“True customer understanding is key”

“True customer understanding is key”

Ada Mall currently has an extremely strong loyalty program, from which, based on 30,000 members of our key target audience, we see real-time consumer behavior data. This is an invaluable opportunity to better understand them and provide them with better services – a story in an exclusive interview for BIZLife magazine Alex Linchev, General Manager, Ada Mall

  • How would you rate the year 2021 in retail sector? What was the year like for Ada Mall?

Retail the market has not been in such a turnaround and overhaul since the industrial revolution. However, instead of announcing the apocalypse of retail, the year 2021 showed a real retail revolution. Yes, many small traders have disappeared and some categories have suffered from supply shortages, but these muffled problems were pre-existing vulnerabilities before the Kovids and simply came to light during the pandemic. However, 2021 was truly revolutionary. Traders have moved away from the 150-year-old oligopolistic model of shopping, where production and supply are constructed on the assumption that the consumer is always “greedy” and buys more and more every year. We now live in a customer-focused world, where the demand and understanding of new age consumers drives supply, where experience is not just a transaction at the heart of the business, where offline and online are not competing models, but inseparable parts of a new shopping experience.

Belgrade and Ada Mall were no exception to these world trends. At Ada Mall, we used data from over 30,000 members of our loyalty program to create targeted discounts, rewards, special segment events and added value in the shopping experience. In the pandemic, we replaced more than 4,000 square meters of low-performing tenants with better-adapted brands after the pandemic, bridged the gap between sellers and landlords by better understanding our common area and fine-tuning the way we seek them. We took advantage of CSR campaigns with a tangible impact on the environment and society.

The number of visitors to Ada Mall exceeded the previous year and almost reached the level before the pandemic. The traffic increased even more than the number of visitors, and we saw very strong and sustainable traffic on the weekends.

The mall reached almost one hundred percent occupancy for the first time since opening and we have optimized the combination of tenants by providing those that suit our area.


  • In one interview you said that Ada Mall is defined by three factors: human, sustainable and local. Can you clarify that?

Modern retail is focused on people, which means that everything – from the interior to the way you serve customers – must be focused on a true understanding of their needs. It is, in a broader sense, an easy, fast and carefree shopping experience, which is fun, rewarding and with a real tangible contribution to the environment and the local community.

Some of the ways we have pursued this direction in Ada Mall have been developed through our free “Ada Loyalty Club” program, based on apps and cards. Not only could customers enjoy buying new collections at a discount, have the opportunity for early access to sales events, such as Black Friday, but all the invoices they generated could be exchanged for various prizes, from vouchers for shops, drones, to opera tickets, theaters, as well as vouchers for seaside vacations. All these benefits are not provided by lottery or by chance, but through a coherent and guaranteed mechanism where you get when you buy. You buy more – you get more. It’s that simple.

One example of our efforts for sustainability and social contribution is our traditional sales day – the first Tuesday of the month, which was turned into a “green Tuesday” by linking shopping center discounts to various “green” initiatives: we planted more than 100 trees; we had numerous children’s workshops on nature conservation; we collected tons of dry packaged food, toys and books for vulnerable children; we subsidized interviews with local best-selling authors; we have supported local designers and will soon host another conceptual fashion store developed by young Serbian artists; we regularly renew the fund of our free library and study center in the shopping center, and we have planned even more for 2022.

  • On the occasion of the second birthday of the center, customers were offered a loyalty program. What are the reactions and feedback from customers and are you satisfied with how the program is progressing?

The program was received much better than we expected, so much so that it currently generates close to eight percent of the total turnover of the relevant shopping center. Customers loved it because of its simplicity and simple reward mechanism, where every day spent in stores has a double privilege: discounts on items without discounts in 70 percent of all fashion stores and points by which customers can receive tens of thousands of prizes worth close to 100,000 euros. We will further develop the “Ada Loyalty Club” by enriching discounts and rewards.

  • Ada Mall very often organizes events in the shopping center itself: shopping days with special discounts, designed events for children and adults for Halloween, etc. Does this mean that today’s customers expect more from the mall than shopping?

Buyers expected more from good shopping malls than before the pandemic. Now the difference is that people buy less (a large number of visitors on weekends and a more balanced number on weekdays), higher average bills and customers prefer discount, sports, do-it-yourself and higher-level multibrand stores, which offer high quality and higher value for money. The consumer in the post-pandemic world prefers to choose retailers with strong loyalty programs, which can provide impeccable omnichannel experience.

A new customer values ​​quality more than quantity, values ​​personalized service and longs for safe and fun shopping. Therefore, all the events we organize in Ada Mall are primarily aimed at generating an easy, fun, personalized and useful shopping experience.

These are not mass events and are very far from the standard big pre-kovid concerts and almost generic marketing campaigns. In our campaigns, we often communicate directly by talking to different segments of shopping center customers using our loyalty platform, database of consumer surveys, feedback from social networks. We continue to differentiate and personalize this communication using internet platforms for email marketing. Gone are the days when you would put a generically appealing slogan “in superlatives” on a billboard or social media and hope to stand out.


  • The pandemic has caused a great transformation of shopping centers and one of the trends in retail in the world are the so-called. consumer engagement centers. Do you plan to apply such a format in Serbia as well?

Speaking of shopping malls as Fr. consumer engagement centers, I feel that a lot has been missed, and often a lot has been underestimated. Almost every mall today claims to have achieved this and almost every mall manager will tell you that it is the future. However, consumer engagement shopping center is a high-stakes model that requires huge analysis of customer data and synergy with the community. One example of a truly customer-oriented shopping mall of the future is Ingka Group (parent company of IKEA), which has launched its latest Meeting place a center called Livat Changshka, in China. It includes close to 400 shops, 500 work units, 12,000 square meters of green space, a combination of cafes and restaurants, sports and cultural facilities, digital contact points, Live Family loyalty program, utilities and more.

Ada Mall currently has an extremely strong loyalty program, from which, based on 30,000 members of our key target audience, we see real-time consumer behavior data. This is an invaluable opportunity to better understand them and provide them with better services. That way, Ada Mall will get closer to real retail consumer engagement center. So far we have managed to provide common area pick up points, designer fashion hub, free library and learning center in the mall, new digital playground, escape room and a “terrible” maze suitable for groups and teams of building companies, an application with a loyalty program, an online store based on that application, registration of accounts in the mall and a place to collect loyalty rewards, lockers in the mall and bicycle parking, direct pedestrian bridge to Ada Ciganlija (which is completely built, but is expected to receive a use permit in the spring of 2022) and, of course, above all – the interior and exterior, which make every visit a real aesthetic experience. All this, together with the construction of new residential and retail facilities in our immediate vicinity, brings us closer to the real thing consumer engagement center.

Source: BIZLife Magazine

Source: BIZlife by www.bizlife.rs.

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