Levin survey shows store expansion, tech-driven marketing

North Plainfield, N. J. -- Nearly one-third (31.1% ) of retailers report that their companies have opened or will open new stores this year, according to a survey by retail real estate management firm Levin Management. It is the highest mid-year percentage in the four years for which comparative Levin survey data is available.

More than half (52.9%) of respondents to Levin’s mid-year “Retail Sentiment Survey” of managers within its 95-property, shopping center portfolio reported sales at equal or higher levels than at this time last year. This percentage is notably higher than the mid-year 2014 and 2013 polls, where 42.9% and 43.7% of participants, respectively, reported the same or higher year-over-year sales.

A majority (78.4%) of respondents work for companies that are actively using technology in marketing efforts to attract customers to their stores. Of those survey participants, 53.9% have upped their technology-centered strategy year over year.

The most popular in-store marketing tools include mobile device apps for discounts, loyalty points and/or rapid payment (used by 61.2%); post-sale online surveys (used by 47.8%); and free Wi-Fi (offered by 41.8%).

The marketing tools being used to reach customers outside the store include social media (76.4%), and email (72.3%) use email. Others employ banner ads and other Internet advertising (41.9%), text messaging (27.7%), and SEO optimization like Google AdWords (11.5%).

“What we find interesting is the multi-faceted approach our tenants are taking when it comes to leveraging technology for marketing,” said Matthew K. Harding, president, Levin Management. “Retailers clearly are using many – and multiple – channels to engage shoppers.”

In other survey highlights;  

More than one third (37.3%) of respondents reported they have adapted their business model in response to the growth of e-commerce. Of these participants:
• 61.3% have added in-store services and/or incentives.

• 46.7% have incorporated in-store pickup and returns options for purchases made online.

• 42.7% have altered store inventory (fewer in-stock SKUs, larger quantities of popular items, etc.).

• 41.3% have increased collaboration between online and bricks-and-mortar operations.

• 17.3% have altered their store prototype (i.e. smaller store size or increased focus on showrooming, etc.).

And with social media as such a dominant focus for retail marketing, the Levin survey drilled down into specific platforms being used by its tenants. Of applicable survey participants:

• 91.9% use Facebook.
• 39.7% use Twitter.
• 33.1% use Instagram.
• 27.9% use Google+.
• 17.7% use Pinterest.
• 10.3% use Groupon/Living Social.
• 9.6% use Foursquare.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have remained the three most popular platforms across a full year of Levin surveys.

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