A shopper walking into The Fashion Mall at Keystone in Indianapolis, IN, can click on the new Simon iPhone app to discover that she can get $30 off at Gap if she brings any of her old denim to the store (View the Gap video promo). Or if she donates $1 to the Breast Cancer Network of Strength at Apricot Lane she will receive a $5 coupon.
Of the thousands of apps now on the market, some companies—simply based on their business model—will achieve much higher benefits from the technology than others.
Simon Property Group—and its 393 properties and thousands of retailers —is one such beneficiary. The company this week launched the app that provides a variety of information and services to any smartphone users who happen to make up the 3 billion visits to the company’s properties each year.
The new app is another move by Simon, the largest U.S. mall property group to tap into the smartphone technology. In August, it agreed to be among the first clients of a new location-based shopping app from Shopkick, a smartphone rewards startup, that gives smartphone users points for just walking through the door.
The Simon iPhone app is customized by location and offers shoppers three core benefits: information about retail promotions, store openings and events taking place at the mall.
The design and development of the application was simplified by the fact that Simon, in 2008, launched a Web site that aggregates all retailer promotions and mall events linked from www.Simon.com to the individual properties. That information is integrated into the app and customized by property.
“If we had to start from scratch and build a base of offers it would have been difficult, but because we were already down the path it was easy to plug this mobile app into our retailer showcase capability,” Mikael Thygesen, chief marketing officer for Simon Property Group said.
So when a shopper uses the app on a Tuesday in the Castleton Square mall in Indianapolis, IN, they can get a free kids meal at Chick-fil-A. A shopper at the Brea mall in Brea, CA, will find 30% off eyeglasses and prescription sunglasses at LensCrafters.
Among the other features are a mall map and one that allows shoppers to place a “pin” on a map to indicate where they parked so they can find their way back to their cars. Retailers are also using the app to hire employees. Forever 21 at the South Shore Plaza in Braintree, MA, is taking interviews from Oct. 22 through Oct. 23 between 11:30 am and 5 pm.
Shoppers learn about the new app through messaging on large-size sky banners, backlit directory panels and digital networks in 49 malls, Thygesen said. The app is available for free at the iPhone app store.
“This will get shoppers into a habit of checking out what’s happening at the mall,” he said.
Shoppers can also customize the app by favorite retailer to learn about their promotions first.
The application, designed by Simon Property Group and developed in tandem with its digital agency VML [http://www.VML.com] is available for free at the iPhone app store.
The company is testing social media features and functionality to see what resonates with its shoppers, including Foursquare, Facebook and Twitter.
“The mall is a very social place, the average visit takes 82 minutes, so we wanted to tap into that social aspect of shopping and give our shoppers through Foursquare the opportunity to identify to their friends that they are on mall,” he said. “It’s just an easy way for people using this app to share information with friends and family.”
Simon plans to roll out with new versions of the app as testing progresses. Worldwide smartphone sales reached 61.6 million units in the second quarter of 2010, a 50.5% increase from the same period in 2009, according to Gartner.
“I fully expect that a very large cross section of our consumers over the next couple of years will be smartphone users and in particular Android and iPhone users and we’ll be well positioned to take advantage of that trend to provide relevant information to our shoppers,” Thygesen said.