Scott Prigge is Regency's Senior Vice President of National Operations currently overseeing property management, specialty leasing, and the company's sustainability program.
The shopping experience has never been more data-driven.
The customer, retailer and shopping center now all have unparalleled access to data, and one of the more interesting data points in our industry today is dwell time.
What is Dwell Time?
Dwell time is the all-important, historically hard-to-quantify ingredient that goes into keeping a center relevant, connected, and successful. More simply, this term describes how much time people spend on your property that isn’t just to “grab-and-go” with their everyday needs. While it’s important to provide amenities and services that people need convenient access to, it’s just as important to give people a reason to stay, gather, and connect.
Increasing Dwell Time at Your Center
Improving dwell time at your center is usually attributable to placemaking, architectural design, outdoor environments, etc. However, Regency has also seen some other interesting markers to provide some valuable data on how people move and collect at our centers. The first time we were able to quantify this was with electric vehicle charging stations like Tesla and Volta. We were able to get some basic data on how long people were charging their cars, which was roughly about an hour. Although there isn’t a way to track a customer’s path-to-sale directly from a charging station, the anecdotal feedback from tenants at these properties gave us a clearer picture about how these stations were driving more foot traffic and sales to their locations. This might not seem initially impactful, but they do add to the convenience and experience of the shopper.
Using Beacon Technology to Track and Improve Dwell Time
Nowadays, we are using a large amount of our own proprietary market research information. This is a cultivated and tested system of various methods of information sourcing that we have fine-tuned to get the best picture possible. This is used to achieve a host of things that includes the ability to pinpoint increases and decreases in dwell time. We also look at it as a way to measure trends and see how redevelopments, remerchandising, and changing traffic patterns impact the overall success of the center. From a remerchandising standpoint, our teams are being extremely thoughtful about making sure our tenant mix is synergistic; meaning that who/what we put in the center enhances the other elements, holistically.
The Changing Role of Amenities
On top of that, having amenities within the center to help keep people there is important. We are being smarter in ways that haven’t normally been looked at. In the past we might have just stuck a bench somewhere without any directive. That bench might face a bank when people obviously want to look at something more pleasing. We’re designing the new gathering areas in order to make the seating and environment captivating and interesting. However, it doesn’t need to be harder than it is and often times requires a practical approach. For example, we may have created a fire pit and seating area at a center, but with our continued reevaluation exercises we have decided that now it needs a covered element during the summer due to the heat.
How Events Can Improve Dwell Time
Our local events are also helping with some of our larger centers to foster a connection within the community. Tenants will come and go, and people need to feel comfortable that this is their center, whether they want to shop or socialize. These events, either physical or through social media, are attuned to the surrounding community creating a place where people want to gather. It’s difficult to directly quantify, but attracting people together and experiencing what we offer is always the overarching goal. By driving traffic we are speaking the same language as our retailers, so instead of a tenant/landlord relationship it becomes more of a partnership. Our job is to create environments and reasons for people to visit, which in turn gives our retailers the opportunity to turn that traffic into continued success.
Dwell, Dwell, Dwell
As owners and operators we want to encourage dwell time as much as we can. Merchandising synergy is huge, but that data we’re tracking is key in understanding consumer behavior patterns. We continue to use shopper trends to create that synergistic environment to develop a place where people like to go shop and socialize.
Increasing dwell time is a critical element in creating a valuable shopping experience for our customers and maintaining a vibrant and successful shopping center.
It’s why Regency Centers has always prioritized our Fresh Look philosophy, working to create a dynamic mix of merchandising, placemaking and connecting people at our centers.