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ECE’s Google partnership to make centres ‘omnichannel’

ECE’s Digital Mall.

Hamburg based property company ECE has formed a partnership with technology firm Google. The retail-dominated ECE said the initiative is part of its push to expand its shopping centres into omnichannel platforms.

The partnership will enable bricks-and-mortar retailers to display products available locally in Google search results. Google will thus become an integral part of the “connected commerce” strategy that links online and offline channels, ECE said in a statement.

The Stocksquare data platform, which is a joint venture by ECE and Otto, Germany’s second largest online shopping platform, will provide the connecting element. Stocksquare already connects bricks-and-mortar retailers to the online platform and to the so-called “Digital Mall” that is now a feature of ECE centres.

Most physical purchases preceded by online check

ECE said the ability to determine whether a product they are looking for is available in-store and view a complete range with information about pricing and availability is particularly relevant because enquiries about local availability have risen by a factor of seven in the last year and because, globally, 68% of physical purchases are preceded by an online check.

ECE chief digital officer Philipp Sepehr said: “We see Google and Otto Group platforms such as as strong partners with which we plan to connect even more strongly in the future.”

ECE said integrating its centres with relevant online platforms is an essential component of its omnichannel strategy, which aims to connect bricks-and-mortar retail and online business better and more closely and enable additional revenue and traffic for stores.

“The demand for real-time information like store business hours, product availability, and contact-free product pick-up has risen strongly in recent months. Using Stocksquare, a local feed partner, local retailers can connect with each other online and offline over the long term and boost the visibility of their products in Google searches,” said Google managing director retail markets John Gerosa.

ECE also recently established a partnership with an Otto Group platform, Limango, and with retailer Jack Wolfskin trialled the sale of bricks-and-mortar products on the platform, delivering goods directly from the store. The exercise increased the average daily revenue of the Jack Wolfskin store at Alstertal-Einkaufszentrum Hamburg by 500%. Hermes Germany, which handled logistics for the trial, had set up a pop-up parcel shop at Alstertal-Einkaufszentrum.