A Date with Big Data: first steps into property management software for real estate investors
Retail property management is as much to do with people as it is with bricks and mortar. That’s why understanding customer buying habits in detail is needed for retail property investors and their tenants to remain profitable.
In other words, it is essential that all stakeholders involved in delivering the best possible shopping experience – investors, their venue management teams and tenants – work together to learn as much about their customers as they can. Here we look at the basic data and systems available through property management software that retail property investors should be considering now.
Detailed customer data
Big Data processed through property management software is now playing a central role in enabling investors to gain deeper insight into the needs of customers, and use the data to improve the performance of their retail properties.
Knowledge of the demographics of the surrounding area, for example, can indicate the type of customers who may visit a shopping mall and inform which facilities are needed. Do visitors drive, use public transport, arrive by coach as tourists, perhaps from abroad? Do they value access to mobile device charging stations, access to Wifi, or events in the common areas? What are the most important factors that could persuade customers to visit your mall rather than the one on the other side of town?
Developing these profiles takes time and should be an ongoing process. But, successful shopping venues don’t happen by accident: in a competitive market, understanding what drives profitability and what needs to be improved is fundamental for investors to improve the return on their assets.
Once visitors are within the boundaries of the shopping venue, data analytics using property management software really comes into its own for a whole host of other questions investors want answered.
As an illustration, is it better to position luxury brands together at a “high end” of the mall, or disperse them throughout the venue? What are the most and least profitable stores, and why? Identifying who is visiting the mall gives investors insight into what the ‘right’ tenant mix looks like. Ultimately, consumers decide the success or failure of every shopping venue- so it’s essential questions such as these are asked, answered and acted upon.
For a more granular view, customers can be segmented by likely age, gender and whether they come on their own or with friends, partners or their families. Time of the day will also indicate whether they are working people on their lunch break for example, whether they are parents with children or older people not in work.
Using property management software allows investors to capture this data, combine it to provide meaningful insight, and make informed business decisions about every aspect of the shopping venue.
The future of shopping
Mobile apps may also inform who customers are in more detail. Moreover, apps make two-way communication possible, allowing visitors to submit their data to qualify for offers available at the shopping venue.
According to the Fung Business Intelligence Centre: “The digital revolution has caused sweeping changes in retailing already. The most important enabling technologies in this wave of disruption will be sensors, mobile apps, cloud computing and beacons — the basic elements of the new connected retail world.”
Footfall in various areas of the venue – concourses, rest areas, zones dedicated to food and beverage consumption, cinema, bowling alley or gym – will illustrate where people tend to congregate at different times of the day, the week, in different seasons and months of the year.
With all of this data and, in addition, specific EPoS information, customer habits can be tracked and predicted using the analytics capabilities of property management software. Moreover where customers go and what they do there can be influenced.
For example a one-off sale, an in-store event, a particular promotion would be likely to draw in more visitors. Events in the open areas of the venue might attract people in a particular age-range or interest group, with stalls or other promotions targeted specifically at this type of customer.
Armed with so much information, retail investors have far more chance of preparing their offerings to meet the needs of customers visiting the shopping venue or mall.
“The property management business requires keeping track of a constant stream of information related to unique properties, landlords, and tenants,” according to Gordon James Real Estate Services. “Property management software can help you stay on top of it all and run your business efficiently.”
In retail, this means engaged and delighted customers, thriving tenants, and best-in-town shopping malls that make substantial returns on investment.
- Data comes in all shapes and sizes but it can all be applied in order to accurately profile customers
- Wide-ranging data can enable broader advertising and promotional campaigns, narrower customer data can shape in-store offers and promotions
- Armed with property management software capable of detailed data analytics, shopping venue tenants are better able to tailor their offerings to consumers
- The results should be higher store footfall, increased sales and profitability
In today’s competitive market, retail property teams must work in close partnership with their tenants. See why. Download: Future Collaboration: the new imperative for retail property investors
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