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Cadillac Fairview Launches ‘Ravel by CF’ Digital Shopping App Amid Intense Landlord Competition

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Cadillac Fairview is beta testing a new shopping app that connects shoppers with special offers and product services in the landlord’s Canadian malls. It’s part of the recently launched Ravel by CF initiative that aims to set Cadillac Fairview apart from the competition through technological innovation geared towards removing friction points while enriching consumer experiences. 

The new ‘CF Browse’ app launched this week at CF Toronto Eaton Centre and the landlord is encouraging guests to download it and try it out. In 2020, CF Browse will be introduced into Cadillac Fairview’s other properties located across the country. 

The CF Browse app enables shoppers to interact with Cadillac Fairview shopping centres through one’s mobile device. That includes enabling product searches by brand, retailer, item or keyword. As well, special retailer offers and promotions that can be redeemed in stores are sent to the user on the app, with straightforward navigation that aims to simplify the process. 

“At Cadillac Fairview, we believe that building great digital and physical experiences is at the heart of our business, and we’re pleased to introduce CF Browse, an app that brings the power of our digital strategy to shoppers’ mobile phones,” said Jose Ribau, Executive Vice President, Digital & Innovation, Cadillac Fairview.  “Our focus is on delivering experiences that give our shoppers inspiration and efficiency, and we believe CF Browse will help us achieve both goals.”

“Through CF Browse, we’re transforming the traditional brick and mortar experience to a brick and mobile one, bringing together our many retailers into one digital platform. Not only does this approach provide our shoppers with the opportunity to interact with the mall before their arrival, but CF Browse also provides added value to our retailers to reach a broader and digitally engaged shopper base,” Mr. Ribau went on to say.  

Consumers can download CF Browse in beta for CF Toronto Eaton Centre, in the App Store: https://apps.apple.com/ca/app/cf-browse-search-save-shop/id1460186265, and in the Google Play store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.cadillacfairview.browse&hl=en

In an interview on November 13, Mr. Ribau provided insight into Ravel by CF’s efforts to enhance experiences in Cadillac Fairview malls. Part of the thought process that went into CF Browse involved studying the customer journey to determine where friction points could be reduced, while enhancing the overall customer experience through convenience and innovation.

CF Browse is geared towards time-starved consumers seeking an easier and faster shopping experience, as well as consumers who want to be ‘inspired’ and know what’s on trend. Browse by CF will make product suggestions based on what’s available in retailers in Cadillac Fairview malls — currently about 25 retailers at CF Toronto Eaton Centre are participating in the app’s test, with more to follow.

Data collected from users will eventually be used to personalize the shopping experience, with specific product selections and offers tailored to the app user. Retailers will also be provided feedback which will help target consumers and ultimately increase conversion. In the future, users may opt in to push notifications when certain items are on sale, for example, with retailers able to engage consumer preferences.

Cadillac Fairview’s Ravel by CF is part of an effort to put the landlord’s shopping centres at the forefront. Ravel was launched in early 2019 and was made possible through a $150-million fund — Cadillac Fairview is an anchor investor, along with Framework Venture Partners, which is a Canada-focused technology venture capital firm. About $50-million is from the Business Development Bank of Canada and another $50-million is from Cadillac Fairview, RBC and British Columbia’s BC Tech Fund.

CF by Ravel operates as an ‘in-house tech company’ which will see new digital platforms with connected technologies and artificial intelligence to improve the overall consumer experience in the landlord’s centres, while at the same time removing ‘friction points’ that are common in busy shopping malls nationwide. It comes at a challenging time for shopping centre landlords in Canada, as retailers close stores and international brands continue to enter the already crowded market. The word ‘Ravel’ is a derivative of the word ‘unravel’ — some are saying that the industry is ‘unraveling’ and Cadillac Fairview is looking to ‘bring it back together’ with Ravel’s goal to create positive consumer experiences not currently available at other shopping centre properties. 

Cadillac Fairview’s aim is to ultimately improve the retail sales conversion for its retailers. Mr. Ribau explained how the landlord has a role in helping physical stores be profitable, and Ravel by CF is able to do that by educating consumers about retailers and products available, while at the same time removing friction points that might otherwise lead to negative consumer experiences. As a result, Cadillac Fairview malls may become preferable to those of competitors. 

We also recently reported on ‘Streaming by CF’, which was an interactive streaming studio at the CF Toronto Eaton Centre that saw crowds gather to witness live podcasts. The 90-day test included learnings that will be used for future activations — an entirely new customer was attracted to CF Toronto Eaton Centre as notable celebrity appearances saw crowds descend on the space.

Other innovations are expected as Ravel by CF continues to test technologies, including reserved parking that was being tested earlier in the year at Toronto’s CF Sherway Gardens. That test has been expanded as part of the ‘CF Park ‘ iniative at CF Toronto Eaton Centre, where guests can reserve a parking space ahead of time.

Ravel by CF’s initial activities revolve around the ‘discovery’ process in the landlord’s shopping centres. That will be expanded to encompass ‘discovery to delivery’, where goods will be delivered from stores to where the shopper chooses. Mr. Ribau said that there would be more updates in the coming weeks as Ravel by CF aims to satisfy the customer journey ‘from discovery to delivery’.

Other shopping centre landlords are also looking to innovate as consumer shopping patterns change and online becomes more important than ever. Last month we reported that landlord Oxford Properties had also launched what it called ‘Canada’s first shopping centre omnichannel platform’. Called ‘Search.Find.ShopNOW’, the platform allows customers to see what products are offered by selected retailers in one online search. If a shopper was looking for a black dress, for example, Oxford Properties’ shopping centre websites showcase all products that fit the search, allowing consumers to contact the store to check availability, visit the store itself, or purchase the item directly from the retailer’s online website. 

The idea is to simplify the shopping process by allowing for searches across all channels at any time and anywhere, while offering a competitive advantage to retailers that lease space in various malls operated by the landlord. 

Competition will be ongoing as major shopping centre landlords innovate to attract and retain retailers and shoppers. While Cadillac Fairview boasts many of Canada’s top 30 most productive shopping centres, Oxford Properties manages Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre, which is approaching annual sales per square foot of $2,000. Other shopping centre landlords are also said to be innovating while at the same time creating exceptional retail experiences. This week, Ivanhoé Cambridge’s Montreal Eaton Centre unveils Canada’s first Time Out Market amid a billion dollar investment by the landlord in Montreal’s downtown core. Other landlords such as QuadReal, SHAPE, and Carbonleo are also creating unique retail experiences that will draw millions of shoppers in years to come. 

As landlords continue to try to outdo the competition, it’s ultimately the consumer that will win. Continuous investments on the part of landlords will be important to maintain the momentum, particularly as consumers seek out new experiences at a time when online shopping is growing at a faster rate than brick-and-mortar. 

Editor’s Note: Want to learn more about the future of brick-and-mortar retail, and how technology will play a role? There’s still time to register for Retail Council of Canada’s Brick-and-Mortar Forum, being held in the downtown Toronto Reference Library (789 Yonge Street, north of Bloor) on the morning of Tuesday, November 19th. Speakers will include:

  • Mark Palazzo, Senior Director, Leasing, Cadillac Fairview Corp.
  • Marcelle Rademeyer, President & CEO of Beauleigh, and Jean-Francois Nault, Partner and COO of Beauleigh. (including a discussion about Eataly’s entry into Canada)
  • Craig Patterson, Editor-in-Chief, Retail Insider (Author of the Retail Council of Canada Shopping Centre Study),
  • Nick Iozzo, Sr. Director Retail Innovation and Lead Generation, Oxford Properties Group,
  • Claire Santamaria, VP Yorkdale Shopping Centre, Oxford Properties
  • John Crombie, Executive Managing Director, Retail Services, Canada, Cushman & Wakefield
  • Chris Chan, Head of Retail Industry, Google Canada, and
  • Tracy Smith, Senior Vice-President, Marketing & Innovation Retail, Ivanhoé Cambridge

Article Author

Craig Patterson
Craig Patterson
Located in Toronto, Craig is the Editor-in-Chief of Retail Insider and President/CEO of Retail Insider Media Ltd. He is also a retail analyst and consultant, Director of Applied Research at the University of Alberta School of Retailing in Edmonton, and consultant to the Retail Council of Canada. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for over 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees.

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