Chris Chong, managing director at CapitaLand Retail, speaking at the at the ULI Asia Pacific Convivium, held in Singapore in November.

Singapore-based developer CapitaLand is harvesting data to boost the revenues of its retail tenants and to help it locate future malls.

Speaking at the ULI Asia Pacific Convivium, held in Singapore in November, Chris Chong, managing director at CapitaLand Retail, said that the company uses data to boost both footfall and spending for tenants in its malls, which will ultimately benefit the landlord.

He explained how the company, one of Asia’s largest developers and asset managers, was in a unique position to exploit data about shopping activity, since its 20 shopping malls account for around 20 percent of the net lettable shopping mall space in Singapore.

However, he cautioned: “We have access to a lot of data, but data is not information. The key thing that we have to bear in mind is that data is only useful if we believe that this data is really representative, and we define a very clear universe from which data is going to be sourced from.”

The company garners data from its loyalty programme, CapitaStar, which has 1 million members—20 percent of the population of Singapore. It also has a range of voucher programs, with around 90 million vouchers in circulation at any one time.  CapitaLand also has cobranded cards with banks, which are another source of spending data.

The company’s latest shopping malls have even more advanced data collection technology. The Funan mall, which was recently completely refurbished, has incorporated video analytics. The company can track the number of people entering every store in the mall, giving it complete footfall data.

“The video analytics help to enhance the shopping experience because then we know how to customize [the mall offer] at different times of the day, or different times of the week, to specific demographics of shoppers in our malls,” Chong said.

The quantity of information available means that CapitaLand can slice and dice it more effectively to target very specific groups of shoppers. The company’s data dashboard allows it to see which customers used a promotion and how much they spent. “The key point is that with such a dashboard, that we have a scientific way to really attribute a return on investment to the marketing campaigns,” said Chong.

CapitaLand can compare data from individual stores with those of other CapitaLand tenants, giving each retailer a greater universe for benchmarking and also for the mall owner to develop an understanding of what sort of promotions work for similar retailers. “We empower them with insights, which they would not get if they were to do these marketing campaigns on their own,” said Chong.

An interesting offshoot of the data is the ability to compare affinity between brands, to understand that customers of one retailer will also be keen to shop at other stores. This enables CapitaLand to launch campaigns that benefit multiple tenants.

Knowing where people live and shop enables CapitaLand to site new malls, to be sure that a new location will serve a different catchment area to existing centers, said Chong.

He pointed out that data collection and use involve a considerable degree of responsibility and must be compliant with Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Act. CapitaLand also needs to be able to collect data in a customer-friendly fashion. “You need to adopt strategies to ensure that customers enjoy the whole experience,” he said.

Ultimately, data is only as valuable as the decisions that it enables, Chong concluded. “I think the way forward is really to work together—not just with retailers, but also with all our marketing partners—to see how, from all the different data points, we can translate that into real information we can use to make good decisions.”