Over the last year, Savills has been rolling-out a new platform ‘Savills Insights’ that will be used in 126 of its retail and leisure properties across the UK. Mallcomm by Toolbox Group is the technology behind Savills Insights, deployed to boost occupier engagement and to transform the value of performance data across the portfolio.
In an interview with Stephen Toal, director of property management research at Savills, he explained Savills’ approach to proptech and how collaboration with proptech leader, Toolbox Group, has delivered a solution that is adding significant value to the property management service and benefitting owners, stakeholders and retailers.
What is Savills Insights?
Savills Insights is both a mobile and desktop platform for two-way B2B communication and operations management The beauty of it is in the app, which gets the right information to the right people at the right time. It engages centre management and operations teams, retail staff, service providers and other stakeholders in all aspects of the running of the retail community. It has a powerful reporting function, gives access to essential information, helps to manage operations workflow and supports critical communication.
How does Savills Insights fit the firms wider innovation strategy?
Savills is constantly looking at ways in which innovation, both tech and non-tech, can help us work more effectively. Savills Insights also fits with our commitment to engaging with our occupiers to enable a more collaborative approach to managing our properties.
What objectives did you want to meet, what challenges did you want to solve with technology and how did you go about looking for that?
Occupier engagement, and getting closer to occupiers in general, is becoming increasingly important within the property sector. Within retail, quite often store managers do not have PCs, internet or any other form of connectivity which can lead to them being ‘cut off’ from what is happening within their scheme. In addition, Savills collects thousands of pieces of retail and leisure performance information. This data is captured and held in a variety of different formats meaning the collation and analysis can be a huge challenge. So, in short, we saw an opportunity to improve efficiencies, streamline communication and harness the value from data.
How is Savills Insights being used in centres managed by Savills?
Overall Savills Insights is used as a two-way communication and operations management tool, but its functionality is wide-ranging.
- Performance reporting has been transformed with more than 50% of tenants now submitting sales figures through the platform thanks to a bespoke API.
- It has been instrumental in streamlining management of 10 out of town retail parks owned by The Crown Estate
- We’ve been able to integrate with local BIDs to improve the value from stakeholder relationships
- There are really useful local community security functions in the app
- Document archiving makes everyone more efficient
- We’ve been able to integrate with marketing agencies to boost marketing activity
- Centre Partners have seen boosted sales thanks to staff discounts available through the app
- We have invested in both analytics and visualisation tools (such as Alteryx and Tableau) which allow us to present information in a variety of ways via different data sources. This has made us able to generate bespoke reports for individual retailers which will help them view performance in the context of the centre and the wider retail sector.
How have tenants responded to Savills Insights?
From the 66 locations who have Savills Insights so far there are 13,767 users in 2,910 stores across the portfolio using Savills Insights as their main form of communication with centre teams. Bon Accord Centre in Aberdeen, for example, has an average of 20 active users per store. 13 centres have 100% retailers on board and the rest all have over 90%. Feedback from retailers has been really positive and it has transformed the engagement we have with them and delivered significant efficiencies for all. Internally we use Workplace by Facebook through which centres can exchange ideas on usage, engagement etc.
What were the main reasons for choosing Mallcomm by Toolbox Group?
We felt that the technology behind Savills Insights – Mallcomm – ticked the boxes of both helping occupiers remain connected to on-site management teams and the sales input function also allowed all information to come into one place and so make collation and analysis more efficient. Savills had also worked with Toolbox Group in developing the earliest releases of the platform and feedback had been very positive.
How will Savills Insights develop in the future?
As more data becomes available we will continue to develop to meet the challenge of keeping reporting relevant and actionable. Although we are still rolling out the technology in remaining locations, together with Toolbox Group we are already looking at other ways in which the product can evolve and develop to meet the challenges that retail management faces. Watch this space!
This was an interview with Stephen Toal, Savills Director of Property Management Research, March 2019.