As the European market leader for inner-city shopping centers, ECE Projektmanagement G.m.b.H. & Co. KG is active in 16 countries and manages a total of 196 centers. This is why we are intensively considering the question of what the shopping center of the future will look like – above all, in respect of ongoing digitalization and the continually changing requirements of our clients.
Joanna Fisher, Managing Director Center Management
"We are continually having to reinvent ourselves in order to be able to meet the requirements of our clients. Hence, we specifically address current trends and test, for example, new technologies in our Future Labs for an even more personal shopping experience."
We have developed ECE Future Labs so that we can examine these matters in more detail. Three shopping centers have been selected to act as test laboratories where innovative technologies and new services can be thoroughly tested. The principle is simple: Developments which are popular with the customers will be followed up and implemented in other centers. Developments which are not popular will be removed from the program and replaced with new ideas.
Sebastian Baumann, Head of Department ECE Future Labs
"Each innovative technology and every new service offer must be able to prove direct customer benefits. Only when this is proven, do new offers have long-term chances of success and make it to the roll-out."
From the headquarters in Hamburg, the Future Labs team prepares an intensive screening of relevant innovations and summarizes them in a comprehensive innovation radar. This is based on four elements, or touchpoints, which are part of the customer journey in the center: Mobility, orientation, convenience and entertainment. Normally, customers come into contact with at least one of our Future Labs services from each sector during their shopping experience.
Carolin Sternkopf, Specialist at ECE Future Labs
"It is important to us that the customer is accompanied and supported by us during their entire "journey" and is able to enjoy a top class shopping experience."
This form of scouting is coincidentally the first phase of the ECE innovation cycle. Its purpose is to recognize the trends of tomorrow which may be relevant for our centers. Themes with a high relevance for ECE and sufficient market maturity are then tested in the Future Labs in the form of a "proof of concept".
In this so-called proofing stage, we determine in a further process whether a concept is, for example, technically feasible. Once this hurdle has been overcome, the testing phase starts. In this phase, promising and realizable projects are presented to the customers live in individual centers: The best market research does in fact take place directly in the market. After all, everything developed in the Future Labs is focused on the customers.
Only when this phase is successfully completed and a service proves to be well accepted, do we start with the roll-out of the project in other centers. This also applies for the important inclusion of international markets for which the third Future Lab in Marmara Park, Istanbul is responsible.
We already offer the customers today the exceptional shopping experience of tomorrow so that they continue to enjoy visiting our centers. We surprise and impress the customers with our innovative services and make our centers their "feel good place".