The Evolution of Mall Wayfinding

The Evolution of Mall Wayfinding

For decades, malls have served as a one-stop shop for consumers to flock and frequent, taking advantage of all the deals every store and outlet has to offer. Despite the many obstacles malls have had to hurdle in over the years and in regards to the pandemic, their importance hasn’t waned either. In fact, regardless of lockdowns and other public health-related mandates, malls operating in the U.S. experienced an immense rebound in attendance in late 2020 after an initial drop-off in the spring and summer, with mall traffic numbers climbing to near 2019 levels of attendance. 

For the first time since 2016, more mall stores opened in 2022 than closed, with overall mall occupancy reported at 95.1% in 2022 – up from about 92% in 2020. As malls continue to rebound from the pandemic, the need for creating a unique and accommodative shopping experience for consumers has increased tenfold. So what is it that makes a mall truly stand out as a consumer experience in paradise rather than just your average, run-of-the-mill shopping center? 

One of the distinguishing features every mall (hopefully) incorporates into its daily operations is an intricate, accessible, and interactive wayfinding signage system. 

Interactive Wayfinding Signs & Kiosks 

It’s one thing for digital wayfinding signage to simply display more visually accessible navigational information that visitors can utilize to effectively map their way around the mall; It’s a completely different thing to promote customer engagement through interactive wayfinding technologies.

Interactive wayfinding gives visitors more control over their shopping experience while providing shops and retail outlets with a more interactive path toward appealing to their customers. It’s no wonder more malls are implementing interactive wayfinding features into digital signage and kiosk stations to promote engaging and direct communication with customers.

Interactive wayfinding provides many opportunities to communicate with customers:

  • Directly lead customers to social media channels

  • Promote exclusive discounts and offers

  • Highlight upcoming events of interest

  • Creating QR code scanning opportunities

  • Offer email or social media sign-up

  • Provide in-depth information regarding stores or brands 

All of these interactive wayfinding capabilities help promote customer engagement that leads to a more intimate and informed shopping experience. 

Mobile Integration & QR Codes

Without even diving into advanced statistics, it can be safe to say that almost everyone shopping at the mall is in possession of a smartphone. These pocket-sized pieces of technological wonders provide ample opportunities for malls to incorporate mobile integrations into their digital wayfinding or signage stations. 

Mobile integration provides customers with the chance to personalize and curate their own shopping experience while allowing retail stores to directly market their brand toward mall visitors. A simple wayfinding display that encourages passersby to scan a QR code on their phones can lead to customers downloading exclusive and promotional content on their phones, informing them of potential purchasing opportunities they would have otherwise been unaware of.

Unsure of how successful QR codes are for marketing opportunities? Statistics show that by 2022, an estimated 5.3 billion coupons, promotional offers, or downloadable content will be redeemed through QR codes! 

Mobile Website

Creative Content Management 

Part of establishing better brand recognition and engagement is creating more relevant, informative, and compelling content that will actually intrigue and influence shoppers. Mall wayfinding designs and strategies allow brands to have more control and creativity regarding the content they choose to promote via digital signage displays. 

From designing more intricate, 3D animated, or downloadable maps to providing more localized, relevant content (local news, traffic information, sports updates, etc.) that customers are interested in consuming, digital wayfinding allows for more creative and engaging content management

Consistent & Interactive Branding 

Once industries began to realize the branding opportunities digital wayfinding systems could provide, the personalized connection between consumer and retailer has continued to strengthen. With effective mall wayfinding strategies, interactive branding is more accessible than ever through a variety of digital signage solutions that market your mall’s logo, colors, message, products, services, etc. 

Wayfinding displays also promote interest in all the stores, outlets, and retailer brands that inhabit the mall, encouraging shoppers to learn more about the places they shop at, as well as find new destinations to explore and do business with. 

Customer Engagement Features 

Today’s malls shouldn’t be merely shopping facilities that host a number of popular stores and brands; They need to develop a strong connection with their shoppers that promotes comfort and confidence, influencing them to keep coming back. The ways that digital wayfinding systems have improved engagement between consumers and businesses are practically unrivaled. 

These digital signage resources invite shoppers to utilize a number of navigational and informative features, ranging from: 

  • 3D, animated navigational mapping for improved wayfinding

  • Direct marketing of social media platforms

  • Membership reward programs for exclusive discounts or offers

  • Multilingual and closed-captioned options to accommodate more shoppers

  • QR-code scanning displays for promotional opportunities or email signup 

The more wayfinding features you make available for customers to utilize, the higher engagement levels your mall can start to experience. 


Smartphone Apps

Nothing has changed the landscape of digital wayfinding signage quite like the integration of smartphone technology. Through mobile app development services, malls can create wayfinding applications for their shoppers, which in turn creates a more customized shopping experience that, more often than not, will increase the amount of time shoppers spend at any given store or department. 

Consumers are downloading smartphone apps at record rates, with the average U.S. consumer using at least 10 mobile apps a day and an estimated 30 different apps per month. The more customized you can make the shopping experience for your customers through developing a mobile app, the more comfortable and willing they’ll be to connect with your brand and spend more money shopping. 

Accommodating Analytics 

In addition to promoting brand awareness and customer engagement, perhaps the most useful resource digital wayfinding systems can equip malls with is all the detailed analytic reports they can provide. 

When shoppers download your mall’s custom mobile app, you can gain access to a variety of insightful data, from how much time they’re spending shopping at your mall to which discounts, promotions, or QR codes they’re actually engaging with. These revealing details give you more awareness as to what marketing strategies are successful with your shoppers, allowing you to make more informed business decisions. 

What Can Digital Wayfinding Systems Do for Your Mall? 

Remember navigating your way through the mall back in the old days? Figuring out the mapping keys and legends. Spending precious time getting lost and accessing different floors. Trying to pinpoint your favorite store when it turned out it was right behind you when you initially set out on your voyage.

The mall used to be a total time capsule where going astray was essentially half of the experience. Fortunately, mall wayfinding technologies today have made visiting the mall a more time-efficient, punctual experience. From enhancing consumer engagement to customizing the customer experience, mall wayfinding technologies are enhancing the way visitors interact and participate at shopping malls. 

Mall wayfinding has progressed tremendously from its initial origins. Back in the day, the sheer sight of digital signage was enough to stop shoppers in their tracks to inspect the holographic spectacle. But nowadays, innovative mall wayfinding stations and displays are essentially the norm, and the future of these digital navigational resources continues to evolve rapidly. 

While new technologies continue to change the way shoppers utilize their surroundings at the mall, it’s important for mall managers to know what wayfinding resources are available to them now and in the future to help create the ultimate user experience possible. The bottom line is that we’ve come a long way from digital wayfinding signage systems being more visually stimulating versions of advertising. 

When you need new solutions to better engage with your customers, Oppna Digital is here to equip you with custom wayfinding strategies that will unlock your mall’s customer service potential! Contact us today to learn more about how we cater to your industry’s customers, or call us at 651-237-5677 for immediate assistance. 

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