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Malls hope shoppers need another app


The nation’s newest mall in Sarasota, Fla., introduced shoppers to a new app with interesting navigation and personalization capabilities. Now the trick is driving downloads and usage.

Taubman Properties opened the 880,000-sq.-ft. Mall at University Town Center in Sarasota in mid-October – the only enclosed mall to open in the U.S. this year – with notable anchor tenants such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s, Dillard’s and 100 other specialty stores and restaurants. The property at I-75 and University Parkway is billed as a world-class fashion and dining destination. In other words, the kind of place where most shoppers have modern smartphones that are already loaded with apps.

Now, Taubman is vying for space on their screens too with its free “Mall at UTC” iOS mobile shopping app intended to make finding stores, styles and sales easier and more personalized. The company faces an uphill battle to drive downloads and consistent utilization, something even major retailers with well-established and generous loyalty programs have found to be challenging.

"Our new mobile app changes the shopping experience, bringing mall navigation and personalization to the forefront like never before," said Ivan Frank, director of digital marketing for Taubman. "Taubman is pleased to be the leader in bringing this technology to shoppers to enhance their in-mall experience."

The app created by MXM, iMedia’s 2013 Mobile Agency of the Year, is said to offer first-of-its-kind indoor navigation technology developed by SPREO. Taubman plans to roll out the app to all of its U.S. properties in the coming year.

What makes the app special, according to Taubman, is that it incorporates SPREO's proprietary, real-time, mall-based navigation powered by Bluetooth beacons. In perhaps the most extensive use of Bluetooth in any mall worldwide, the app also remembers favorite stores and delivers personalized maps, style inspiration, sales and promotions right to the phones of shoppers, according to Taubman.

"Through our work with Taubman, we are leading the way in using radio frequency signals for precise navigation in large, multi-level spaces like The Mall at University Town Center. This is truly a unique amenity for shoppers,” said SPREO Co-Founder and CEO Avi Sacajiu.

The apps includes map it, plan it and love it functionality to help shoppers easily locate stores, restaurants and entertainment venues. The plan it functionality allows shoppers to create trip itineraries. Love it means shoppers can create favorite stores and receive recommendations.

According to Taubman, the Mall at UTC app and the planned 2015 rollout continues the company’s commitment to bringing the latest high-tech, customer-focused amenities to shoppers. In addition to the new app, UTC also features the Sarasota Visitors Center, electric car charging stations, free Wi-Fi, interactive touchscreen directories and numerous charging stations for electronics.

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