[Sites Commerciaux] Today, innovation is at the heart of the strategy of most of large commercial property group . In 2012, Unibail-Rodamco took the lead when it created the UR Lab innovation hub. In early 2016, it launched UR Link, its startup accelerator, before creating a new 900 sq m section at its headquarters, the ‘Mixer’, with a separate entrance, a bright, stylish, sustainable and high-tech Google-like environment, offering a collaborative and creative workspace. Unibail-Rodamco paved the way for other commercial property groups. Read on to learn about the initiatives of 8 large groups to promote innovation and build tomorrow’s retail.
Unibail-Rodamco & the Real Estate Tech
After fintech and foodtech, meet real estate tech. In other words: technology in the service of real estate, Unibail-Rodamco’s new mantra. This ambitious strategy unfolded in several stages, as Ludovic Flandin, Managing Director at UR Lab, explains: “We started in 2012, using the R&D departments and their internal teams dedicated to innovation as an inspiration. Then, we soon brought the business teams in the game, before opting for open innovation.”
During the season 1, between March and July 2016, the teams accompanied 5 new startups, chosen amongst more than 150 applicants. Each company was paired with a Unibail-Rodamco top management sponsor and a project leader. As from May 2016, 5 operational pilot projects were launched on the premises of the Forum des Halles, the Quatre Temps and Parly 2. The concept of Dress in the City, a platform to exchange second-hand clothes, was chosen to be developed in 10 shopping centres in Europe by the end of 2017.
During the second season, Unibail-Rodamco chose 6 startups to be hosted at the Mixer, the innovation centre the group inaugurated in September. In 2017, the concept will be scaled internationally: each director will have to build its mini-Lab.
Representative: Ludovic Flandin, Managing Director of UR Lab
Physical lab: the Mixer, in the headquarters, but with a separate entrance
Name of the innovation accelerator: UR Link
Role: make shopping centres more digital, more sustainable and more user-friendly
Sourcing partner: Numa (French accelerator for startups)
Example of startups accelerated: Sous les Fraises (urban farming). The idea is to grow fruits on vertical stems on roofs. A pilot project was developed at the Palais des Congrès and Unibail-Rodamco is considering the idea to establish one at So Ouest, with its roof of 6,000 sq m – which would make it the largest urban farm in Europe.
Other startups: Dress in the City (platform for second-hand clothes exchanges), Merito (online recruitment)
Klépierre Counts on Marketing Innovation
“The most responsive mall!” is the mantra driving Klépierre.
How? By committing to answer to client feedback in no more than an hour, which was made true by an algorithm developed by Alcméon and which helps improving customer relationships on social media. The solution is currently being tested at Créteil Soleil, and this very promising innovation is about to be scaled across all the centres.
The system is one of the last findings of the marketing department to supplement and simplify shopping experience.
The reason why innovation is placed under the responsibility of the marketing department is that the strategy of the group is now entirely “customer centric”. “In this perspective, our commercial property group recently created a CRM and digital hub, with teams specialised in UX, social media and traffic generation, collaborating with data scientists”, Elise Masurel, Marketing Director, explains, proving how important the matter is to them.
Representative: Elise Masurel, Marketing Director
Name of the innovation programme: Klépierre ID
Role: accelerating the digital transformation of malls
Physical Lab: the Creative Club, in the offices of the group
Sourcing partner: Microsoft. First joint operation: the Vivatechnology challenge, organised by Publicis at the end of July.
Agency partners: Digitas and iProspect&Chorus
Featured startup: Stimshop, a tech solution to detect visitors and customer journey in physical locations via ultrasounds and to send them targeted messages, by activated the mic of their smartphone. The only infrastructure required for this technology is a sound system, which already exists in centres. The solution is tested since January 2017 in the Odysseum, Les Arcades and VIlliers centres.
Other startups: Alcméon (social platform), Mapwise (indoor guidance solution)
Apsys: how will tomorrow’s shopping centre look like?
A Try&Collect service enabling onsite fitting of clothes people primarily ordered online, a clothes dryer for rainy or snowy days, a coworking space near a dining section, etc.
All those innovations are part of the range of new services developed in Apsys’ new shopping centre, Posnania, in Poland. They are born thanks to Apsys Lab, the innovation hub of the company who carried out an international monitoring. For three years, its teams travelled around the world to benchmark different initiatives on the market in terms of digital, new technologies and customer experience. “We are Retail Craftsmen” Fabrice Bansay, Managing Director of Apsys, reckons. “This is why we are striving to build unique centres, tailored to their catchment area. We first look for innovations, via Apsys Lab, and then adapt them to our malls.”
Representatives: Fabrice Bansay, Managing Director of Apsys, and Slawomir Murawski, Director of Apsys Lab.
Featured startup: Admemori, a creative studio specialised in visual poetry
Physical Lab: no. Just a think tank, Apsys Lab, a Polish unit for international monitoring, reuniting a group of passionate people recruited among all the co-works at Apsys, independently from their position.
Role: searching and developing innovative solutions to offer new services and memorable experiences to customers. Apsys Lab also works on digital solutions promoting conviviality.
Hammerson: Italie Deux as a life-size laboratory
In 2015, the British real estate group launched the ‘Product’ programme aiming at implementing initiatives to offer the perfect shopping experience to all their guests. In this context, a dedicated team of Hammerson coworkers was put together to suggest a range of initiatives, which are tested in a pilot centre, here Italie Deux. Performance is assessed by customer feedback. “They are the ones who help us decide whether or not to scale the innovation across all our malls”, Sandrine Bober-Maillet, Marketing Project Manager in France, explains.
Their latest initiative is the Wall of Surprises, inaugurated in the Parisian mall. This drive-to-store solution, developed by the startup Think&Go, lets guests interact with the screen, opt for a promotional offer, grab it, walk to the store and get a discount accordingly. “In three weeks, 50 stores participated and 14,000 vouchers were collected”, she explains.
In 2018, Italie Deux will elevate to a new dimension with its extension, Italik, (7000 sq m), creating a unique collaborative structure. “It will be a coworking space for startups, just next to a restaurant”, Bastien Leal, Director of Marketing and Communication, announces. The Italik project aims to initiate a new way to conceive cities and retail. It attaches great importance to entrepreneurs and innovative brands.
Representatives: Bastien Leal, Director of Marketing and Communication @ Hammerson France, and Sandrine Bober-Maillet, Marketing Project Manager
Physical Lab: no. But a horizontal unit
Role: innovating in terms of design, offer, services, customer interaction, entertainment and sustainable development.
Name of the innovation programme: Product, created in 2015
Sourcing partner: France Initiative, a voluntary network to fund creators ; the Paris-Dauphine University (Master), to imagine an innovative “hand free shopping” solution.
Featured startup: Short Edition, which shares short stories to entertain guests in resting spaces in Italie Deux (22,000 stories were downloaded in 6 months). Short Edition is the first collaborative platform dedicated to short stories. The terminal prints short stories to read on papyrus. Each visitor of the shopping centre can benefit from this innovation in terms of customer relations.
Carmila: Marketing 2.0
This commercial property group wishes to bring more value to the services of its centers by providing more reasons to visit them. Thus, its has partnered with numerous startups to provide different services. For instance, people get to know the best deals of the mall on their smartphone via Plyce, or take appointments in stores with the app Clicrdv. E-reservation is also made possible by So Cloz. Soon, a new third-party space will open at Cité Europe – which is a good way to attract millennials!
Today, in Carmila centres, 400 stores offer cross-channel services to their guests. However, innovation is not just about technology, Anne-Laure Joumas, Director of Strategic Marketing, Innovation and Digital, explains: “More broadly, we are talking about everything that can give a new physiognomy to the centre. For instance, sending a text to clients whose battery is low to let him know where the closest charging point is. We can make that work with a more innovative offer, driven by young brands.”
This is particularly true in dining, a key sector in terms of customer journey in shopping centres, as it increases customers’ loyalty and visit time. That is why Carmila acquired a minority interest in Square Maker, a ‘croque-monsieur’ specialist, already present in 4 shopping arcades owned by the group.
Representatives: Anne-Laure Joumas, Director of Strategic Marketing, Innovation and Digital
Physical Lab: no, just a network to exchange ideas, Carmilab, and a platform to innovate online, Mydea, an idea box which was fed with 200 ideas from co-workers in a month.
Sourcing partner: Vivatech, which aims at boosting web-to-store
Featured startup: OptiMiam, a solution to reduce waste.
Other startups: SoCIoz (ereservation), Plyce (deals and vouchers on your smartphone)
Immochan: Cross-Fertilisation of Innovation
Detecting, sharing and accelerating: this motto drives Immochan’s innovation teams every day, as they constantly use collective intelligence. “In this perspective, we have created Cocclico a year ago, with To Luna: a consumer panel (6,000 people) we request every time we are not sure about an idea, a process, a service, etc. We are the first real estate company using such as system”, Marc Maheut, Director of Marketing and Innovation at Immochan, claims.
The sharing principle is also used between the different brands of the Mulliez Family Association. “The information flows horizontally. As soon as a solution has passed the initial testing phase successfully, it is shared with other branches and countries which could be interested”, Julien Raynal, Innovation Manager explains.
Representatives: Marc Maheut, Director of Marketing and Innovation at Immochan, and Julien Raynal, Innovation Manager
Externalised Physical Lab: Ze 12th Player (Ztp), a startup accelerator with offices in Lille and San Francisco, soon in Asia
Role: make the implementation of innovations related to customer relationship and buyers’ journey easy in the companies of the Mulliez Family Association.
Sourcing partner: Piicom, a competitive cluster, and Euratechnologies, economic excellence hub dedicated to Information and communications technologies.
Featured startup: Colisweb revolutionises online shopping, offering a service of local delivery tailored to consumers’ daily constraints.
Other startups: Origo (CSR)
Compagnie de Phalsbourg: Digital Innovation
Philippe Journo’s real estate company helps brands use digital tools locally when they do not not own them on a national level.
The startup Shopping Adventure is a good illustration: it has developed a tech solution enabling users to monitor the stock of surrounding stores almost in real time. Here is another example with Merim Digital Media, thanks to which the Compagnie de Phalsbourg made digital media solutions available, such as interactive terminals offering services, digital totems for communication, a mobile application and a website dedicated to consumers to curate useful information of the centre, or an application to manage and print Nfc loyalty cards.
“Generally speaking, innovations are tested at Waves before being scaled to other centres if the experience is a success” Ségolène Juilian, Director of Marketing & Operations and Digital, explains. Most of those innovations have to do with customer data, which is why the real estate company is recruiting high-tech profiles this year for their marketing department: reinforcing their data mining and traffic analysis skills is key to them.
Representative: Ségolène Juilian, Director of Marketing & Operations and Digital
Physical Lab: no, but a Board of Young Leaders created in 2017, with 30 co-workers.
Role: finding startups and doing the spadework to understand digital trends
Featured startup: Wishibam, an application and ecommerce website providing shopping assistance services to help people choose their clothes.
Other startups: Merim Digital Media ( digital media solution)
Altarea: Gathering Customer Data is Key
“We were places builders. Now we are relationship builders: we offer new shared and connected experiences of consumption and of leisure to our customers”, Maxime Lanquetuit, Innovation Director @ Altarea explains. “For that purpose, the real estate company invested in digital for its Retail department to anticipate customers’ requirements.” Blandine Charvériat-Louis, Marketing Director, adds.
This is how Altagroupe, a society 100%-owned by Alain Taravella, took a 25%-equity participation in the software publisher Openfield in December 2015. The software helps the group gather real time data about customer behaviour, from the parking to the cashier, and send targeted messages according to where they are located. It also helps the company’s internal data processing platform to develop. The latter aims at refining customer knowledge, in the physical and the digital world, and gives information on customer types to retailers in the malls. The information is shared in an innovation think tank the group created a year ago to reunite all the brands the real estate company works with.
Representatives: Maxime Lanquetuit, Innovation Director, and Blandine Charvériat-Louis, Marketing Director
Physical Lab: Altafuture, located in the headquarters and composed of cross-disciplinary teams
Role: identifying innovations (in retail, but also in offices and housing)
Example of prospective project: a digital platform dedicated to a specific neighbourhood to provide services in stores, offices and houses. Therefore, in the new area Cœur de Ville in Issy-les-Moulineaux, Altarea is building a social network, promoting interaction between the inhabitants.
Sourcing partner: Immowell Lab, a startup accelerator dedicated to “wellbeing in real estate”, and Paris&Co, the agency for economic developent and innovation of Paris.
Other startups: Wynd (order management) Openfield (data management and data crunching)