Retailers are continually challenged to cater to the “social shopper” across all channels. By connecting the physical and digital shopping experience, merchants are able to foster a community of brand enthusiasts. A new service is helping the retail industry reach those goals, by creating an integrated media network among small and mid-sized shopping centers throughout the U.S. The Shoptopia Network was recently launched by Forest City Commercial Management, in partnership with PlaceWise Media, a provider of place-based content and integrated marketing channels.
Shoptopia combines online, social, mobile and digital screen-based communications into an interactive experience and relationship with consumers. The Shoptopia Network is an expansion of the original Shoptopia social shopping platform created by Mallfinder Network. Through the partnership with Forest City and PlaceWise Media, the new Shoptopia Network enhances the relationship among malls, retailers, brands and shoppers with an interactive experience before, during and after shopping.
“The Shoptopia Network engages our shoppers with insights to all things fashionable, special offers and feedback from their peers,” said Jane Lisy, Forest City Enterprises VP of marketing for Commercial Management, and Chairwoman of the Shoptopia Network Advisory Board. “It’s a perfect integration of all the digital and physical shopping experiences. Shoppers are engaged, informed and rewarded for their participation.”
Shoptopia enables shoppers to access insider knowledge and receive special offers, rewards and event invitations. Content is syndicated and broadcast through personal computers, mobile devices, tablets, and in-mall digital experience walls, providing consumers with real digital interactions that are natural extensions of the shopping experience.
As PlaceWise’s charter partner for the original Shoptopia community, Forest City conducted a two-year study to explore the future of retail center marketing. A key focus of the study was the need to better understand digital channels and their influence on both online and bricks-and-mortar purchasing habits. Finding that frequent online shoppers still highly value the in-mall shopping experience, Forest City recognized that the integration of social networking channels with in-mall shopping was necessary to engage shoppers and provide them with a complete experience.
In other ShopTopia news, PlaceWise Media, announced that Madison Marquette is the next shopping center developer and operator to join the Shoptopia Network.
Shoptopia currently is available to consumers at 39 retail centers and will reach 23.4 million monthly shoppers, according to a company news release. By the end of 2011, PlaceWise projects that the Shoptopia Network will include 150 retail centers and reach more than 100 million monthly shoppers.
“Madison Marquette’s social media commitment has created new relationships between our centers and their shoppers,” said Kurt Ivey, Senior Vice President of Madison Marquette. “Shoptopia will allow us to deepen and further monetize those relationships by integrating our new media platforms and by opening them up to advertisers.”
“Expansion of the Shoptopia Network offers shopping center operators the scale to attract the interest and participation of brand sponsors and national advertisers,” Ivey said. “As an amenity to our centers, Shoptopia’s integrated communications platform provides significant added value for our national retail tenants. It also creates an exciting new opportunity for national advertisers to engage our most productive shoppers across multiple channels.”