. “In this part of the world, shopping malls are very relevant. Through research, we’ve found how a regular visitor to our malls likes to plan their visit in advance. Our digital experience offering is as important as curating a seamless offline experience.”
A deep understanding of the consumer opens the floor for retail giants such as Majid-Al-Futtaim to determine the most effective cross-channel experience allowing them to unlock benefits from multiple channels. Earlier this year, the
“With these insights, for instance, we introduced the feature that allows customers to pre-book parking spots. Also, our loyalty program – Share allows consumers to make purchases, exchanges and returns digitally. So, these are the kind of insights we gather and services we introduce to ease the consumer’s visit to our malls,” Walsh further explained.
The digital concierge employs a team of shoppers in the mall who will carry out the shopping for the consumers getting in touch with them online. “If the consumer is not in the mall, the quickest way to get a response out to him/her is through WhatsApp. While we have many other options to communicate with the shopper, we opted for a conversational commerce approach,” she adds.
According to a recent study, retailers need to investigate consumer behavioral patterns across various essential issues such as – personalization or customization of the omnichannel retail mix, classification and detailed profiling of shoppers according to the intensity of using omnichannel practices, and even the store selection criteria. That’s where the idea of the concierge service comes from.
Walsh explains, “we are giving multiple access points to our consumers from across multiple brands. A consumer might be looking for purchases from Zara and Chanel at the same time, that’s what the concierge allows users to do while accessing various options – whether that maybe ordering, returning, trying it out before making a buy, etc.”
It’s crucial that retailers are notifying their consumers with relevant updates. “We’re putting time and effort into curating consumer profiles so that we know more about them and are communicating accordingly. Moreover, we’re providing them a personalized experience which keeps the consumer dedicated to finding out more about us,” explains Walsh.
With Black Friday hitting the headlines, we asked Walsh how retailers can stand out and use omnichannel to their leverage, “What we try to do is give people the option to plan to come to the mall. Since Black Friday will be a busy weekend, we allow the shopper to reserve car parking. Moreover, all the discounts available on the ground, in the mall will be available online. The digital concierge experience will open the floor for shoppers who want to shop online. Black Friday is a celebration of shopping, and making it as convenient as possible for people to access the deals and offers is a goal all retailers should strive to achieve.”
Retailers need to determine where important interactions intersect, this can help start building out functionalities in line with the channels of customer choice, making sure information flows freely across those channels to enable a personalized omnichannel experience.