A few days and about 15 meetings later, I am brimming with updates and stories from the annual International Council of Shopping Centers’ New York Deal-Making Convention in New York City.
Interestingly, my very first face-to-face sitdown at the Dec. 5-6 show delivered the biggest innovation of the two-day event.
I met with Marty Richmond, VP of marketing and corporate communications for Beachwood, Ohio-based DDR, who introduced me to the company’s newly unveiled ValuText program, a location-based mobile marketing service.
Sounds like something you’ve seen before? Not really. This program is TEXT-based, and allows DDR shopping center tenants to connect directly with shoppers via an opt-in, promotion-based platform.
In lay terms, this is how it works. A shopper pulls up to a DDR open-air shopping center – 27 centers are currently using the program, with plans to roll it out to as many as 150 DDR properties around the country – and will see signage suggesting that he or she join ValuText right away. (To opt in, a shopper texts a code to a pre-set number.) Once joined, the shopper will begin receiving offers and discounts via text from participating merchants in the center.
Here’s the most important point: Once the shopper drives away from the center, all promotional texts cease. Because the program is location-based, notifications are triggered by proximity to the property.
DDR does not charge a fee for ValuText; it is a value-added service that the landlord provides its tenants gratis. And the service is also free for shoppers, making it a win-win for everyone.
What I like most about it is that the program should serve to round out the shopping experience. Because the DDR centers currently using the program are mostly strip and power centers, many shoppers have a tendency to run in and out of their favorite stores, passing adjacent storefronts by. Texted offers could very well create some serious cross-shopping opportunities.
I will be watching this program with interest. I suspect it will be a hit with retailers and certainly with their customers.