With retail sales and foot traffic both trending upward, 2023 is on track to be a comeback year for retail real estate. Shopping center owners, investors, and brokers will be well poised to capitalize on the industry’s expansion by embracing modern property management.
This year, retailers will open more stores than they close for the first time since 2017, according to JLL research. If you have vacancies to fill, now is the time to step up your efforts to find the right retailers to fill those spaces.
Here are five strategies to consider when searching for retail tenants.
Access to robust data will help you identify retailers that will prosper in your space. So, what type of data is useful when searching for prospective tenants?
You’ll want a database that helps you answer questions such as:
Luckily, you don’t have to collect this data on your own. By subscribing to a commercial real estate database, you can gain access to decision-maker contact details and other retailer data.
As you evaluate retail database options to support your property management efforts, consider how the data is collected. A robust data collection effort will include a variety of methods, such as web scraping, indexing of government and open-source records, and telephone research.
The leading, modern property management systems also use artificial intelligence to predict future trends.
For example, Retailsphere’s closures prediction algorithm will help you predict which tenants may close and vacate your spaces soon — giving you a head start on your property marketing efforts.
Connecting with prospective tenants for your retail properties can be a laborious process. You can save time by automating more of your marketing processes with a customer relationship management (CRM) system built for the commercial real estate industry.
A CRM system helps shopping center owners and brokers to communicate efficiently with prospects through all stages of the sales journey. You can log your outreach to prospective tenants and take notes on your conversations, helping you remember details and keep your whole team on the same page.
Then, you can set up tasks to track action items with each contact. That might include scheduling your next email or setting up an onsite meeting at your retail space.
Look for a system that includes customizable templates that make it easy to engage with prospects via email and text. You will also want the ability to personalize communications even when sending to a large group of prospects.
Other useful features include the ability to create and send calendar invites from within the platform, as well as to create custom reports. These reports will show all the effort your team is taking to get the right retailer into your space.
Commercial real estate owners and brokers are increasingly turning to texting and social media messaging to nurture leads. Scrolling through target retailers’ Instagram and Facebook profiles will help you learn about their brands and customer bases.
Engaging with prospective tenants through social media and text is also a great way to meet them where they are. Nearly three-quarters of Americans are active on at least one social network, according to Pew Research.
By tracking social networks and mobile numbers within your CRM system, you’ll know what channels drive the best response from retailers. From there, you can send custom texts, Facebook messages, LinkedIn InMail and Instagram DMs to the right people at the brands you want to attract.
Once you’ve evaluated the data to identify the retailers you’d like to see in your shopping center, you’ll want to look at your space with a critical eye. Is it designed to attract the target customers of those retailers?
The identity of your shopping center matters. That includes everything from the branding and physical design to the amenities you provide.
For example, if you want to fill your center with hip restaurants and trendy shops, you’ll have more success if you cultivate an insta-worthy experience for the social media generation. Consider working with a local artist to create a unique mural, as well as landscaping improvements.
Additionally, consider how the retail environment has changed in just the past two years. As they evaluate space options, more retailers are looking for convenient parking spaces that can be reserved for curbside pickup. Ensuring your center is equipped to meet the needs of today’s consumers will put you ahead in the race for new tenants.
Even as retailers rebound from the economic downturn, it’s clear that the pandemic has accelerated the growth of e-commerce. McKinsey’s research finds more than half of consumers expect to maintain their online shopping habits after the pandemic ends.
While not a death knell for brick-and-mortar retail, the explosive growth of e-commerce is spurring retail landlords to rethink the ideal tenant mix for a modern property.
You may want to explore targeting the following types of untraditional tenants:
Embracing modern property management will position you to attract the tenants that will keep your shopping center thriving for years to come. Sign up for a demo to discover how Retailsphere can help you get ahead in your search.