Technology is not the end all be all, or the one silver bullet for solving your customer’s problems – but it can be a great enabler.

This is wisdom Tim Weale and his company Mirvac Retail Solutions live by. As a property group in Australia, they’re out to solve their customer’s problems using technology as an enabler. And with three different customer types (retailers, consumers, and business units), it’s no easy feat. However, when you think holistically about the problems your customers have, you can discover more creative ways to solve them.

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John Rougeux: Hey, everyone, and welcome to another episode of People in Places. I’m John Rougeux, VP of marketing here at Skyfii and your host for today’s episode. Our guest for today is Tim Weale. Now, Tim comes from Sydney, Australia, where he’s national manager for Mirvac Retail Solutions. And he’s going to talk to us today about how he’s finding some new ways to solve customer problems using technology. So, I’m really excited for you guys to hear from him. Tim, welcome to the show. How are you doing today?

Tim Weale: Yeah. Good, thanks, John. And thanks for having me on the podcast today. I’m really excited to share our conversation with you.

John Rougeux: Yeah, yeah. You bet. To kick things off, could you just tell the audience a little bit more about yourself and what you’re up to at Mirvac?

Tim Weale: At Mirvac, we’re a diversified property group in Australia, and we have vehicles in residential office, industrial, and also in our retail space. And my role is in the retail team. Essentially, it’s to solve our customer problems using technology as an enabler. We don’t see technology being the be-all and end-all and the one silver bullet, however, it will really assist us to solve those problems. And our customers … We’ve got three customers, essentially, we break it down into. We’ve got our retailers who are in our centers. We’ve got our consumers, who obviously visit the center, and also ourselves as a business unit. So, they’re our three focus areas for solving customer jobs to be done.

John Rougeux: Good deal. I like how you set that up as technology is not something to pursue, necessarily, in and of itself, but it’s really an enabler for solving specific problems.

Tim Weale: Yeah.

John Rougeux: In a minute, we’re going to talk about these themes that you’ve got around this strategy called the “Connected urban customer strategy.” But maybe to set things up … You talked about these three groups. You’ve got your customers, you’ve got your retail tenants, and you’ve got, of course, your own business itself. Can you walk us through some of the specific problems that you’re thinking about trying to address first?

Tim Weale: Yeah. For sure, for sure. And there’s so many out there, and it’s unfortunate when people always tend to just reflect on their own personal behavior and try and solve those problems. But in retail, as you know, there’s so many different customer segments out there. In Australia, we have Nielsen definitions on it, and it’s called … There’s 400 different personas. Out of those 400 personas, we’ve narrowed that down into six personas that are appropriate to our consumers in our centers. Just as a bit of a background, our shopping centers, our strategy, is that we own and manage shopping centers that are in areas of medium to high density living, medium to high disposable income, and also low unemployment rates. So, they’re really hyper, urban, inner urban areas, and typically, that customer is quite a connected customer living in a small apartment. And the shopping center, essentially, becomes almost a third place where they can meet and catch up with people.

Tim Weale: How we defined our problems or our jobs to be done … We followed Clayton Christensen’s theories of innovation disruption. The Harvard professor that many of you may know quite well. And we almost follow his theories to the letter, and really to try and understand what our customer’s jobs to be done and what their problems are. So, we did a big, deep dive and we trained our summer interns in this theory and in questioning techniques, and taught them about what it’s like to ask questions so that you’re getting a real answer. Not just “yes, no” answers, because if you said to someone, “Oh, I can see that you came to do shopping today. Do you always come to this shopping center?” They’re more likely just to say, “Yes. Of course.” Whereas, we can, by asking deeper questions … And it’s almost like a three or four year old asking, “Why, why, why” all the time, you can really get deep into the problems and the reasons why they come to the center or why they potentially don’t.

Tim Weale: And that can be the same for the retail as well. That’s why they trade well and what attracts them to being in our centers or not. So, we did that exercise, and it was really, really interesting. And we came up with seven jobs to be done; the top seven. Three of those are consumer-focused, two were retailer-focused, and then we had the remainder were for ourselves as a business. But for today, probably the most important ones are really the retailers, and also, the consumers. So, the consumers … The top three jobs to be done that they had to do … They wanted to know what shops are available and where I can find the product that I’m looking for. And you can always swing back around, but just keep that word “the product” in the back of your mind for the moment.

Tim Weale: And the next one was … They wanted to know how to get to where I want to go using the pathway that will work for me. So, that screams of convenience. And then the third one, third job to be done, is, “I wanted to stay in touch with my friends and family inside the shopping center.” So, that was really quite important to us because it’s that thought of people living in smaller one bedroom and studio-type apartments, or small two bedroom apartments in these areas where our shopping centers are, that they use our centers almost as their lounge room or as a meeting place for friends and family.

Tim Weale: On the retailer side … And this is the most exciting of all for us as a retail landlord, because we’ve got this saying in the office that, “Change has never happened this fast before and will never be this slow again.” I’ll say it again. “Change has never happened this fast before and will never be this slow again.”

John Rougeux: Did you guys come up with that quote yourself, or is that a quote from someone like Clayton Christensen?

Tim Weale: No, it’s not actually a Clayton quote. I’m not sure where it came from, actually. It just popped up, and then we’ve all just been running with it as a bit of a … In the back of our mind, just to keep thinking about that for anything we do. Planning, and forecasting, and we can, in a way, reimagine retail in our shopping centers. But it’s a cool quote. I don’t know who I can give accolades to for it, but we’ll keep running with it.

John Rougeux: Well, when someone asks me about it, I’ll just say that you came up with it yourself, and we’ll leave it at that.

Tim Weale: You can quote me. Quote me for it. But with the retailers, it was 18 months ago when we initially did this exercise. The retailers wanted to understand foot fall and consumer behavior in the shopping center, was their number one. And then the second was they wanted to be able to promote their product to people who are already in the center. Now, that was 18 months ago, and the industry has changed so quickly. The traditional bricks and mortar retailers now … Their two most important jobs to be done is how they can quickly leverage the balance of a successful bricks and clicks business. Alibaba referred to it as new retail, or one retail. We like to call it uniformed commerce. How can a retailer be able to leverage successfully online and bricks and mortar?

Tim Weale: And we see, to be truly successful, you need both. And you see that with the Amazon, and the Amazon Gos, and the Amazon Books, as an example. And then also the Alibaba examples with their products over in China and expanding through Asia. The second most important job to be done for bricks and mortar retailers who are in our centers is how do they solve fulfillment? Do they use their stores that they’re already paying rent for out in the marketplace that are almost like forward distribution note points to customers close-by, or do they use dynamic warehousing, which could be something close by their stores, but filled with stock that is seasonal or they know sells quite well and they can get their distribution out quickly, or do they do larger big box, large industrial warehousing type fulfillment?

Tim Weale: So, that changed in 12 months. And with this increase of online and this unified commerce and people wanting to leverage the success of that, how quickly it changed in 12 months. So, the idea of it being able to promote to people just within the center now is almost irrelevant because so much investigation and research that people are doing is online first. And then while the transaction from what we’ve seen is probably … Up to 50% to 60% will still transact in store, but a lot of the research is done online. And then I’m going touch and feel and try it on. And then we get into our business problems, but we can talk about those next time.

John Rougeux: Sure. Yeah. Let’s just pause there and kind of recap. You’ve got a set of problems that customers themselves face. You have a set of problems that the retailers themselves face. And if I got them right … Correct me if I’m wrong, but for the customers, it’s about finding the right product. It’s about finding convenience. And third, it’s about staying in touch with people in their circles while they’re at those centers.

Tim Weale: Yeah. Correct.

John Rougeux: Cool. And then for your retailers, you mentioned foot fall. You mentioned measuring traffic, customer journeys, things of that nature. You talked about promoting some of these products in the center, but really, I think you mentioned that that’s even starting to change just in the last 12 to 18 months. And now, even exploring things like the fulfillment strategy and how the brick and mortar locations in a shopping center fit into that picture … That’s really top-of-mind for these retailers now.

Tim Weale: Yeah. Absolutely. It’s fundamental to what they’re all talking about now. In Australia, the Australian retail market is, for traditional retailers, typically about 280 billion dollars a year. And in 2017, the data that we have 8% of that transaction occurred online. The conservative commentators are saying it might be 10% for 2018, but there’s maybe some more bullish commentary coming out it could be even more. It could be even up to 15%. So, that said, all the traditional retailers, and also traditional bricks and mortar landlords, which we are, an erosion of 10% to 15% of your market is absolutely compelling. So, we want to do everything we can to help our retailers to be successful in that unified commerce so they can maintain paying their rent, essentially, in our centers.

John Rougeux: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. We mentioned this term earlier, but you’re calling it the … The strategy called a “Connected urban customer strategy.” And I think you’ve got six pillars that underline this strategy to solving these problems. So, can you … I don’t know if you guys have a formal definition for that strategy, but if so, can you walk us through that? Or if not, just give us the high level overview.

Tim Weale: Yeah, yeah. Definitely, definitely. To address those top five … We’ll call it the top five jobs to be done … We needed to come up with a strategy that was appropriate to our customers and consumers that encompassed a lot of how we deal with technology, in general, because there’s so much cool tech out there, and you could spend so much money on so many great things, and platforms, and initiatives, but if it doesn’t solve your customer problems, it’s just an absolute waste of time and money. So, we use our connected urban customer strategy as our filter to determine whether we use something that will go towards solving those customer problems.

Tim Weale: As you mentioned, there’s six key things, and they are external partnerships, retailer partnerships, data analytics, products, urban mobility solutions, and voice activation. So, we’ve highlighted those as the things that define that strategy based on tech mega trends, what the consumers want, and what we have learnt from having data and WiFi networks and the like deployed in our retailer centers.

Tim Weale: … and WiFi networks and the like deployed in our retail centers. So I guess the first one, external partnerships, we’re a diversified landlord. We’re not a data science group, we’re not software developers. We’re not an online retailer. We’re none of those. We’re a traditional, bricks and mortar retail landlord.

Tim Weale: So for us it’s really important to form partnerships with the likes of, well, SkyFi is obviously a big one that we work with quite a lot. But also the likes of the Microsoft’s AWS and other large groups. That’s been really, really important to us to develop products. And also some old-tech firms through the Asian region. It’s been really important for us to leverage partnerships where there’s a benefit for both of us on the line.

Tim Weale: Retail in partnerships is really key…

John Rougeux: So just so to recap that first one, ’cause I think this is really important, we hear about this a lot. You guys recognize the fact that you have certain competencies, certain things that you do really well, but you also recognize the fact that while there’s expertise out there that you need to add to your team, trying to do that internally through direct hires or building technology from scratch, that’s not always the right approach. People out there are doing this and you can gain access to the expertise, gain access to the technology so much faster by finding the right partnerships, filtered through this lens of identifying problems that you can solve and then finding the right partnerships to address that.

Tim Weale: Yeah, absolutely, because for us we like the idea of great diversification, so external partners, they see things across the marketplace that we don’t necessarily see. And if we brought that capability internally and tried to own it and wrap that capability around us and hold it tight, we would probably lose the competitive advantage there because all of them will just turn into us, essentially, so we like it that external partners are out there, and they talk to different landlords, see different trends, have different insights to what we do.

Tim Weale: That’s really critical, and also too we don’t necessarily have the budget to become a tech company, and nor do we want to, we know what we do, and we know what we do well, and that’s creating great experiences in shopping centers, and a place for people to come to, and that’s where we need to focus on our strengths, and leverage our external partners to help us in other areas.

John Rougeux: Right, ’cause when you bring things in house there’s certainly instances where that’s appropriate, but you’re kind of making the bet that you can do it better, faster, cheaper, than a partner. So certainly when you’re trying to get something quickly, and as rapidly as things are changing, that’s…partnerships are a quick way to bring those capabilities on board without the sum costs.

John Rougeux: So let’s talk about the second one, I think retail partnerships was the next one on the list.

Tim Weale: Yeah, so retail partnerships is a really interesting one, as I mentioned before with that real change of retailers looking to leverage that balance of online and offline. We wanted to see our retailers be successful and we will help them and encourage them to be that in any way that we can.

Tim Weale: You look at the likes of Adidas, and locally in Australia we have a group, sporting retailer called Rebel, and all their investment is going into the online space. While they’re not exiting out of bricks and mortar, but a lot of their development is going into online, so they can see that to be successful you need to be in that space, for both markets.

Tim Weale: What also is interesting, in Australia, there’s only 15% of the top 250 retailers represented in our market. We’ve had quite a few internationals come in, in recent times, meaning H&M, Uniqlo, and Zara as examples, and they’ve really shown the Australian market, especially in fashion, that there’s another way of doing business.

Tim Weale: Typically a lot of our retailers have had four seasons of clothing a year, whereas the internationals they come in and they can have up to 22 seasons of clothing a year. So we’ll look to partner with retailers and entities who want to come into the Australian market, and we’ll look to encourage that and help them do that, so there’s a windfall for both of us there.

John Rougeux: So real quick before we go onto the next one, have you started to see the relationship between commercial property and tenant change? Is it starting to move towards more of a mutually collaborative partnership, and if so what do you think is driving that?

Tim Weale: The consumer. 100% the consumer. So no longer is the conversation with retailers and ourselves a retailer vs. landlord, rent per square meter, black and white conversation anymore, it’s so much more collaborative now. And even the whole metrics of retail performance of a shopping center, being the productivity of styles per square meter, even that as a metric is becoming less relevant and more and more so we’re moving toward this understanding of consumer behavior in the center and applying a value to that consumer behavior.

Tim Weale: A lot of people might come into a store, look for your products, but then purchase online, so those sales aren’t necessarily attributed to the center. So that old metric of that reporting of those sales in a physical store is becoming while still the metric, is becoming less and less appropriate. So that’s that real change of metric with online coming, being such a strong part of their business models.

John Rougeux: Right, so even though these physical spaces aren’t necessarily conducting the transaction itself, they’re still adding value, so using that metric of sales per square foot isn’t…maybe it’s still valuable in some ways but it sounds like it’s decreasing in importance in some ways.

Tim Weale: That’s right, and where the value is, is that the customers coming into stores and their behavior in store, there’s more value attributed to that now as opposed to a simple black and white they made a transaction, how much was it?

John Rougeux: Right, right, and then that kind of segues into this third one, data analytics. Tell us a little bit about that one.

Tim Weale: That’s been a really exciting journey for us. When we started about three years ago, with our first deployment of retail wifi into two of our centers, as proof of concept in a way, and then we’ve expanded now through our entire portfolio. But what that has given us is an ability to understand consumer behavior like we’ve never been able to do before and also to, not only just as a one platform if you like, give us our intelligence like that, that we can use to make business decisions.

Tim Weale: It actually made us realize that in other areas of our business and other technologies we had deployed that we weren’t in a spot to really make a claim of accuracy against those. An example is people counting throughout our centers.

Tim Weale: So in Australia it’s quite common that retail landlords will do that to understand the traffic flow and the numbers of people within a center and with that we had various vendors across our portfolio, we had various technologies across our portfolio, and we had various ways of understanding the accuracy of those technologies that were deployed.

Tim Weale: So we’ve gone out and completely redefined that, deployed the one single technology across all our centers so that we’ve got that little baseline and understanding of accuracy, so that we can make good decisions and hand on heart know that they’re the right numbers. Whereas before it was probably a bit loose, but only because we started to get this greater appreciation of the value of having accurate data, did it change our mindset on a lot of things.

John Rougeux: So you’ve really invested in the quality of data that you’re getting across your portfolio.

Tim Weale: Yeah, that’s right, exactly. ‘Cause for us to stand up and make recommendations to our own board, or making representation to retailers, we really need that data to be accurate, so that we can like I said, hand on heart, be confident in what we’re saying is in fact real, tangible, and the truth. That is an accurate representation.

Tim Weale: So it’s been really, really interesting, and even just defining relevance of retailers in our centers, our development team when they look to do remixing or changing a part of one of our assets, and essentially doing an upgrade to it. An example was we had a retailer, an electronics retailer here in Australia, in our center, and there was a bit of a feeling amongst some people in the group that that retailer might not have had relevance anymore, so we simply just looked at the data, saw that that retailer was actually really quite high in webpages that had been searched by people who had been logged on to our wifi in the center, and it was really high. It was right up the top. So that, instantly, having been able to rely on the data to make business decision, was really compelling and was like ‘wow they are actually relevant’ rather than just basing it on a gut feel. And it changed the whole mindset and the whole conversation of the meeting at the time.

John Rougeux: Yeah I think that’s a great example of how using data, not just to have interesting reports or graphs to create some eye candy, but you’re using direct to make business decisions and validate the tenet mix, I think that’s really powerful.

Tim Weale: And that sort of leads into the next one, the urban mobility solutions and that theme, it’s not about wheelchair accessibility per se, but what it is, it’s about the change of people in their behavior in hyper urban environments, and the technology that enables them to transit through there, and Uber is an obvious example, with pickups and drops and Uber Eats.

Tim Weale: Fedora, they’re in Australia, they’re a recent addition into our portfolio and with Fedora for food delivery, we had a deal with them that they would have a more favorable product offering to our retailers in the center, and in return we gave them dedicated parking bays for their scooters and bikes so that they could get in and out quicker.

Tim Weale: But an interesting one is a partnership, another external partnership that we have with Tesla. In our Broadway shopping center in Sydney, we have Australia’s first supercharging base that is outside of a Tesla service center. There’s eight bays there with supercharging capabilities for Tesla owners.

Tim Weale: So initially when we were discussing with them, we were talking through the deal, and we were curious how long do people stay connected, and the average time that a car was tethered to a Tesla supercharger was just over and hour, and that was real interesting to us, from the data analytics and the wifi deployed, we know that our average dwell time for a repeat customer at Broadway was forty-two minutes.

Tim Weale: So that really caught our attention, that this would attract people who potentially who potentially have high disposable income, given they’re spent a good sum of money on a really cool piece of technology, would be returning customers to our center. And that really sort of summed it up, well if we can do that, and that was one of our business problems, we want to increase dwell time in our centers.

Tim Weale: So that was just a simple use of data there to really justify. And that’s been a great success for both Tesla and also for us as a center as well.

John Rougeux: What I really like about this example, Tim, is you’re actually not looking at these solutions as silos, you kind of his on three there. So you talked about urban mobility solutions, so this is like how people access, the center, what other amenities or services access the center, like food delivery. So basically what’s the customer experience like of you know, getting up to the door of the center.

John Rougeux: But you hit on like data analytics, so looking at the time these cars spent charging, and you looked at, you didn’t mention this but it was a partnership as you so you combined external partnerships, you combined data analytics into the pill of urban mobility solutions, so really –

John Rougeux: … analytics, this other pillar of urban note mobility solutions. So really think holistically about these solving problems. And it sounds like if you’re just looking at these things ad hoc, you wouldn’t have thought so deeply and gotten such rich insights about what’s happening at the center.

Tim Weale: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. All these key themes, they’re all integrated. Absolutely. And now Tesla’s a retailer as well in our centers. They take space to sell their cars within our shopping centers now. So it’s all interlinked. We can’t look at it in silos. It’s so much more sophisticated now. And a lot of these that we’ve been talking about isn’t a discussion around traditional bricks and mortar leasing your shops. So that the role of retailer now, retail centers, is really changing. And changing quickly.

John Rougeux: So I think we have two more pillars. We’ve gone through four, we’ve got two left. Can you walk us through these last couple?

Tim Weale: Yeah. Sure thing, sure thing. So the next one is products, in inverted commas, and you might remember that the number one job to be done for a consumer was that they wanted to find the product that they want to buy. So we’ve learned from Millennials, in the ages of 20 to 35 years of age and with the Gen Z coming through, the people know the product that they want to buy. So they’re coming into our centers not thinking, “I’m gonna buy a pair of running shoes today.” They come in, they know they want a pair of Nike Air Max. Or they know they want a pair of classic Kayanos. Or they come in and go, “I want a pair of Nudie jeans today.” That’s what they’re coming in. They know the product, ’cause they’re all tech savvy. Everyone is on Instagram and they know what their friends and families and influencers are wearing, and that’s what they want to buy, as well.

Tim Weale: So with that in mind, we ran a proof of concept of a product’s piece that we call Products Online. And we had an affiliation with vendors in our center, with retailers, and they would provide us with a feed of their product inventory every 24 hours, of what they had in the store. So knowing the behavior of a lot of research happening on our Broadway webpage site, we had a products page and you could type in there, “Nike Air Max” and it would bring up all the colors and shapes and sizes of Nike Air Max that were available in our center that day.

Tim Weale: So it would come up with what’s available from Nike themselves, Hype DC which is a street sort of shoe fashion retailer in Australia, Rebel Sport, Athlete’s Foot et cetera et cetera. So they’ll all be listed there and the proof of concept was really really good and it showed that behavior was quite compelling from our consumers, that if we did it for six months and the cart size that people were purchasing- as I said, you then had the choice of either buying it, being directed to the retailer’s e-commerce page, or contacting the store by email or phone.

Tim Weale: But the average cart size was about $113 Australian, whereas from research we’ve done, average cart size in the center, average purchase is probably only about 40 to 50 dollars. So it was quite eye-opening to see that this behavior was occurring without any marketing. It was there just so it would be organically found through Google that people would use this product’s searching piece.

Tim Weale: So we got another proof of concept in the wings now to really then drive those sales and that fulfillment to the stores in our center. While this Products Online piece was good for the retailer, it wasn’t actually driving traffic or sales performance to that store that is in the center, so that’s what we really want to strive to do is still maintain that relevance and that experience and driving footfall to the physical center to complete the transaction. It was really really interesting and it proved up a lot of theories that we’d been thinking about and a couple of hypotheses that we had.

Tim Weale: And the next one’s voice activation, it’s just such a huge tech mega trend coming our way and we see that Amazon Alexa now has over 300,000 different skills and is being trained and training so many more every week. It’s a huge mega trend, the Google Home is similar example and there’s many other similar products along there.

Tim Weale: So we’re looking how we can use that tech mega trend of voice activation within our shopping centers. So we’re looking at a couple of exciting things there, one of those is potentially voice activation of directory boards, so rather than just going up to a standard old directory board and typing in with your fingers what you want to- you know, you’re looking for shoes, it’ll bring up all the different shoe shops that you don’t want, that you could just simply with your voice ask the unit, “Where I can find a pair of Mike Air Max?,” and then it would tell you.

Tim Weale: So that’s pretty exciting. There’s more to come in that over the next 6 to 12 months. But yeah, it’s a mega trend that we can’t ignore and it just brings that value add and that additional experience into the centers and as more and more people use voice activation- I know my two and my four year old, they love using it because they can play the- the Alexa at home, they can play the Paw Patrol soundtrack theme song whenever they like, so it’s not something that’s going to go away any time soon.

John Rougeux: Right yes, it’s pretty similar in our household with our little ones. [crosstalk 00:31:43] Yeah, this generation is learning to interact with computers at a much younger age and along with that, they’re interacting to voice instead of either keyboard or mouse or even a touch screen.

Tim Weale: Yeah.

John Rougeux: And so I think you’re kind of preparing for the future in a way with these voice activations because this is how people are, especially like I said, kids are learning to interact with computers, that’s gonna be the expectation in other environments outside the home.

Tim Weale: Yeah, exactly. That’s right, and that’s what we need to be ready for, when that Generation Z, that one to 20 years of age who are now starting to enter into the spending age group and who are consumers, we need to be ready for that.

John Rougeux: Yeah, absolutely. So look, I want to just recap these six themes. You went in some great depth today and I want to make sure that we can keep these six top of mind. So we’ve got external partnerships, we’ve got retail partnerships, data analytics, urban mobility solutions, products and voice activation. The six themes of Tim’s connected urban customer strategy.

John Rougeux: Really good stuff Tim, I’ve got one last question for you before we wrap up today’s episode.

Tim Weale: Yeah?

John Rougeux: I would have to imagine that the development of these themes, the implementation of all this, building a data-first culture that probably involves a lot more than the efforts of just yourself, that’s really a team effort if I’m guessing correctly. So what was that like, what’s your advice for someone who’s thinking about these themes, they want to pursue something similar or at least take on a more robust approach in terms of connecting and understanding customers- how do they go about taking that from an idea to really building this into the culture of their own business?

Tim Weale: It has actually been really tough. It really has been. It hasn’t been an easy road and we’ve still got a long way to go. ‘Cause you can bring so many great things into a business but if your business units aren’t willing or don’t want to or don’t have the desire or the hunger to use these platforms and products and ideas, then they really just won’t.

Tim Weale: People get comfortable in the way they do what they do, and if they’ve been doing it for a while and they think that that’s success, then that’s how they’ll continue to do it. So we really had to prove the value to our business in a lot of these instances, and we’re starting to get some success now and some of those wins like I mentioned before with the relevance of retailers and understanding the online tidal wave that is right there and giving them insights of consumer behavior, of how popular Uber Eats now and the idea of restaurants not even wanting to have a restaurant front per se any more but having those meals fulfilled out of dark kitchens.

Tim Weale: So really, just highlighting to the businesses that this change is coming and it’s right here and right now and will just keep coming, and it’ll come faster and faster and faster. And that’s the big thing to do, thinking about do, is to remain agile. Like I wouldn’t be surprised our connected urban customer themes in 12 months’ time, it could look quite different because of the rate of change.

Tim Weale: We saw that with what our retailers wanted change within 12 months, so one piece of advice is really to bring people on on the journey. You can’t just go and do it yourself and run the flag up the hill and expect everyone else to follow you. You really want to instill that ownership into your teams, have the teams onboard, do short sprints, proof of concept or investigative sprints and insights into your consumers.

Tim Weale: And have the teams- have your retail teams, your center teams, even your support teams in your head offices get out to the centers, talk to customers, be involved, and then they start to see that it’s not just someone from head office saying, “This is what we’ve got to do,” that once they realize and have that own self realization that this is important, then you really get the commitment and people getting on board.

John Rougeux: So it’s not just about yourself and you being super passionate about it. It sounds like being iterative, setting up experiments, allowing others on your team to have some participation and ownership in these experiments allows them to kind of see the light if you will, and really understand the value at a much more innate level than you trying to tell them and convince them from the outside.

Tim Weale: Yeah, that’s a really good summary. Absolutely.

John Rougeux: Tim, lots of great advice today, I really appreciate you walking us through these six themes of the connected urban customer strategy. If someone wants to get in touch with you, ask a question, what’s the best way for them to get in touch?

Tim Weale: Yeah absolutely, John. They can either get in touch directly through you and I’m more than happy for you to forward on my details to them. That’s not a problem at all.

John Rougeux: All right well, we’ll certainly include your contact information in the show notes if someone wants to find you on LinkedIn or through some other means, but happy to forward anyone I run across over to you as well.

Tim Weale: Yeah, terrific.

John Rougeux: Well, good deal Tim, thanks so much for being with us. If you guys are still listening, I want to ask you for two small favors today. First of all, if you found this episode helpful, please head to iTunes and leave us a five star rating or even better, a short review. You know, when you rate the show, it helps us get more visibility but the important thing there is that that means great advice from experts like Tim gets shared with even more people, so please do that today when you have a moment.

John Rougeux: Secondly, if you have an idea for the show or a guest you’d like to propose, send us a note at podcast@skyfii.com. That’s podcast@skyfii.com

John Rougeux: Okay, well that’s it for today’s episode of People And Places. I’m John Rougeux with Skyfii. Thanks again for being with us, we’ll see you next time.

People in Places is a podcast dedicated to helping today’s shopping centers, retail outlets, airports, museums, universities, and other physical locations optimize the experience of their visitors. Get in-touch: podcast@skyfii.com. See all current episodes on our website here.

Show Notes:

  1. You can get in-touch with Tim Weale at his LinkedIn profile.
  2. The book that Tim references by Clayton Christensen is called The Innovator’s Dilemma.