Today, shopping is no longer just about buying things – it is about how people spend their leisure time. Service, entertainment and dining are important aspects. ECE can react to changing customer needs anytime with its “Future Labs”, its testing areas. At these three centers, new offers and services are constantly tested and developed further. The result is a mix of digital innovations, a combination of online and offline offers and services across the entire Customer Journey which make shopping a unique experience – and every center a Third-Place with real extra value.
Search online, buy offline: With the „Digital Mall“ ECE offers customers a seamless omni-channel experience. On the Alstertal-Einkaufszentrum’s website (www.alstertal-einkaufszentrum.de) customers can experience the diversity of goods for sale in various shops in the “Product” category, get information online on what is on offer, reserve the items, and subsequently buy them in-store at the relevant retailer in the shopping center. ECE, as the first shopping center operator in Germany, fulfills the desire that many customers have to experience holistic, omni-channel shopping with this pilot project.
A parking card with the latest RFID technology and electronic payment saves customers the queuing and the search for small change at pay machines. With “Easy to Park”, visitors can pass the barrier to the parking garage simply automatically without having to obtain a ticket.
There are 20 multi-sensor stations at Aquis Plaza in Aachen. Special sounds, pleasing scents and changing light elements create a fascinating shopping atmosphere. These are mostly found in entrance areas, parking decks and customer corridors.
400 kids visit one of the 18 playgrounds at ECE centers each day. These “Digital Playgrounds” with LED floors and augmented reality cameras allow our youngest visitors to play a variety of different games. The latest innovative playground is the “Kids Planet”, which is currently tested in ECE's Future Labs. Its new version will be equipped with HD screens and Kinect cameras. The play areas are made to keep the kids in motion, let their movements affect the game, and interact with one another. The “Kids Planet” also features a seating area for parents with a cell phone charging station and a “buggy parking space”.
The “Car Finder” makes it easier for more than 1.000 visitors per month to find their car. By scanning the QR code with their mobile phone, visitors can enter the position of their car into their cell phone and retrieve its location again at one of the pay stations once shopping is done. The web-based application will then guide them back to their parking spot. “Car Finder” works on any device.
Every month, 6000 photos are taken in every "Selfie Photo Box", which are often shared online just seconds later. The box is one of the digital and interactive entertainment features that add more fun to our visitors' shopping experience. And it has become very popular: The “Selfie Photo Box” has been installed at eight centers; furthermore, it will tour 60 centers in Germany in 2016.
The “Infogates” take more than a 10.000 calls per month. Like the “3D Wayfinder“, they are part of the centers’ extensive navigation offering. At the live chat customer information, a specially trained customer service team responds to all customer questions via video link. Moreover, visitors can use the “InfoGate” to print information such as directions.
Every month, directions are retrieved from “3D Wayfinders” 180,000 times. With Google Maps and the live-chat information booth “Info-Gate”, the guiding system is part of the comprehensive navigation services in the centers, which is supplemented by floor plans and a customer information desk.
The “Love to Shop” app has been already downloaded 300,000 times. This digital application provides visitors offers and information based on the so-called geo-fencing technology, once they are close to their favorite center. The app contains sharing, collecting, and competition features that are constantly developed further at the Future Labs of ECE. Besides, indoor navigation with iBeacons, services such as “Click & Collect” and center voucher ordering, which also includes shipping services, are tested there.
Shopping without Schlepping: “Same Day Delivery” offers customers the opportunity to have their purchases delivered directly to their homes on the same evening at an affordable charge of 3 to 6 euros. Timeslot deliveries are also possible.