Every holiday season, RevTech Ventures goes on a deep reconnaissance mission in the market it serves with its retail tech themed accelerator program. We move our business from the Dallas Entrepreneur Center (The DEC) to Galleria Dallas every December to operate our Dallas Cityscape Exhibit.
Dallas Cityscape is an interactive exhibit of Dallas area landmarks constructed with millions of LEGO® bricks. Every year, the Galleria donates premium storefront space and we donate our exhibit in order to raise much-needed operating funds for early childhood education in Dallas. This year’s beneficiary is Educational First Steps, a certification program for daycare centers in the greater DFW area. For $2, children can tour the exhibit, find the hidden clues in the “I Spy” game, and build their own LEGO® masterpiece. We typically have around 10,000 visitors during our annual opening of the exhibit.
Technology implementation in a shopping mall isn’t immediately obvious – after all, most is in the form of invisible software running in the background of a store’s operations. Some things are easy to spot, though, like point of sale (POS) systems, digital signage, and security tags on merchandise. If you look more closely, you might notice hidden cameras, RFID tags, and beacons that measure traffic, provide security, push out digital offers and location-based marketing.
2015 was the year of the mobile wallet, so we surveyed retailers in the Galleria and discovered that just 6 of 145 stores accept Apple Pay; even fewer accept Samsung Pay. Looks like it will be a while before we can leave the wallet at home!
Galleria Dallas experiences a deluge of over one million visitors during the holiday season. We observed a number of areas in which their holiday operations could be improved with the help of technology:
- Parking: Like most shopping centers, parking at the Galleria is difficult in December! Simon Properties, the owner of Galleria Dallas, has an investment in PARKiFi, a technology that uses sensors to show real-time availability of parking spaces. What a great way to reduce parking time and increase shopping time!
- Door Counters: Unbelievably, the only way the Galleria currently estimates customer traffic is by counting cars entering their garages and using an average occupants per vehicle multiplier. There are several cloud-based solutions that can pinpoint customer traffic including point of entry and store(s) visited.
- Digital Signage: In place of traditional maps, interactive digital way-finding signage could provide better service while extracting actionable data from search analytics.
- Ice Rink Queue: Instead of having customers spend hours in line for the popular ice rink, a simple app could be used that texts customers when it’s their time to skate. This would bring increased revenue to merchants by decreasing wait time; also would bring opportunity to text additional activities in the mall (like Dallas Cityscape!).
In summary, our month in the Galleria was most productive. We were able to raise thousands of dollars for a great cause while bringing holiday joy to thousands of families. All the while, we were getting a better understanding of the challenges in a retail environment that can be solved through technology implementation.