Retail

“It’s multiple solutions in one tool”. Here’s how Chainels contributed to Wereldhave’s customer-centric strategy

Discover Wereldhave, the oldest listed real estate company in the Netherlands, pioneering the future of retail with their Full Service Centres. Learn about their innovative LifeCentral strategy, collaboration with Chainels, and focus on tenant satisfaction and ESG practices. Hear from Wereldhave employees about their vision for retail's future and how they're reshaping the shopping experience.

Meet Wereldhave, the oldest listed real estate company in the Netherlands with a history spanning over 90 years and an inspiring vision for the future of retail. They own and manage a portfolio of Full Service Centres in the Netherlands, Belgium and France.

They were one of Chainels’ first clients, and our collaboration spans over 9 years. They use our tenant experience platform in 21 assets across The Netherlands and Belgium.

One thing that sets Wereldhave apart from their counterparts is their swift and agile adaptation to the fast-changing commercial real estate environment.

We spoke with two Wereldhave employees, Rik Janssen, Head of Marketing and Marvin de Roode, Asset Manager, about their LifeCentral strategy, what it means for their assets and the role that technology and digitisation has to play in facilitating those changes. 

From traditional shopping destinations to Full Service Centres

A lot changed in 2020. But for Wereldhave, that tumultuous year brought about a shift in strategy, and a new vision of what shopping centres could be.

They started by adopting a truly customer-centric approach, observing people's everyday lives and distilling this down to a few key customer needs. Combining these needs with what’s possible in shopping centres, provided a framework for making the centres more relevant by expanding their mixed-use offering.

“We analysed the everyday life of visitors and non-visitors to our centres,” says Rik. “It turned out that we were quite good at offering the consumer basics: fashion, shoes, electronics, accessories, and so on. But something was missing, we lacked an offering that contributed to customers’ health & wellbeing and their need for enjoying life.”

This spurred Wereldhave to introduce additional amenities like gyms, dentists, physiotherapists, better F&B offerings and leisure concepts; tenants and services that go beyond material goods and lead to richer, more enjoyable lives. They dubbed this approach, ‘Full Service Centres’.

“With our Full Service Centres, we aim to support people in a better everyday life and tenants in better business.” says Marvin.

Wereldhave’s shift in strategy pivots around the idea that if you can meet the broader needs of shoppers, that will culminate in better business outcomes for their tenants, and ultimately better returns for Wereldhave and its shareholders.

“It’s a flywheel effect: if we make the centres’ offering more relevant in people’s everyday life, they will have more reasons to visit, which in return delivers better business for our tenants.”

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Reimagining the retail space

Online shopping presents an existential challenge to physical retail spaces. Wereldhave responded to that by rethinking what their centres could be, and making more optimal use of the space they had.

“To make our centres future proof, we aim to spare around 20% of the retail floorspace to new types of tenants: businesses that focus on health, wellness, F&B and leisure,” says Rik.

By reimagining what they centres could offer, Wereldhave were able to deliver the kind of things more traditional shopping centres didn’t.  

“For example, in one of our centres in Arnhem, we have a blood bank, dentist and a physiotherapist,” adds Marvin. All of these tenants give people new reasons for visiting the centre and in addition, there is a strong synergy between the new mixed-use tenants and the more traditional retail tenants.”

For Wereldhave, it’s about being more than just a manager, but a platform facilitator between visitors and tenants businesses.

“We create and manage the centres where these visitors engage with businesses, so both parties can benefit,” says Rik. “Chainels helps us collaborate with our tenants and business partners to provide a strong offering with attractive events, good opening hours and all the service they need to attract customers and thrive. We can only create attractive centres if we can collaborate together on a day to day basis.”



Getting management under control

A reimagining of the retail space such as this requires a lot of coordination and communication between different tenants and stakeholders. For that, Wereldhave looked to Chainels.

“An app like Chainels is an innovative solution for staying in touch with your tenants, for collaborating, sharing information & keeping each other updated,” says Rik.

“Before we introduced Chainels, we just used contact lists of tenants for each centre, but these were sometimes incomplete which created a lot of manual work. Processes like organising events, sharing latest news and documents or keeping everyone involved, became quite labour intensive.”

They now use Chainels’s easy-to-use directory of users and companies, which provides a clearer overview of users and companies.

“The app reduced a lot of effort and improved our processes a lot. That’s why we’re still using it after 9 years.” 

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Collecting data for better business outcomes

If Wereldhave were ever going to make their new strategy a success, they needed a way to collect and act upon data.

They use Chainels to share sales data and monitor the performance of centres and their tenants. They also integrate with footfall provider PFM to analyse visitor counts into different parts of their centres.

“We use Chainels as a management tool to report footfall and collect turnover data from tenants,” says Rik. “Most of our tenants have agreed to share their sales turnover per month or per quarter. We now use Chainels to send them reminders and make sure they’re up to date. The data they share gets migrated to our data warehouse to be used in management reporting and performance analysis”

Armed with the data that they collect on Chainels, Wereldhave has a better understanding of the performance of centres and is able to identify pain points and anomalies and then work pragmatically to solve problems.

“Chainels allows us to be proactive in our management. If you notice certain tenants or sections of the centre are underperforming, you can collaborate with your asset management team to decide on the next steps. That might require additional marketing efforts or if there are specific issues that require attention. It helps in monitoring the performance of the centre, but also discussing possible solutions and next steps.”

Chainels broad range of features allows Wereldhave to carry out multiple operations on a single platform for better oversight and less confusion.

“It’s multiple solutions in one tool,” adds Marvin. “Not just for collecting data, if you want to get in touch with Wereldhave, flag an issue, if there's something wrong with your unit, or if you want to call security, you can do it all on Chainels.”

Fostering better tenants experience through communication

Wereldhave also use Chainels to manage the minutiae of building strong communities of satisfied tenants, and ensure the business success of their tenants. 

“We use the platform to evaluate events, campaigns, collaborations, store openings”, says Marvin. We gather feedback on marketing campaigns, shopping centre operations, opening hours, security, and cleanliness.”

Marvin and his team utilise Chainels to take a truly personalised and tenant-centric approach to centre management.

“When considering tenant satisfaction, it primarily revolves around questions like: How frequently do you visit our store? How often do you inquire about our well-being? How is your turnover rate? Are your sales robust this month? Your storefront looks stunning. Would you like assistance with a marketing campaign? Ultimately, it's the personal attention that truly makes a significant impact on tenant satisfaction.”

“Obviously, Chainels could never fully replace the physical attention or the live feedback that we get from tenants and the real life collaboration with tenants. But it's a critical tool for proactive management.”

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Giving back and putting ESG into practice.

Beyond an innovative Full Service Center strategy, Wereldhave also focused their efforts on ESG. They do this by making sure they’re doing what they can to reduce their environmental impact, but also creating employment opportunities in the local community.

“Our ESG strategy focuses a lot on how our centres contribute to a more vibrant community and a more sustainable future, says Marvin. “We install solar panels and purchase clean energy. But also we give back to the community by organising job fairs that tenant businesses and local visitors can participate in.”

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