Last week, Allison Collister (who heads up our retail solutions team) and I had the pleasure of attending the NOI+ and Mocial conferences in Orlando, Florida. Hosted by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), NOI+ focuses on asset management priorities and maximizing net operating income (NOI) at retail properties, while the Mocial conference is geared towards mobile-, social- and location-based media for retail properties.
At the conference, I was asked to participate on an illuminating panel, “Exploring the Challenges and Breakthroughs for Shopping Centers in an Omni-Channel Environment.” Our subject was challenging; luckily each of the panel members brought a unique perspective to the discussion. I was joined on the panel by a fabulous group of industry experts:
- Nicholas M. Lillo, president of Bianca Mano Corp.
- Jeff Gaul, SVP of real estate for Chico’s FAS, Inc.
- Lynda Newman from The Forbes Company
- The incomparable Becky Maccardini, principal at RM Resources and past chairman and trustee for ICSC.
Our biggest topic was the growth of e-commerce, and what percentage of the total retail market will ultimately be sold online. Current numbers hover between five and ten percent, depending on the source, but that is changing. I argued that online will eventually account for 20% or more, but brick and mortar stores will continue to grow as consumers demand more seamless expressions of brands with the unification of mobile and in-store experiences.
Another great feature of the conferences was the annual U.S. MAXI Awards. The awards recognize best practices in retail marketing, new media strategies and NOI enhancement programs. I was extremely excited to see several MAXI awards go to tow of our wonderful clients.
Over the last two years, we have worked with Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) to launch a new WordPress-based platform for almost 50 of their retail properties around the country. This partnership has been a success, and it earned JLL a New Media Silver MAXI for websites, for Weaving a Better Web.
JLL also won honors in other categories, including:
- Silver in New Media – Best Use of Social Media: Making Social Simple – and Effective
- Silver in New Media – Integrated Online Campaign: Retail Intelligence Means Valuable Online Presence
- Gold Maxi in Traditional Marketing – Cause-Related Marketing: Paying it Forward Community Day
Another client of ours, Plaza Las Américas, won a Best Use of Social Media Gold MAXI for its social media launch. For this project, we worked with our long-time partner agency The Dealey Group. The Dealey Group created a fantastic on-property and social promotion, and the Imaginuity team coordinated the web aspects of the initiative. Today, Plaza engages with over 300,000 fans through Facebook.
I enjoyed the quality time spent with our friends and customers. I also enjoyed the exposure to numerous industry experts and their varying points of view on the future of retail marketing and the shopping center industry. The concept of combining the two conferences was new for ICSC this year, and I look forward to 2013 as the organization builds on this year’s successes.