Plano’s Shops at Willow Bend makes its stores’ racks searchable online

Plano’s Shops at Willow Bend is making its stores’ inventory searchable on the mall’s website as a plan-ahead shopping tool.

The mall is the first in the Dallas-Fort Worth market to partner with startup platform Shop Now! So far, 22 stores are participating, including Dillard’s and Macy’s. The Neiman Marcus store is not part of the launch, according to the mall’s website.

Kelly Howden, general manager of The Shops at Willow Bend, said the tool can be used before customers come to the mall and while they’re there from their smartphones. To get shoppers to try the tool, Willow Bend has created promotions and contests.

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Dallas-based Centennial, the real estate investment firm that bought 21-year-old mall in May, has used Shop Now! at other properties it owns since 2020. Centennial is working on plans to redevelop the property and said Monday that it is negotiating with several new tenants to be announced soon. The shopping center developer said it’s also planning community events to help bring traffic to the mall. A popup for China-based online fashion retailer Shein will open this weekend.

Colleen Heydon, Centennial’s senior vice president of marketing, said the new platform “revolutionizes the way people interact with their local shopping center.”

There’s no app to download since it operates from the mall’s website, and its search function operates the way people “actually think,” said G Wu, CEO and co-founder of Adeptmind, the company behind Shop Now! platform.

Shoppers can type in an item, such as red dress or blue shirt, a favorite brand or both and see what’s there. The platform also allows shoppers to populate a wish list.

Malls have been trying to get more digital for years. The pandemic accelerated the need for services that facilitate online shopping. Galleria Dallas management operates curbside operations for its stores. And Amazon recently announced that it will deliver from select mall stores in a pilot that includes Dallas.

Twitter: @MariaHalkias

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Plano’s Shops at Willow Bend makes its stores’ racks searchable online

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