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Dive Brief:

  • In an effort to connect shoppers with in-stock items at its malls, Simon is expanding its Simon Search technology into The Mills and Premium Outlets, the company announced on Monday.
  • Since launching Simon Search last June, Simon has added the tool to 187 Simon properties, enabling shoppers to find the products they’re seeking across more than 3,300 stores and 50 brands. The tool is available on Simon’s website and app, and at the malls’ digital directories, per the press release.
  • Among the brands and retailers participating in Simon Search are Macy’s, Pacsun, J. Crew Factory and Warby Parker. Simon said its search tool had been used for close to 2 million searches over the past month.

Dive Insight:

Simon introduced its search tool last year, and it launched with products from brands like Gap, Old Navy, J. Crew and Anthropologie. Though malls have traditionally been places for window shopping, this service aims to draw intentional shoppers by showing availability of specific items.

“Consumer interest in Simon Search has far exceeded our expectations. It’s clear that this unique tool provides significant value for our shoppers, enhancing the overall shopping experience,” Mikael Thygesen, chief marketing officer at Simon, said in a statement. “It’s also a great platform for participating brands to tap into shopper demand and drive incremental traffic and sales to their stores.”

In addition to courting digital customers with its search tool, Simon has also sought direct-to-consumer brands for its brick-and-mortar mall properties. Last fall, the company tapped Leap, which helps DTC brands open physical stores, to attract digitally native brands to its properties, starting with companies like ThirdLove, Goodlife and Sugarfina.

In Simon Property Group’s most recent quarterly earnings report, the company’s retail holdings reported a $54.5 million operating loss, and CEO David Simon noted that its retail ownership — which includes companies like J.C. Penney — could wind down over the next five to 10 years. Simon’s lease income in the quarter rose 3.3% year over year to $1.2 billion.