New Aussie app Norbit a game changer for retailers

New Aussie app Norbit a game changer for retailers

14 December 2018

Shopping centre landlords across Australia, and as far away as Norway, have started using a little known app designed by Brisbane business Norbit as their first line of defence in the battle against the rising power of online retailing, reports the AFR.

The threat of Amazon and online retailing is motivating some landlords to deploy the app which tracks shopper’s spending habits in a way that tips the power back into landlords’ hands.

“Everyone says Amazon has done so well because they are online. But really, they win because they know their customer,” says Norbit co-founder and managing director Gerry Mezzina. “They have been tracking their customers since 1996 and the big landlords haven’t.”

“We worked with shopping centres for five years and saw the foot traffic decreasing,” he told StartupSmart, because “more and more people were “shopping online rather than going in to a shopping centre.”

This Christmas more than 70 per cent of Australian consumers are expected to do some of their shopping online, and e-commerce sales are forecast to grow more than 30 per cent, seven times faster than sales in bricks and mortar stores.

To counter this trend, the Norbit app empowers retailers to attract, reward, and retain customers in an entertaining way from within the platform.

Shopping centre landlords pay a nominal amount to rent the white label app and then it with its own shopping centre name. The landlord then encourages shoppers to download the app by offering them discounts and points.

As the shoppers use the discounts and chase the points, they are tracked.

Capalaba Shopping Centre in Brisbane, one of the first shopping centres to take up the app, saw 20,000 customers download the app, use it for two-three minutes, and then leave it open it all the way through to midnight.

The app is now used in 20 shopping centres in Australia, one in the Philippines, one in Norway and one in South Africa. Pacific Fair on the Gold Coast—one of the top five retail hubs in Australia—is trialling it.

The app allows landlords to collect data not previously available to them. This includes the names, age, gender, address, and contact details of customers, their spending habits, what promotions attract them, how often they visit, how long they stay, and most important, which retailers they purchase from.

The key to hooking customers is the app’s points-based system. Shoppers can get five points just for showing up to the centre. As the points build up the app user gets more discounts, more giveaways, more encouragement to spend.

“The psychology of points is that it does change the way the brain works. We have had customers say that they will spend over if they get points,” Mr Mezzina said.

“For the first time, shopping centre owners can now truly understand who their customers are,” says McVay Real Estate’s Sam McVay, an early investor.

“This becomes a really powerful tool in everything from curating a tenancy mix through to how the Centre is marketed.”

Research firm Gartner estimates local retailers spent about $4.8 billion in 2018 on technology, including analytics, digital marketing, e-commerce platforms and mobile applications, and will spend almost $5 billion in 2019, says the AFR.