REAL ESTATE

Arkansas’ only outlet center makes its debut

BY Melonie Messina

Little Rock, Ark. — New England Development opened Outlets of Little Rock in Little Rock, Arkansas, on Oct. 16. The center welcomed thousands of area residents and visitors to shop at Arkansas’ only outlet center.

The newest destination for shopping in the region is home to first-to-market fashion retailers: Under Armour, Asics, Bass Factory Store, Brooks Brothers Factory Store, Cole Haan, Levi's Outlet Store, Lindt Chocolate Shop, Restoration Hardware and Skechers.

The center also features national outlet retailers: J.Crew | crewcuts Factory, Gap Factory Store, LOFT Outlet, Gymboree Outlet, Chico's Outlet, The Children's Place Outlet, Christopher & Banks | CJ Banks, Clarks Outlet and Express Factory Outlet, among others. Nike Factory Store, Tommy Hilfiger, American Eagle Outfitters, Old Navy Outlet and Banana Republic Factory Store.

“We truly appreciate the dedication of the men and women who have worked so hard on this project. Together, we have created an exciting destination that will serve the shopping needs of local and regional residents, help attract thousands of visitors to Pulaski County, provide hundreds of employment opportunities, and generate a significant economic impact on the local and state levels,” said Douglass Karp, president for New England Development.

Outlets of Little Rock are projected to have a significant economic impact on the region. The construction phase of the center provided approximately 1,000 jobs, and 800-1,000 people have been hired to work in the stores and at the center. The center is expected to generate approximately $100 million in annual retail sales.

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Outdated technology holding back retailers

BY Marianne Wilson

Yesterday’s POS won’t cut it when it comes to providing a consistent experience across channels.

That’s among the findings of a study sponsored by NetSuite and conducted by RSR research, which finds that most retailers are falling short in bridging the online and in-store experience Among the main obstacles: outdated existing technology.

The report finds that retailers are struggling to unify their online and in-store experiences, with existing technology/infrastructure preventing them from moving forward with new omnichannel solutions. Indeed, 77% of the surveyed retailers believe their legacy point-of-sale (POS) is preventing them from providing a consistent customer experience across channels. What’s more, retailers said they face significant challenges getting new technologies rolled out to stores and in helping employees respond to informed, smartphone-enabled shoppers.

Key findings include:

• 95% of retailers agree that the store and the digital experience must be brought together for a continuous, seamless experience;

• 78% report getting new technologies rolled out to stores is a top challenge;

• 94% of retailers say inventory insight across all channels is important; and

• 95% of retailers say real-time visibility into customer activity across all channels is important.

Too many retailers still treat the in-store experience as completely separate from the online experience which frustrates customers and prevents retailers from capitalizing on opportunities for cross-sell, upsell and improved customer loyalty, according to the study.

"When it comes to how to support the convergence of digital and the full shopping journey, retailers are stuck – waiting for something better to come along than the disparate systems they have," said Steve Rowan, managing partner of RSR Research and an author of the report. "The reality is there are options out there, but even better-performing retailers are cautious in approaching them, fearing both the cost and the pain of making the change."

The study was sponsored by NetSuite, whose single cloud commerce platform SuiteCommerce InStore is the first system that integrates comprehensive omnichannel capabilities into an enterprise-class, mobile-first, POS solution that seamlessly unifies the online and in-store customer journey, according to the company.

The solution also provides visibility into inventory anywhere in the business, enabling the ability to combine different fulfillment models such as cash-and-carry and ship-to-home in a single transaction.

To download a complimentary benchmark report from RSR Research and NetSuite, click here.

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REAL ESTATE

Simon Property Group extending use of advanced lighting controls

BY Marianne Wilson

One of the nation’s largest mall operators is updating its parking lot lighting with a tech-savvy solution.

Simon Property Group is expanding its deployment of the NetSense Light Sensory Network, from Sensity Systems Inc., to multiple retail properties across the United States, using the advanced lighting controls platform in its parking lots and garages. The mall operator also plans to implement smart parking, public safety and other operational applications associated with the platform in the future to help it deliver superior shopping experiences at their properties nationwide.

“We are constantly seeking out and deploying relevant, leading-edge technologies that can enhance the Simon shopping experience,” said Tim Earnest, executive VP, Simon Malls. “The Sensity NetSense solution fits into our overarching sustainability strategy while also providing unique ways to deliver additional value to our customers and retailers.”

Simon, which operates 228 retail properties in North America, Europe and Asia, has already deployed the advanced lighting control system from Sensity at its Brea Mall (Brea, California) and Puerto Rico Premium Outlets (Barceloneta, Puerto Rico) locations. The Great Mall (Milpitas, California), The Mills at Jersey Gardens (Elizabeth, New Jersey) and Ontario Mills (Los Angeles, California) are the next locations for the deployment, with additional sites throughout Simon’s portfolio to follow.

The NetSense platform capitalizes on the widespread move toward LED lighting for outdoor uses. Transforming LED light fixtures into sensor-equipped, smart devices capable of capturing and transmitting data in real time, the solution provides retail customers with an opportunity to deliver a broad array of applications and services, such as:

• Real-time parking availability information: A hassle-free parking experience improves the overall shopper experience at a brick-and-mortar store. NetSense helps shoppers by providing real-time parking availability information throughout the parking lots and garages of a retail property.

• Increased public safety and security: With video-based security and real-time video analytics, NetSense offers not only a cost-effective solution to increase the safety of shopping patrons, but also pro-active information with which to respond to incidents. For example, video analytics capabilities include the detection of loitering, entering forbidden areas and other potential public safety events.

• Operational efficiencies (lighting control and traffic monitoring): NetSense enables real-time control, management, and maintenance support for all lighting fixtures (all outdoor, large indoor) across a mall property. Features include activity-based dimming, daylight harvesting, fault detection, and verification of energy savings.

In addition, applications under development include snow-level detection, parking resurfacing monitoring and vehicle traffic analytics.

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