How Westend Shopping Center succeeded with its digital transformation

September 14, 2021

Finding the best possible solution that propels your shopping center into the digital era, provides great experiences for your customers and adds value all around can be difficult, but Westend has succeeded in having a shopping center app that does this with features catered to the shopping center’s wants and needs. In this case study we’ll have a look at Westend, it’s goals and how its shopping center app can fulfil those.

Before diving head first into the case study, let’s give a proper introduction to Westend Shopping Center; Westend Shopping Center is located in Budapest, Hungary. Westend is home to over 400 different stores - this makes it one of the largest shopping centers in Central Europe.

Emplate got the opportunity to interview the Director of Asset Management at Westend to hear about his take on what it has meant and why Westend decided to find a digital solution and the goals Westend has for the future:

As Miklós Gyertyánfy explains in the interview, Westend’s goal was to improve the average spending of visitors, get knowledge from consumer behavior to help improve their tenant mix and move away from offline marketing so they can cater to customers more specifically and help them get the information they need for a positive shopping experience. Down the line, Westend would also like to grow numbers using their app further and to look more into different use cases.

What Westend received:

When Westend decided to use Emplate for creating an online platform, the next big question was what it should include; Emplate’s standard shopping center app already includes features such as offers, news, a point-based loyalty system, etc. but Westend also wanted to add features like parking and wayfinding in order to customize for Westend customers specifically.

A look into Westend’s Consumer App:

Let’s have a run down of the different components in Westend’s app and how they each add value for Westend and the shopping center’s customers.

Home Tab:

The first thing that greets Westend’s customers every time they decide to check their Westend app is the Home Tab. Westend’s Home Tab is customized in more than one way:

Firstly, the Westend team decides themselves what sort of categories they want to be included on the home tab (we’ll get into those in a second) and in what order they should be arranged in relation to one another.

Secondly, the Home Tab is customized to the customer. It is dynamic. This means that when the customer opened the app for the first time, they got to decide what kind of stores they wished to see offers and news from.

These two things combined means that Westend’s home tab is always catered to what Westend wants the customers to see and what is relevant for the individual customer, in order to create the best shopping experiences for each visitor.


Now, let’s have a scroll down Westend’s home tab together and see, what it includes:

  • Szurkoljunk együtt a Westend Tetőkertjén! (Cheer together at the Westend rooftop garden)
  • Westend szezonnyitó – ilyen lesz a nyár a tetőkertben! (Westend season opener - this will be the summer in the roof garden)

The two categories that Westend has decided to place at the very top of the consumer app are both about inviting people to visit Westend’s rooftop garden. Placing these two as the very first thing that the customers see shows how Westend is customizing its consumer app to achieve its goals for the shopping center – Westend inspires the consumers to visit their rooftop garden, which in turn leads to the increased foot fall they wanted in that area of the shopping center. By placing these events on the roof top garden head first, Westend also shows the visitors how there are many exciting things going on, which can inspire them to visit.


Visitors enjoying Westend's rooftop garden
Source: Westend Shopping Center.

  • Oscar-díjas filmekkel vár a Cinema City Westend (Oscar-winning films Var in a cinema city Westend)

The next category that Westend has highlighted is what Oscar winning films are playing in their cinema at the moment. This again shows, how Westend customizes the home tab to show the great experiences they have to offer beyond shopping. The cinema is also interesting as Westend found it very important to have a cinema extension to their shopping center app so that the customers can get the very best and most convenient experience in the shopping center, only needing to use the app to get and know everything they want when they visit Westend.

  • Gyűjtsd a pontokat az ajándékokért! (Collect gifts in the gift garden)

The point category is Westend’s loyalty program, where customers are awarded with points every time they visit the shopping center. Westend makes use of the loyalty program to help ensure great customer loyalty and foot fall in the shopping center. By placing the category so high up on the home page, Westend reminds the customers of all the great items they can get by visiting the shopping center and entices them with the prizes available at the moment.

  • Kuponok (Coupons)
  • Újdonságok (News)

These next two categories Westend have included on their customized home tab is all about the news and offers from the stores in the shopping center – both things important for the visitors when visiting the shopping center, which is why they’re included on the home tab. This places the focus on the stores in the shopping center and what they want to share with the customers. Having the shops make the content for this category means, that it is always relevant and up to date with what they want to share at the moment without all the effort from the Westend team in terms of collecting it. We will get into it even more when we touch on how Westend uses Emplate Shop to get shop created content for their shopping center app.

  • Hírek, események (News, events)

Finally, the last category included on the home page is one focused on new events happening in Westend. This category is interesting because the content in this category is directly from Westend’s webpage. The reason for this is that Westend wanted the app to work in tandem with its other digital platforms, and because the app is white label it could be set up so that it automatically takes in content from Westend’s webpage and sends the offers and news made by the stores to the webpage which is then also visible there.

Shops:

Now, we’ve seen what Westend’s home tab has to offer, but what about if you start clicking around? The next tab in line is “Shops”. This is where the customer can get an overview of all the different stores in Westend’s shopping center. Seeing as Westend is such a big shopping center, the stores have even been sorted into categories to make it easier for customers to navigate.

The “Shop” tab is where the customers can decide which categories or stores they wish to see content from. Meaning, the only content that they are presented with on the home tab, is content that they’re interested in seeing.

This goes hand in hand with Westend’s goal of creating a digital shopping experience that offered value to their customers and was catered to provide a great shopping experience for the individual visitor.


Wayfinding:

The next tab on Westend’s consumer app is called “Maps”, which is the wayfinding tab, that customers can use to find their way around the large shopping center.

From the get go, Westend was very committed to having wayfinding integrated into their consumer app, in order to make shopping easy and fun for the visitors. There’s two different types of wayfinding available in the app: red dot and step based, and it is all made possible by the MapsPeople integration in Emplate. Wayfinding not only means that visitors can find their way around – they can also click on the different stores they pass and see offers and news from them, as well as information about the store. This has been important for Westend in order to create a visiting experience where customers can also explore the shopping center.



How the customers can use the two different wayfinding options in Westend

Loyalty:

The “Rewards” tab is linked to the prize category we saw on the home tab. This is where the customers can see the different rewards they can redeem with the points they get when they visit Westend. The rewards can be from both Westend itself or the different stores, who can suggest a reward if they want to boost traffic to their store.

The loyalty program is a key aspect in Westend’s consumer app and it serves several functions:

  • It enhances customer experience and increases loyalty.
  • It gives reason for the visitors to visit Westend at a higher frequency.
  • It can be used to spread out traffic and affect visitor activity in a way that Westend wants it to be - e.g. Westend at one point decided to give 20 points to customers who visit the roof top garden and, as we saw earlier, this is a key area of interest in terms of footfall.

The loyalty system has also been beneficial during Covid, where Westend has done their best to provide the customers with safe shopping experiences by offering points to visitors who visit during off hours to spread out the traffic in the shopping center.


Parking:

Parking was another item that was high on Westend’s wish list, with their goal to have the entire shopping center digitalized. A convenient parking solution tapped into a customer group Westend as a whole is very interested in and having this all gathered in the app was the obvious choice. The way that Emplate managed to do this was by implementing a third party integration for Westend. As the consumer app has been designed to be white label, it was possible to integrate Rollet. With the parking integration soon to be released in the app, the visitor’s license place can be read and charged automatically as they visit and leave after the visitor has registered their license plate and card number the first time.

What lies behind it:

Those were the main aspects of Westend’s consumer app. But what lies behind it and makes sure there is always content ready for the customers to see, based on their individual preferences? The consumer app is just one part of the Mall Engagement Platform. Let’s have a look at the rest:

Emplate Shop:

While Emplate Shop is not part of the consumer app itself, it is very important for it. Emplate Shop is the tool that the different shops in Westend can use to make posts for the consumer app about offers and news from their store. This means that the stores themselves can create content for the consumer app, which means that the Westend team can place their focus other things than gathering offers and news from the stores.


Emplate Shop has been designed to be intuitive and easy to use for the stores, which entices the stores to get all their offers and news out there, one store in Westend even called it “as easy as Instagram”. By having the stores create content for the app, Westend also ensures that all the good offers and news are never overlooked, despite there being so many different stores in the shopping center.

Management System:

The Management System is where Westend can control everything that goes into the consumer app. While having content created by the tenants works great, Westend is also able to control, what goes into the app, should there be something they want to add or remove while also deciding how it should all be displayed within the app. In order to do so, they use the management system, which allows them to see customer insights, performance data, tenant insights, create rewards, send push notifications, set up the app for new campaigns, and so on in order to get the most out of their shopping center app.

Mall Web:

Westend wants the value they get from their consumer app to be used beyond the app itself. Because of this, the content made in Emplate Shop by the different tenants in Westend is not only used in the shopping center app, but also on Westend’s other digital channels, through Mall Web. For example, there is an integration directly to Westend’s website, where the tenant created content is used to give it a dynamic feel and constant relevance as offers and news are always being changed.

Going Forward:

Westend set themselves out to find a solution that could move them into the digital era and fulfil their wants of understanding their customers better as well as provide them with a great shopping experience. They’ve managed to do so by:

  • Deciding to go digital
  • Finding the right solution (Emplate) for Westend
  • Implementing said solution
  • Having Emplate develop and integrate wayfinding and parking

Now, with the app up and running, all that’s left to do is enjoy the benefits of digitalization and consider what more Westend would like to gain from having the consumer app in the future.

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