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Small Business Center

3 Marketing Tips for a Thriving Shopping Center

October 5, 2021

By Eric Brandt, 5th Gear Marketing

Today, what consumers want more than anything else is convenience. They expect businesses to anticipate their needs and do everything they can to meet those expectations. What’s more? They want all this before they ever even set foot in a store.

Attracting the right customers requires more than simply considering the tenant mix needed for a specific customer base. Shopping center owners must also be conscious of what attractive services they can offer to make properties more competitive.

So how can centers stay competitive today? Simply put, you must be willing to adapt. How, you ask? Taking advantage of digital opportunities like local optimization, engaging social media to bring attention to your center while supporting your tenants, keeping traffic flow considerations in mind and more can all help.

Read on to learn what you need to know so you can sustain and grow your shopping center. Doing so can make your tenants more competitive and reduce turnover, even during difficult times like a down economy or skyrocketing real estate prices. The brands and businesses that are ready and willing to embrace market trends and shifts will have an advantage over the competition.

1. Invest in local search

According to a recent study by Invoca, more than 80% of customers do research online before they head out to shop. As a result, businesses wanting to remain competitive in the modern era must have strong online presences that can be achieved through local optimization efforts. Your own efforts for local search can make your center a well-known destination, a hot-spot attraction that has buzz so customers want to be there. That’s a huge selling point for your physical spaces.

2. Recognize — and accept — that consumer behavior has changed.

In the past five years, many consumers — dare we say most? — have drastically changed their shopping and buying behaviors. A perfect example: Look at how shoppers now even just find the products and services they’re looking for. Leading into the 2020 holiday season, searches for “curbside pickup” and “along my route” had skyrocketed by 1,000% and 3,000% year over year, respectively.

This change in search patterns reinforces the idea that we’re seeing a massive paradigm shift in overall consumer behavior. Brands are having to quickly come to terms with the idea that this shifting buying behavior is now a given.

Attract tenants by highlighting any of the following that your center has to offer, all of which will make life — and selling — that much easier.

  • ample parking
  • easy access to building and store entrances
  • great traffic flow to accommodate curbside pickup for buy-online-pick-up-in-store

The No. 1 goal needs to be: Brands in every industry must make every part of the buying process more convenient to customers. Helping your tenants be able to offer this to their customers is a win-win.

3. Use social media to your advantage. Hint: It isn’t just for your tenants.

Social. It’s a non-negotiable these days. It takes more than just having a great physical space to attract retail tenants. You also must create and maintain your virtual space. More than 90% of people buy products and services from brands they follow on social media. The stores that rent from you will undoubtedly have strong social media presences, and you should, too.
From the brands’ perspectives, access to billions of people across various social media platforms every day makes the effort they put into their social channels worth the time. The same can be said for shopping centers themselves. And keep in mind, you don’t necessarily need to have a strong social profile on every platform to see a positive impact. Ad spends on the right platform, at the right time and targeting the right people can attract.
Caveat: To be successful using social media, it’s important to do market research and competitive analysis to figure out where, when and how to use channels the best way. Once that research is complete, you’re ready to start promoting your shopping center.

Prepare for the future

It’s not far-fetched to say that retail tends to be one industry particularly hard hit during tough economic times. To sustain a successful shopping center, you — just like the brands that will fill your spaces — need to meet the rising expectations of customers. Like all business ventures, those business owners who embrace change are the ones who’ll survive. This can mean increasing local visibility, staying up with ever-changing trends or committing to an effective social strategy.

This article originally appeared at https://5thgearmarketing.com/blog.

Small Business Center

ICSC champions small and emerging businesses in getting from business plan to brick-and-mortar.

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