Customer Case Study: Starwood Retail Deploys Smart Space Technology

Author TouchSource

Starwood Retail Partners Redefines Shopping for a New Generation

Starwood Retail Partners is recreating the way consumers experience retail and evolving brick and mortar centers for a new generation of shoppers. Founded in 2012, Starwood is now the 5th largest manager of regional malls in the United States. With 30 unique properties nationwide, Starwood Retail Centers draw more than 100 million shopping visitors annually, strongly contesting the narrative of a stalling shopping mall industry. What sets Starwood apart is their approach to redefining what it means to be a modern-day retail center.

Pioneering an Industry in Transformation

As the retail industry wrestles to evolve and big box retailers like Sears leave behind large footprints of vacant square footage, Starwood’s model reinvents these former anchor spaces. Starwood Retail Partners repurpose these spaces into pop-up marketplaces and blank canvases for new industry partners. Now office spaces, entertainment attractions, restaurant developments, fitness, and health facilities are all finding themselves integrated into Starwood Retail centers. By strategically integrating mixed-use businesses into its retail properties, Starwood is transforming shopping malls into curated centers of society and setting a new industry standard in its wake.

Finding Partners in Innovation

Integrating multiple industries into Starwood Retail Centers creates an even more diverse portfolio of moving pieces to manage. Starwood needed a solution to keep their centers agile to change and cost effective while paving the way to establish industry-defining connected retail spaces and lifestyle centers.

To do this, Starwood partnered with PlaceWise Digital and TouchSource. PlaceWise Digital, the leading provider of digital shopper engagement services to the Shopping Center industry, and TouchSource, the industry leader in interactive digital kiosks and displays, had previously paired up to create a turnkey solution designed to simplify and enhance the user experience in retail centers nationwide. This solution and focus on digital innovation where people live, work and play made the partnership an easy choice for Starwood.

“Our goal is to engage people where they work, shop and relax,” said Ajay Kapoor, CEO of TouchSource. “The technology that connects is evolving fast. From IOT and big data to high-speed mobility, these tools let us deliver personalized, relevant experiences to on-the-go consumers. As an innovator that catapulted to the top of the industry in a few short years, Starwood saw and seized on that potential and made it real for its customers.”

Solutions that Matter Business Agility & Cost Efficiency

By integrating these digital signage solutions into their properties Starwood gained much more than a new directory. TouchSource solutions provide integrated wayfinding and mapping that allows users to click on individual stores, restaurants and entertainment for more information and easily download wayfinding maps to their phone to guide them directly to their destination. All mapping is dynamically updated and integrated into the TouchSource kiosk through the mall’s website for easy updating and operational simplicity. This website auto-integration saves marketing and property managers hundreds of hours spent in manual updating. Now when a change is made on the website ​like a new rotating store, event or a change in advertising it is automatically synced through this robust integration. Transitioning to holiday messaging, center events, or even large tenant changes can be done simply with a few clicks or via the TouchSource managed service, drastically saving properties time and money.​

PlaceWise’s integration also allows the solution to integrate into retailer’s online advertising content. This creates a consistent experience in-person and online, enabling retailers to engage with consumers and extract meaningful data in real time. As a result, Starwood draws more business for their tenants, saving time in keeping the technology updated, and providing a stream of consumer information. ​

By combining the PlaceWise Digital online experience and TouchSource in-building experience, our teams have saved countless hours and our marketing is now consistent across all platforms,” said Starwoods’ Brian Price. ​

Consumer Experience & Actionable Analytics​

These digital experience displays offer engaging, relevant information on area attractions while gathering user insight, overall usage, interaction and demographics. By uniting digital information into physical locations, Starwood not only delivers a more engaging customer experience, it also provides data-fueled insights to retail stores and new mixed-use partners. Analytics can be accessed in real time using a Google Analytics dashboard that interfaces directly with each unit in the field, allowing administrators to quickly login to obtain data snapshots. Starwood centers gain insight on what their customers are looking for, what stores are generating the most business and can expand their customer database along the way. The intelligent sensors are capable of measuring age, gender and mood while tracking attention time and views. This allows advertisers to customize content for specific demographics. ​

By using the TouchSource directory solution with PlaceWise Digital’s retail content integration, Starwood can engage customers with the content shoppers seek. This solution also gives shopping center owners, managers and retailers more information on what their shoppers are looking for through actionable analytics that capitalize on foot traffic and keep shoppers coming back. ​

consumer’s phones through Near Field Communication (NFC), QR codes, and SMS.  Currently, data shows that between 5-10%  of users are starting their directory interaction with deals and events.  This represents deep engagement and shows brands promoting via the TouchSource solution benefiting. These in-person deals drive hundreds of customers to directly engage with promotions retail centers are driving and can target increased traffic to individual tenants.

The digital experience in retail has never been more important to the future of the shopping mall,” said John Dee, president, PlaceWise Digital.

Investing in the Future of Community

Online shopping has allowed consumers to demand experiences that are instant and curated to their preferences, but it can’t replace the look, feel and touch experience of brick and mortar stores or the desire for human interaction and community. By creating compelling, personal and engaging experiences in new work-live-play hubs, Starwood is turning the industry on its ear. To move fast and win market share along with hearts and minds, Starwood’s strategy includes partnering with companies like PlaceWise Digital and TouchSource to increase its’ efficiency and agility while building a seamless transition between digital demands and real-life experiences. 

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