On the Startup Road with Mallcomm USA
I had the pleasure of getting the inside scoop from startup, Mallcomm USA. Here are some excerpts from the conversation.....
Michael Beckerman: What’s the history of the company? What are the backgrounds of the Founder(s)?
Mallcomm USA: Mallcomm was created by Toolbox Group, an award-winning marketing agency established in 2000 and now operating in 16 countries globally, with business hubs in the USA, Poland, Scandinavia, Germany and Spain.
Toolbox Group was started by Michelle Buxton a leading expert and innovator in the global shopping center marketing arena. Driven by innovation, Michelle has a vast range of experience in marketing, consumer behaviours and insight, strategic development, branding and more recently in the development of Mallcomm as the most powerful platform in the industry and also the technology of choice for most of the world’s leading shopping mall owners and operators.
Leading the Mallcomm team is David Fuller-Watts. David is responsible for digital marketing strategy and implementation across all Toolbox Group businesses. In his work, he relies on a broad range of both mainstream and fringe technology solutions for every business environment. David truly is ahead of the curve in terms of innovative content and experience, time and again proving that he comes up with solutions to challenges others haven’t even acknowledged yet. What makes David different from other digital marketing specialists is his deep understanding of the customer journey and his unique approach to analyzing data in ways that ensure that the customers are getting a personalized message.
MB: What led you to found Mallcomm and what was the original vision?
Mallcomm: Mallcomm was born from the need for shopping center management to engage with their retailers and manage all internal and external operational teams more efficiently. From our experience in managing marketing for our clients we saw how inefficient communications were within the whole retail community. We saw that there could be a better way to get information out to retailers, and get reported data back from them, than web based intranet systems that no-one ever used, emails that store managers never got or even security guards walking round with memos that no-one ever read.
We saw that during critical communications it was extremely difficult to get messages out to retailers and the entire retail community but even more challenging to get responses back from them quickly resulting in compromised safety and accountability. In 2012 London suffered riots and looting not seen before in this way. Despite all the latest communication systems, shopping center teams could not get the messages out to the staff fast enough about closing times, security warnings and police updates. Now, Mallcomm covers most of central London's business to business communication and workers are informed faster and able to respond.
We saw that communications within the operational side of a shopping center - security, custodial services, customer service, maintenance etc. - was also inefficient and impeding the delivery of a great customer experience. And finally, especially from our role as marketers, we saw that there was a better way to engage retailers in marketing activity. From there we then saw additional benefits to truly create a strong retail community such as offering center retail employee discounts and job listings that empower retailers to drive their own sales and save time and money growing their business to a captive audience. A retail offer is uploaded by store managers into Mallcomm every 15 minutes, maximising their revenue growth at a time when retail stores need to be pro-active.
MB: What pain points are you solving today for the commercial real estate industry?
Mallcomm: It’s always been a challenge to engage retailers in center activities and meetings. Often times memos are delivered door to door by security or other mall staff and quite often, the memo doesn’t even get to the intended recipients.
Mallcomm puts all relevant information that a retailer needs literally in their hands and is available 24/7. Job postings, marketing plans, calendars, evacuation information, meeting announcements, maintenance and cleaning requests, employee discounts and even survey options.
Security in public gathering places has become an important topic and with the ability to reach the entire retail community instantly through push notifications, Mallcomm can provide a valuable service to the operating team.
When there is an emergency in the center most centers have a system in place to evacuate, but once off the property, how does the center management team communicate with stores and employees to let them know updates and when to return to the center? Mallcomm can do this.
Mallcomm works by integrating existing operational systems – security, data collection and reporting, facilities and marketing, with day-to-day communication functions…all together into one application that everyone in the retail community has access to.
Mallcomm has the capability to collect daily sales from retailers and report store performance to store management as well as the center management team allowing for a better understanding of the business immediately rather than months afterwards. Something that has not been successfully achieved in the US.
The real goal is to transform communication with retailers and offer a better platform for the center and management of the operational tasks making the center more efficient while delivering the best customer experience.
Mallcomm also works as a seamless integration tool that can tie multiple systems together so your retail store managers know whatever they need they can find the answer in Mallcomm. Thus simplifying communication and providing a system that retailers are using on a daily basis.
MB: What are the core features of the product and who are some of your customers?
Mallcomm: Mallcomm builds stronger retail-center relationships by using smartphone technology to instantly get the right messaging to the right people at the right time. Store employees, center management, store managers, cleaning teams, security, marketing, maintenance and parking are all able to communicate effectively what they need, whenever they need it.
Mallcomm is used by some of the world’s busiest shopping malls and areas such as London’s West End and across portfolios for owners such as Unibail-Rodamco with capital value of $61.1 billion. Mallcomm made its debut in the US in January with Craig Realty Group’s Citadel Outlets in Los Angeles.
Mallcomm has more than 250,000 users worldwide, is used by six of the top ten shopping center owners in Europe in more than 70 centers and by over 6000 stores and 2800 brands.
MB: Tell us about your product upgrade-how does it work and what does it do?
Mallcomm: Mallcomm has many features that are able to enhance a shopping center environment. our clients benefit from the experiences of the leading property companies to continually drive innovation for our clients. Features such as Mallcomm360 - a full marketing reporting dashboard that joins the internal promotions, events, sales and footfall data together with your marketing channel analytics such as website, social media and consumer facing applications to generate real-time 360 degree reports on the success of the campaign.
Mallcomm is also working with Asset teams to provide more efficient leasing and CRM opportunities within their portfolios and, of course, Mallcomm is a fundamental go-to solution for security teams with easy to use options for geo-fencing messages, tailoring responses and sending multiple messages, to multiple types of users all at the same time.
MB: What are your future plans?
Mallcomm: Mallcomm is already the leading and most used platform in Europe so there is no reason why it can't be the leading communications and management technology in the USA and Canada and further afield.
We will continue to develop Mallcomm to suit emerging requirements as the nature of retail and the shopping destination environment changes. As innovators we always strive to be one step ahead of the needs of the retail community, so our solutions can make a measurable difference.
Other information we may want to mention…
Awards – Best Enterprise App Appster Awards (Europe)
Mallcomm can also be fully tailored to mixed-use, Office and Residential property portfolios.