Connect is an application initially co-developed by the start-up Mallcomm and Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield for our shopping destinations to enable shopping centre teams, retailers and providers to interact and share information. Since the launch of a pilot in January 2017 in Barcelona, it has been scaled up rapidly to reach 56 shopping centres of the Group so far.
Connect by Mallcomm: a tool for collaboration between shopping centre teams, stores staff and providers
Back in 2016, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield was seeking a way to unify communications within each of its shopping centres: a partnership with the British start-up Mallcomm was started to identify specific needs and to co-develop a solution, Connect, for the Group. Connect is a digital management tool designed to accommodate all the interactions between shopping centre teams, the stores and the providers such as cleaning service, security, maintenance, parking teams etc.
It digitalises and optimises communication and daily processes in Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield shopping centres. Connect offers a new operating value to the shopping centres: SCM teams and store managers are more efficient and can save time, and retailers can benefit from an improved level of service. The app offers many features:
- Staff offers and activities available in the shopping centre can be shared and employees can publish offers for their store, it is a very used functionality that drives the staff community,
- News are directly transmitted to tenants on the “shopping centre’s newsfeed”. Whether related to opening hours or dedicated events, news are very well taken into consideration by tenants,
- Documentation is available for everyone: maps, calendars, internal rules, environment policy are constantly updated,
- Store performance and KPIs can be monitored by store managers for their business, and sales are easily collected by SCM teams,
- Job offers are distributed to accelerate the process of recruitment to reach the tenant community easily,
- Marketing actions: store participation in events and promotions can be boosted through the application.
In September, Connect had already been launched in 44 shopping centres in Europe : at this time, 1,267 discount offers and 628 job offers were available on the application. The last quarter of 2018 has been a phase of fast scale-up: 12 more shopping centres were enrolled to reach a total number of 56 centres by the beginning of 2019. Connect has become essential for retailers: on one hand sales reports are centralised on the application, on the other hand service, security and maintenance are requested via the app as well. And there are more functions to come in the next months.
Constant improvement since 2017 and further development to be expected in 2019
Connect was first tested in January 2017. A pilot of the application was launched in La Maquinista, Barcelona. The response was very positive and encouraged the Group to start a roll out of the application in all shopping centres, while continuing the development of features on the app and closely monitoring KPIs (stores and staff enrolled, number of active users, number of job offers…).
Connect still has a great potential for further development. In 2019, the pilot is now launched in US Westfield centres on the East Coast, and new functionalities that bring answers to the Better Places 2030 agenda will be added: CSR measures could be included, with a carpooling option for the shopping centre staff and stores staff for example.
The co-development of Connect with the start-up Mallcomm has proven to be successful, and since then Mallcomm has been able to enrich its offer with this solution. At URW Link, our mission is to constantly seek new innovative start-ups to collaborate with, this successful experience shows how partnerships can boost common growth and offer opportunities on both sides, for the start-up and the Group.Jean Collet