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Digitally transforming real estate’s operational management in a post-COVID world

April 8, 2021

There has never been a more challenging time for the retail industry, and commercial real estate hasn’t changed much in decades. However, in the past 15 years, retail has faced headwinds that have forced it to adapt and evolve.

The rise — and rise — of online shopping has impacted high streets and secondary shopping centers. Changing consumer behaviours and expectations have coupled with a desire for destination and experiential retail, including food-and-beverage and leisure activities. And now a global pandemic has forced populations to stay at home, retailers to close their physical stores, tenant and customer communications to switch online and businesses to digitize their day-to-day operations.

Proptech has been the biggest disrupter to the industry in decades and — over the past year, in particular — has changed the industry beyond recognition and for the better. In 2020, property owners and retailers were forced to operate their businesses remotely with very little time to prepare, all via technology.

The impact of the global pandemic and the reliance on proptech are irreversible. They have opened business to time- and cost-saving opportunities and to environmental efficiencies and will have a lasting impact on how real estate is used for work, living and play.

Necessity is the mother of invention

The luxury of long-term planning has given way to immediacy, responsiveness and resilience, and businesses must learn to adapt and thrive, particularly landlords and tenants that have had to embrace technology to operate. Their goal for technology is to refine and enhance the operational management of properties. Technology that handles the routine, everyday tasks frees employees to concentrate on more creative endeavours.

The proptech-enabled, data-driven revolution is far reaching. Sophisticated building management systems utilize sensors to capture data and analytics tools to predict occupant needs, whether for health and safety, lighting, security, elevators or heating/cooling. Proptech also provides insights about how tenants and customers use their space. As people return to work from the COVID-19 pandemic, landlords have a unique opportunity to provide tenants with such insights. Proptech also can capture and analyze sustainability data like waste production and energy consumption. As one of the biggest emitters of carbon, the retail industry is fast becoming aware of its impact. By understanding these factors better, landlords can drive toward net zero, reduce operational costs and, by avoiding dilapidation and obsolescence costs and devaluation of their assets, derive better returns.

Case study: Mall of America

Mall of America is the largest retail and entertainment destination in the U.S. With more than 5.6 million square feet to manage and over 520 retailers to communicate and build relationships with, it aimed to use technology to deliver efficiencies, build communities and streamline communications and operational management. Mall of America faced several communications and management challenges, particularly around sharing vital information with so many tenants. Mallcomm developed and tailored technology for Mall of America that improved communication efficiency, customized communications, stored and managed information, provided a single point of communication, increased sales and supported recruitment. Testament to the management of the rollout was a 99 percent adoption rate among tenants. Mall of America’s partnership with Mallcomm allows it to empower tenants and to build an even more efficient and successful future.

Proptech like Mallcomm is revolutionizing retail real estate. To learn more about Digital Transformation and Tenant Experience in post-COVID retail, you can register to attend our ICSC Connect Virtual Series webinar on the subject here.