One of the most important lessons the retail real estate industry can learn from the pandemic is to recognise the importance of omnichannel and big data. Investing in digital solutions can provide a competitive advantage and better results for both landlords and tenants. Multi Corporation constantly evaluates and introduces technological innovations, not only for themselves but because prop-tech in the management of real estate assets has become an important factor in determining the valuation of the property.
Multi Corporation, as one of the largest companies managing commercial real estate assets in Europe, implements solutions that respond to the challenges arising from the development of e-commerce and changes in consumer purchasing behaviour. At the same time, It completely digitises operational processes: revenue management, communication between the centre management with tenants, technical procedures, documentation management, footfall, tenant-tenant relations, project management and facility management. “That is why it is so important to integrate digital tools with physical space design to improve consumer experience and relations with tenants,” said Magdalena Gibney, Operations Director at Multi Poland.
Apps for customers
The pandemic has only accelerated the changes in consumer habits related to e-commerce, which have been observed for several years. However, instead of being seen as something which replaces traditional, physical retail, digitalisation should be seen as a tool that supports brick-and-mortar retail. The research of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) demonstrates that having a network of brick-and-mortar stores increases customer traffic in online stores: bricks drive clicks. This means that stores will continue to play an important role in the daily choices of consumers and, importantly, shape their brand-specific experience, even when the purchase transaction itself is more frequently executed through the e-commerce channel. Consequently, for several years, Multi has been developing and testing new innovative solutions aimed at facilitating the customer journey and increasing the quality of consumer purchasing experiences.
A good example would be the consumer applications implemented in shopping centres managed by Multi in Europe. The mechanisms used in applications are based on integration with payment cards, with which the customer can, for example, automatically calculate points for purchases made in the centre. As a result, the customer no longer has to scan receipts, register them manually or show them at the checkout. The applications also automatically notify customers about obtaining a certain loyalty threshold sufficient to receive a reward, as well as special offers and discounts exclusively available to its members.
Apps for tenants
Forum Gdańsk is an excellent example of the benefits of digital solutions to support tenants. The “Forum by Multi” application service, used by 95 percent of tenants, was implemented at this shopping centre, giving them all of the key information in one place. It means they have access to all matters related to their services in the shopping centre: technical, security, marketing, promotion, communication and coordination of service providers. Such digitisation enables the mall management team to build a community building with its tenants and increase efficiency. It makes it possible to accommodate the business goals of an entire group of tenants. In turn, with our proprietary software “Centre Operations”, Multi can measure the quality of the relationship between the management team and tenants. This is achieved through satisfaction surveys that allow Multi to assess a variety of management aspects, such as engagement, and to identify areas in which these relations can be improved.
In a rapidly changing environment caused by the pandemic, reliable and efficient communication is essential to comply with new regulations as well as hygiene and safety standards. “Forum by Multi” helps to maintain management services at the highest level and to respond to tenants’ requirements which are constantly changing, especially when personal contact is limited. Multi’s pilot implementation of the software for servicing tenants took place in six facilities managed by Multi in Europe and resulted in the further harmonisation and standardisation of our digital solutions.
“Thanks to “Forum by Multi”, real estate management teams are also able to monitor turnover,” explains Magdalena Gibney. “The management of the centre can independently and quickly analyse key indicators influencing the performance of the asset. This proved to be particularly useful in 2020 when ongoing filtering and real-time data analysis was crucial for our entire Group to monitor how the pandemic was affecting individual locations.”
Apps for the environment
Monitoring the use of all resources is critical to understanding and improving the environmental impact of a managed commercial property, which is a pre-condition of Multi’s long term ESG strategy (Environment, Society, Governance). All ESG elements are taken into account today in the valuation of a shopping centre and significantly affect its value. Another area of digitalisation that helps to meet the business goals of property owners is systems that continuously monitor energy and water consumption, helping to achieve corporate-wide environmental goals, such as reducing carbon emissions. While moving away from paper documentation and replacing it with electronic documentation for building maintenance, financial, legal and technical procedures and communication also supports climate-friendly initiatives and optimises productivity.