Technology boost in retail centres
South African retailers and centres are embracing technology. At Menlyn Park, a super-regional mall in Pretoria, tech advancements in the pipeline include dedicated charging stations for electric and hybrid vehicles, licence-plate recognition and the development of an analytical parking app for mobile devices that will allow users to locate their vehicles. The centre does head counts, which also tag an individual with a unique number to prevent double counting.
Menlyn Park has installed smart-metering systems that ensure accurate on-time billings for shops. Menlyn Park GM Olive Ndebele says the centre’s tenants are also embracing the change. “Most of our tenants oﬀer online shopping platforms for customers and this motivates others to follow suit. Energy eﬃciency is also important so we have improved our technology with regards to air-conditioning, lifts and escalators. We are in the process of partnering up with Google for further technological advancements,” she says. Amanda Dilima, retail leasing consultant for the V&A Waterfont in Cape Town, says the centre is embracing technology. “We recently embarked on an exciting project that involves voice-guided location screens in the centre, which are supplemented by the mobile app. This voice guides the customer to where they wish to go in the mall in real time,” Dilima says.
The app provides information to users about their current location while they navigate. Bedford Centre in Bedfordview, Germiston, launched Johannesburg’s ﬁrst virtual reality arcade in October 2016. Says South African Council of Shopping Centres CEO Amanda Stops: “It is not a matter of technology or online stores replacing the physical counterparts but rather how the two can complement each other in a harmonious way.”