Thought leadership

360° Digitisation in Shopping Centres: 4 Key Takeaways from our webinar.

Discover the transformative insights from Chainels' webinar on 360° Digitisation in Shopping Centres. Experts Simon Staack, Ula Matej-Bil, and Sander Verseput delve into key trends reshaping retail, emphasising data-driven strategies and the integration of B2C and B2B aspects through platforms like Chainels and Emplate. Explore the imperative for continuous dialogue and the impact on shopper and tenant experiences in today's dynamic retail landscape.

On February 15th, Chainels hosted a webinar called 360° Digitisation in Shopping Centres: Elevating Shopper and tenant experience with technology. The webinar brought together an expert panel of industry experts.

  • Simon Staack—With an engineering background and an innate drive for action, Simon Staack is a dynamic force in the realm of shopping centre innovation, serving as the co-founder and managing director of Emplate.

  • Urzsula Matej-Bil—A seasoned expert with over 15 years of comprehensive experience spanning various industries including real estate, retail, finance, technology, and more. Notably, she has played a pivotal role in managing the external and internal communications for EPP, Poland's largest asset manager of retail real estate.

  • Sander Verseput—Alongside CEO Erwin Buckers, Sander established Chainels a decade ago with a vision to streamline property and asset management processes for real estate companies. Under their leadership, Chainels has rapidly expanded its footprint, serving over 500 communities across 17 countries and facilitating the digital transformation of prominent portfolios, including those of Fuzer by Amvest and Multi Corporation.

Together, the panel discussed how the modern digital landscape impacts how shopping centres operate, and how shopping centre managers can take control of multiple touchpoints both in and outside of their properties to create a shopper and tenant experience which translates into business success.

Let's look at what they talked about!

Trends changing the retail landscape

Why is 360° digitisation important in 2024? The webinar began with a discussion on the current state of the retail landscape, with Urzsula Matej-Bil offering a comprehensive analysis.

"An increasing amount of spending is being done via mobile phones," Urzsula explains. "This shift has fundamentally changed how we shop. The purchasing journey now begins well before a shopper sets foot in a physical store. It starts online, on social media platforms, forums, after encountering an ad, or engaging with influencer content. Consumers are researching products online beforehand, equipping themselves with knowledge prior to making a purchase."

Indeed, the impact of digital technology is felt from the moment a buyer expresses intent, persisting even after they enter a physical store. Studies reveal that 60% of shoppers use smartphones to gather product information while shopping in-store, underscoring the significance of a digital strategy for retailers.

"However, one aspect remains unchanged," Urzsula continues. "People still prefer the tactile experience of interacting with products and other individuals in person. Therefore, shopping malls and traditional brick-and-mortar retail will continue to hold importance in the future."

So, what implications does the prevalence of digital technology throughout the buyer journey hold for retail operators? Simon Staack sees it as an opportunity for shopping centre landlords to take control of their data.

"Landlords must now take ownership of their consumer data," Simon asserts. "Relying on platforms like Google, Facebook, and Instagram for customer relationships isn't sustainable. Establishing a direct connection with consumers, fostering one-on-one relationships that you manage, is crucial."

However, often this data is dispersed across various channels, making it challenging to track and leverage for profitable insights. This is where loyalty apps like Emplate prove invaluable for operators. They offer a centralised platform to create loyal customer bases and gather data that enables personalised experiences and incentivizes behaviour through rewards.

The importance of continuous dialogue. 

However, the value of data extends beyond consumer loyalty; it can also optimise retail asset management to directly benefit commercial tenants. While quantitative data is essential, qualitative data plays an equally critical role.

Sander Verseput, CFO and co-founder of Chainels, emphasises the importance of ongoing communication with tenants to gather information that enhances experiences for all stakeholders.

"A continuous dialogue is vital," Sander emphasises. "It's not just between tenants and landlords but also involves all service providers to create the best shopping experience possible."

Sander highlights an example from a retail client in London. Utilising Chainels' Turnover Reporting feature, they detected a decline in turnover from a specific area within the property. To understand the root causes, they gathered qualitative data from retail tenants and discovered that nearby roadworks were causing delays, negatively impacting turnover.

"Armed with this insight, the property manager initiated dialogue with the municipality, resulting in a swift resolution of the roadwork issue," Sander explains. "This timely intervention led to a noticeable increase in turnover for affected tenants within a short period. Tenants can truly serve as your eyes and ears."

Watch full webinar now 👇


Countering conventional wisdom

Technology enables the gathering of diverse data types from tenants, facilitating a deeper understanding of their needs and preferences. Consequently, platforms like Chainels aid landlords in comprehending their commercial tenants better, while apps like Emplate, which integrates with Chainels, assist tenants in understanding their consumers more effectively. This integration forms a comprehensive end-to-end platform for managing all aspects of retail management, greater than the sum of its parts.

For instance, Emplate empowers commercial tenants to understand their shoppers on an individual level through the concept of 'segment of one.' Simon explains, "Each consumer is a unique segment. Effective marketing is about understanding the needs, behaviours, and purchasing patterns of individuals, not just cohorts."

Emplate helps discern individual preferences, enabling tailored marketing efforts for greater success. Simon adds, "Identifying what's relevant, for whom, and at what times is crucial. Tailoring marketing strategies based on these parameters leads to effectiveness and impact."

When combined with Chainels, these applications epitomise the concept of 360-degree digitisation, offering comprehensive insights and tools for enhanced retail management.

How 360 digitisation looks in practice 

360-degree digitisation necessitates the integration of both B2C (business-to-consumer) and B2B (business-to-business) aspects of retail management into a single system, a capability offered by platforms like Chainels, as explained by Sander.

“There's a growing need for a tenant-facing solution that not only involves tenants but also incorporates all service providers," Sander elaborates. "They should be able to communicate directly rather than using various disjointed communication channels. It’s also crucial that this system is white-labelled, reflecting the branding of the landlord or the assets themselves.”

Chainels serves as a platform for tenants to consolidate their data and provide reliable, accurate information to their customers, such as promotions, discounts, or the latest opening hours. Additionally, gaining insights into consumer behaviour, akin to what Emplate offers, is valuable. This data can be shared with tenants, enabling them to learn and improve their businesses.

For EPP, they turned to Chainels to develop their own tenant experience app, EPP Connect, which has resulted in increased efficiency in property management.

“We acknowledge the need for adaptation, hence our focus on investing in apps, data collection, and establishing our communication channels,” says Urzsula.

“Our objective is to ensure our presence on stakeholders' and tenants’ devices in our shopping malls, and users of our office spaces. We aim to engage them through personalised communication and tailored solutions to their needs and habits, fostering loyalty through engagement, rewards, and effective communication. Our primary motivation is to enhance our performance and increase operational efficiency, particularly by improving metrics such as footfall, sales turnover in our shopping malls, and space utilisation in our office buildings.

“EPP Connect serves as a crucial tool for facilitating two-way communication with our tenants and managing our properties," Urzsula explains further. "We've streamlined our communication channels by centralising operations through EPP Connect, supporting various functions including turnover reporting. This consolidation has significantly improved our operational efficiency.


In conclusion, this webinar highlighted the profound impact of digital technology on the retail landscape and the imperative for shopping centre managers to adapt to changing consumer behaviours. 

The expert panel, comprising Simon Staack, Urzsula Matej-Bil, and Sander Verseput, emphasised the need for a comprehensive approach to digitization, integrating both B2C and B2B aspects of retail management through integrated platforms like Chainels and Emplate. 

They underscored the importance of data-driven insights in enhancing both shopper and tenant experiences, advocating for continuous dialogue and leveraging innovative tools like Emplate and EPP Connect. Ultimately, the discussion illuminated the transformative potential of 360-degree digitisation in driving business success and operational efficiency in today's dynamic retail environment.

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