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What shopping malls can learn from JD-Sports app universe

10/23/18 8:36 AM by Nikolaj Dahlgaard

Across all the malls with which we have discussed how to use the marketing budget most effectively, these questions come up when the discussion reaches the question: App or not.

  • Will our mall benefit from launching an app?
  • Can we generate enough content for the app to be relevant?
  • Does an app complement our offline activities?
  • Will our customers download the app?

They are good questions because many shopping mall apps fail. They fail because there are two premises that need to be established in order for a shopping mall app to be successful.  


  • The app has to create value for the customers, before and during every visit to the mall. 
  • The app has to create synergies between online and offline experiences


If the app doesn't fulfil these two premises, customers won't use the app again, and the money invested will create no value. A retention strategy for your app is such an important point that we made it chapter 5 in our e-book about the subject. Click here to download the E-book

In this article, I will tell you (Click on one of the topics to jump right to it)

Why customers want's a shopping mall app at their fingertips

Today’s consumers use mobile apps because it's a faster way to obtain information as well as inspiration, and therefore is more convenient. Instead of typing into Google, which at minimum requires 5 clicks, opening an app only requires 2.

Lately we have seen great apps from large retailers like Zalando, JD Sports, and Etsy. What they all have in common is that all of them create quick access to a universe of inspiration.


Example: How JD Sports creates an inspirational universe

JD sports succeeded in creating an inspirational universe. Here the customer can check new products, offers and competitions by just opening the app. This makes it easy for customers to get inspired. (see video below)

It may seem like an impossible task to create an app with the same kind of inspiration, but later in this article I'll show you how we do it for shopping malls.

Video showing how JD sports have created an inspiration app (1)

 Customers demand retail apps

That customers demand retail apps is clear if we look at the app categories that have grown the most in customer usage from 2016 to 2017. Here you see that retail app are among the most growing categories. 

Graph showing app usage in retail 

Top 3 reasons customers use a shopping mall app

In order to provide fast access to information and inspiration it's important to look at how customers use shopping mall apps.

Customers that use a shopping mall app opens it in average 1,7 times doing shopping days

If we look at our data conducted across all shopping malls using Emplate solutions, we see that customers who use a shopping mall app on average open the app 1.7 times on days when they visit the mall.

They open the app before and during their visit to the mall, which tells us that customers use the app as part of their research for products. 

On average, customers use the app for just under 2 min. every time they open it. An insight that  compliments the above insight. Telling us that customers use the app for the purpose of inspiration and product research. 

In the next section we look at the top 3 features that customers use in the apps that we have insights on.


Top 3 used features:

1. Browsing new product offers

2. Redeeming loyalty points and checking prizes

3. Looking up opening hours and events

Browsing for new products and offers

We see that customers spend a lot of time checking new arrivals from tenants (See video below). This feature is in line with the example from JD sports and creates an inspirational universe with fresh new content every time the customer opens the app.

The feature shows the value between online and offline experiences as customers use the app to get inspired, and then visits the store to buy.

Recently we conducted a case study which showed that every time a tenant uploads an offer to the app 23 customers interacts with the offer and visit the store doing the following 7 days. Click here to read the full case study

Video showing the feed in Emplates apps (1)

As part of their research through the offers customers can save an offer and find it again when entering the store. With this feature, customers can plan their trip to the mall in a more convenient way, because they now know which stores has interesting new products to offer, and they can find them again when they need it.

Redeeming loyalty points

Loyalty programs have been proven to make customers keep coming back. But loyalty programs are not just a way for customers to earn discounts - it's a game

A game where customers are being rewarded for doing small actions along their way to the great reward.

At Emplate, we have designed the loyalty program in our apps to reward customers when they step into the mall and make other activities during their visit.

This provides the customer with the feeling of winning a small prize every time they enter the mall, and this makes it even more fun to go, thus creating synergy between offline and online experiences.

The approach is also approved by research from the leading technological loyalty consultancy Anvato showing that 64% of customers want's to earn rewards for other activities than buying.


Looking up opening hours and events

Two questions that customers ask before heading to the mall are:

1. Are the mall open now?

2. What is happening at the mall today?

Customers wants this information in a blink of an eye, and they have a frustrating experience every time they can't get the answer to these questions fast.

That's why we put this information at the centre when customers open the app.

Picture showing opening hours and events in the app

How to get customers to download your app

Getting customers to download your app is an important part of any success full app launch, and a part you need to have a strategy for. I have written an article explaining our 3 best and well executed tactics to get customer to download and use your app.

Click here to read: 3 easy ways to get customers to download your shopping mall app.  

Final Giveaway

Now I hope you have a better understanding of how you can use a shopping mall app to create synergies between offline and online experiences.

A mall that excel in creating synergies are the danish mall herningCentret. We have created a case study that shows exactly how they have done it to create a strong digital presence that drives customers to the mall. 

How a mall got 94.258 visits from their loyalty app in 12 months

Nikolaj Dahlgaard

Written by Nikolaj Dahlgaard

Co-founder of Emplate. Business Development Engineer who likes to travel and see new places.