Exclusive Q&A: Simon brings outlet shopping online – Chain Store Age - eComEmpireStore + Brought to You By: Robert Villapane Ramos

Exclusive Q&A: Simon brings outlet shopping online – Chain Store Age

Premium mall owner Simon is partnering with e-commerce site Rue Gilt Groupe to offer digital value shopping.Chain Store Age recently spoke with Neel Grover, CEO, Shop Premium Outlets  ShopPremiumOutlets.com, about how and why Simon operates the e-commerce platform dedicated to providing an outlet center-type shopping experience online.[Read more: Simon to invest $280 million in online sales partnership]What […]



Premium mall owner Simon is partnering with e-commerce site Rue Gilt Groupe to offer digital value shopping.
Chain Store Age recently spoke with Neel Grover, CEO, Shop Premium Outlets  ShopPremiumOutlets.com, about how and why Simon operates the e-commerce platform dedicated to providing an outlet center-type shopping experience online.
[Read more: Simon to invest $280 million in online sales partnership]
What made Simon decide to co-launch Shop Premium Outlets?
Simon owns over 70 outlet malls. As more consumers want to shop outlets, there’s a really big opportunity to bring that outlet business online, because a lot of the brands that have physical outlets don’t actually have an online version of the outlet. It also provides a space for brands that don’t have outlets, but want an opportunity to sell off-price or on-sale product in a more collaborative approach than on their own website.

How does Simon integrate this online platform with its brick-and-mortar shopping centers?
For the most part, Shop Premium Outlets is a separate platform, but we are doing a lot of different things to integrate with Simon shopping centers. We market to the consumers that are shopping at the outlets who have signed up to receive online discounts, promotions and offers. So, they are being introduced to our brand.

But we’ve taken it much further from there. Shop Premium Outlets has fully integrated some Simon retailers into our marketplace, meaning they have done a technical integration so that we have their product catalog and the customer purchases from us. And then the retailer ships the product to the consumer.
Shop Premium Outlets has also added a few things. With some of our retail partners, you can buy an item from our site and pick it up at the outlet center. So, we are actually driving BOPIS into our partners’ brick-and-mortar stores, which I don’t believe any other marketplace has really done.
[Read more: Survey: Consumers have high holiday shipping expectations]
We are tying into not only our retailer partners’ third-party logistics (3PL) inventory or their warehouse inventory, but also tying into their store inventory. And now we are running livestream shopping events out of some of the different outlet stores.
Shop Premium Outlets has run roughly 30 livestream events so far and we have another slew of events happening soon. We do these events on location at different Simon Premium Outlets centers, where our team goes in, works for the retailer in its store, usually one of our team members or an influencer works along with the retailer’s staff.
During the livestream, we highlight a selection of products and highlight the store and the products, and sell a limited number of items at that time. But we’re introducing the full store to our broader audience to show them all the opportunities they have to come and shop in store.
We utilize multiple different livestream platforms. There is an in-house platform, and there are different third-party platforms being tested, as well.
Shop Premium Outlets is trying to leverage the stores as much as possible, from inventory to locations to pick-up, and highlighting what’s there today as well as what’s coming in soon. We’re driving a deep connection between the stores and our site.
What technology are you running to support this type of omnichannel retailing?
We built a lot of the connections ourselves. On the omnichannel side of things, we’re tying into retailers’ POS systems and pulling in their inventory and data. On the front end, Shop Premium Outlets uses Shopify, which offers a lot of microservices, but we really build out a lot of the different pieces ourselves.

How does Shop Premium Outlets use data to improve customer engagement for the retailers on your platform?
Unlike any other marketplace, we really will share a lot of our data, with a consumer’s consent. We share a lot of data and enable the retailers to remarket to the consumers directly. We will help round out some of the demographic data to get the retailer smarter on who the consumer is.

With most marketplaces, it’s very much a transactional experience. You’re utilizing the marketplace to help drive sales. In our case, we’re not only helping drive sales, but we’re helping you get smarter on the customer and on the competitive set out there.
Where Shop Premium Outlets works very symbiotically with retailers is they bring their on-sale, clearance and outlet products on our site. We drive those sales, and they have the ability to remarket to those customers back into their full pricing environment. Shop Premium Outlets considers ourselves much more of a ‘shop-in-shop’ experience.
What type of loyalty functionality do you offer?
Right now, individual retailers can’t offer their own proprietary loyalty program through Shop Premium Outlets. We’re just now releasing enhanced promotions, so that if Shop Premium Outlets is running an offer where everyone earns one point per purchase per dollar spent, a retailer can magnify that and offer something above and beyond.

We’re now talking to some retail partners about tying their membership loyalty programs into ours. So not only will a customer be able to join the Shop Premium Outlets loyalty program, but they’ll also be able to enter into an individual retailer’s loyalty program.
Are there any holiday promotions scheduled?
Absolutely. We will be running livestream holiday events at the outlet stores for sure. Also, we are seeing more and more retailers wanting to come to us now as they gear up for the holidays, so we are all working on some great promotions.

[Read more: Survey: Most consumers will shop online on these two holiday shopping days]
Are there any other future plans you can discuss?
Shop Premium Outlets is launching our new brand ambassador program that enables our consumers to create their own micro-mall of their favorite products and brands. And as they share that out, they will become ambassadors and really drive sales when the program can enable them to earn loyalty points by recommending their own their favorite products to their friends.

And we are just continuing to try to bring that product closer to the customer in a faster and more convenient manner. Utilizing the store inventory to accomplish this is definitely in our near-term plans.

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