Trinity Leeds aims to become the most digitally sophisticated shopping centre in the UK when it opens its doors to the public one month from today.
At a time when bricks (stores) are losing out to clicks (internet shopping), Trinity Leeds is planning a state-of-the-art digital offering that will lure shoppers into the centre.
The £350m scheme, the only major retail and leisure development opening in Western Europe this year, aims to become the first of the next generation of shopping centres.
Opening its doors on March 21, Trinity Leeds will give customers a new mobile app, a network of digital screens, free wi-fi internet connection for mobile devices, personalised communication with shoppers and assistants on hand with internet-connected iPads to help customers get the most from their visit.
Trinity Leeds’ developer Land Securities has installed a system that ensures customers only receive content and offers that are relevant to them.
The man in charge of digital, Sean Curtis, Land Securities’ head of business to business marketing, retail, said: “Some shopping centres try to get a very large database, but they don’t understand who their customer is and what their preferences are. We will only send you information based on your preferences.”
“If you send customers information that’s irrelevant they will switch off and unsubscribe,” he added.
When visitors arrive at Trinity Leeds they will be able to map where there are and how to get to the store they want to visit.
“We’re working on the next version – a Google map showing where you are and giving live information,” said Mr Curtis. “You’ll be able to personalise the app to suit your needs. You can put the retailers you’re most interested in first.”
A Google product search will allow shoppers to search for any item, say an LBD (little black dress), and will inform them which retailers have LBDs in their size.
Some retailers will even be able to superimpose the LBD over a customer’s body so they can try on the dress virtually or see it in a different colour or print.
“It’s all about personalisation – how to help retailers succeed,” said Mr Curtis.
Trinity Leeds will be launching a number of new digital initiatives that are seen as a trial for the rest of Land Securities’ retail portfolio.
A network of digital screens will include two giant digital video walls and two large format screens which will allow shoppers to interact through gesture recognition.
They will also show centre information including details of retailer offers and real time passenger information for the latest news on public transport.
Land Securities will be the first landlord to offer free wi-fi, allowing Trinity Leeds to provide shoppers with the option to click and collect, browse and buy or provide information during their visit via the website or the app.
“People don’t want slow speeds so we’ve made sure complimentary wi-fi will be available. It’s no good searching for a product if you haven’t got a great signal,” said Mr Curtis.
He said retailers believe there is a benefit to making it simple for customers to access the internet while shopping.
At first the industry was wary of consumers having instant access to information on their competitors’ products and prices, but it decided that the benefits outweigh the risks.
“There is now a much clearer realisation of the benefits of offering fast internet connections for customers,” said Mr Curtis. “Mamas & Papas, for instance, has made a commitment to wi-fi because it wants shoppers to be able to easily access the customer reviews of products on its website.”
Mr Curtis said Land Securities has done research and found that a lot of people are accessing websites in its shopping centres.
However nine out of 10 purchases are made offline and four out of ten consumers prefer to research online and purchase offline.
Some 54 per cent said they don’t buy online because they want to see a product before they purchase it and 16 per cent said they don’t buy online because they want the purchase immediately.
“There may be people comparing prices, but there are others who say ‘I’m here and I want to buy the product now. I don’t want to wait’,” said Mr Curtis.
“The digital landscape is changing retail, but we’re still sociable creatures. We want to ask about a product – we want it now and we want to check it fits properly.”
He said that retailers understand that to do well they need to offer a great shopping experience.
Land Securities’ retail portfolio director Gerald Jennings, said: “The growth of online shopping is an opportunity for those retailers and property owners who embrace the technology that modern consumers use.
“Retailers are seeing this technology from pcs to smart phones as a means to increase customer loyalty and an opportunity rather than a threat.”
He said that the majority of Trinity Leeds’ retailers will have a click and collect service for customers.
“This maintains footfall and also provides the opportunity to sell to the customer when they come to make their collection,” said Mr Jennings. “In our experience, the customer may also stop for a coffee or a meal and with this in mind the leisure aspect of centres is becoming increasingly more important.”
At the heart of the city...
Trinity Leeds is a new urban regeneration development located in Leeds’ prime shopping district bounded by Briggate, one of the top ten busiest streets in the UK.
It is situated in the heart of the city with one million sq ft of shopping and leisure and will include over 120 new shops, stores and restaurants, bringing big international brands, fashion, food, arts and culture to Leeds.
The £350m development is the only major retail destination under construction in the UK.
It will house a number of leading international brands including Mango, Hollister, Superdry, Topshop/Topman, H&M, Marks & Spencer’s, Primark, Everyman and D&D London.
The centre has attracted an impressive level of retail commitment with 90 per cent of the scheme pre-let or in solicitors’ hands. The latest retailer to sign up is designer brand Armani Exchange.
Land Securities is keen to extend and improve the food and beverage offer in line with greater demand from shoppers for places to eat and drink.
“We are allocating more than 20 per cent of space for catering, ” said Land Securities’ retail portfolio director Gerald Jennings. “Consumers want more than just shopping.”