Forest City to use mobile technology in study

Cleveland -- Forest City Commercial Management announced that it will test a new survey technology by U.K.-based Path Intelligence to track mall shopping behavior and flow by using mobile phones. 

The surveys will be conducted at Promenade Temecula in Southern California and Short Pump Town Center in Richmond, Va., from Black Friday to New Year’s Day. They mark the first use of this kind of technology in a mall setting.

The survey system, called FootPath Technology, consists of a small number of monitoring units installed throughout the center. The unit recognizes signals from shoppers’ mobile phones and sends the data to be evaluated. Personal information is protected, according to Jane Lisy, senior VP of marketing for Forest City Commercial Management.

“Before agreeing to test this technology, it was essential to determine and guarantee that the personal information of our shoppers would be completely anonymous to all parties involved and legally protected,” said Lisy. 

Signs have been posted at both shopping centers to inform customers that the survey is taking place.

Lisy said the survey data will be analyzed and compared with industry benchmarks about shopper behavior, including shopping patterns and length of stay, to identify trends.

FootPath Technology will show where shoppers cross-shop and whether they will go out of their way to visit a specific store. “Cross-shopping patterns can provide information to relocate retailers that are visited frequently to improve shopper convenience,” said Stephanie Shriver-Engdahl, VP of digital strategy. “The information will also help inform leasing as to what type of retailer might be added to further enhance an already successful shopping cluster, and data will also be provided on what events and promotions are most beneficial to retailers and attractive to shoppers.”

Among other benefits, Shriver-Engdahl said, being able to address congestion during the busy holiday shopping period is of particular interest and importance. Data can also potentially improve operational efficiencies, from basic maintenance to security.

“In the big picture, we can see using this additional insight in our marketing, operations, leasing and other programs to enhance the overall shopping experience for our customers and to help retailers maximize their opportunities,” Shriver-Engdahl added.