Simon malls testing loyalty program at 2 NJ locations
Next time you head to the mall, how would you like a designated parking space in the front row?
That's one of the earned perks offered through a pilot program currently running at two New Jersey malls.
The Simon Insider program, a product of the Simon Property Group, awards shoppers with points for nearly every purchase they make inside the mall, from lunch at the food court to a fancy outfit at a high-end clothing retailer.
The more points you earn, the more you get in return — sometimes in the form of cash back.
The test run is in its sixth month at Menlo Park Mall in Edison and Rockaway Townsquare, along with two properties in North Carolina.
"We're trying to develop a better, closer relationship with our shoppers — not be so anonymous," said Ed Vittoria, Simon's vice president of loyalty. "If we know who our better shoppers are, then we can give rewards like this."
Once shoppers are registered with the free program, every $500 spent at one of the malls results in $10 cash back. Individual merchants can attach their own perks to the program as well.
And for the big spenders — those who put out $1,000 within about 60 days — there's a special parking pass that allows them to park in reserved spaces "in the front row near the main entrances," Vittoria said.
If successful, the program could be expanded to all Simon properties. There are 14 total in the Garden State.
According to Carol Kaufman-Scarborough, professor of marketing at the Rutgers School of Business-Camden, loyalty programs tied to multiple retailers are not a new concept, but the mall format is unique.
"Certainly it's beneficial to the company as well to be provided with our shopping habits," she said.
More than 97 percent of the merchants are included in the program at the four test malls.
Shoppers can sign up online or at a mall kiosk. Register one or more existing debit/credit cards with the account, and the points will automatically rack up once a purchase is made with one of those cards.
"We specifically set it up so you wouldn't have to carry a different card or a key tag," Vittoria said.
Each mall's program operates independently, meaning $500 can't be spent at a combination of malls in order to earn $10 cash back.