5 Questions: Square One’s plan to stay relevant in the digital age

Shoppers attend the grand opening of Holt Renfrew at Square One on Wednesday, July 27, 2016. (Photo: Kelly Roche/QEW South Post)
Shoppers attend the grand opening of Holt Renfrew at Square One on Wednesday, July 27, 2016. (Photo: Kelly Roche/QEW South Post)


Square One is bustling Labour Day as back-to-school shoppers gear up for the classroom tomorrow. The downtown Mississauga mall’s marketing director, Toni Holley, weighs in on technology, digital competition, social media and staying in the game.

1.  How is Square One using technology to lure shoppers?
Just as in-store experience is important to us, Square One is dedicated to creating a digital destination that our shoppers will want to continue returning to. We have just redesigned our website, and it now includes a number of new facets of the shopping centre for shoppers to explore. This includes SQ1Content that features Q&As from our influencer collaborators, articles and insider information from our retailers. Our website also features live parking space maps showing available parking lots, creating a seamless driving experience.  In 2017 we will also have WiFi throughout the shopping centre for visitors to stay connected while they shop. Our retailers are also bringing new developments to shoppers. For example, the new Sport Chek features 3D holograph displays, touch screen and virtual shopping tools, creating an interactive experience for shoppers. Square One is always looking to bring the latest tech developments to our shoppers. And, of course, we take pride in keeping our shoppers informed and engaged on social media @shopSQUAREONE on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

2. How does the back-to-school experience differ now versus 10, 15, 20 years ago?
In the past five years we have noticed that shoppers are doing their homework and online research before they come to shop. They know what they are looking for and what they want before they arrive. In the last few years, you may also notice that retailer promotions for back-to-school shopping starts earlier and earlier. Some retailers start promoting as early as July. Back-to-school shopping is always the most exciting time for new fall fashion and trends. The mall is always bustling with young people back from their summer holidays.

3. What are your thoughts on brick and mortar retail versus e-commerce?
Shoppers will always want to touch, smell and try on products before making a purchase. Brick and mortar will also remain important as many shoppers value a tailored customer service experience. Square One is a destination for families and friends to come and spend time together – something that shoppers just can’t experience online. Our beautiful new grand rotunda – a 60-foot high glass atrium is a very bright, peaceful space to sit and decompress. In addition to shopping, we have fine dining experiences – Jamie’s Italian that just opened in our new luxury wing, we have Starbucks reserve and our newly renovated Food Central. Square One also boasts beautiful outdoor space for visitors to enjoy sitting by the fountain, walking through the green spaces and restaurant patios.

4. How is Square One competing in the digital landscape?
Square One is always looking to create the unexpected for our shoppers to experience in-store and online. For our Fall/Winter 2016 ad campaign, we created a fashion music video component as well as photographic stills.

By working with video in addition to stills, we added another dimension for shoppers to experience the Square One brand and lifestyle. In conjunction with the video, we also created a social media contest to give shoppers and social media followers the chance to win a shopping spree and photoshoot. Readers can visit for full contest details and to watch the full campaign video. We are always seeking innovative ways to use digital platforms to showcase what’s in store.

5. Why do you think shoppers head to Square One instead of the Eaton Centre, Yorkdale, Sherway, etc?
Square One is the preeminent fashion and lifestyle destination in the west GTA. With the opening of our new luxury wing, we have a brand new Holt Renfrew flagship store, Harry Rosen, Salvador Ferragamo, Stuart Weitzman and Marc Cain and more. Square One has over 320 retailers, plus place to park and shop, as well as the first and only Simons in Ontario – a retailer you can’t find anywhere else in the GTA. We also pride ourselves on a superior customer service and guest services program which our shoppers value and come back for.  Square One’s proximity to Pearson Airport is also another reason shoppers choose Square One. The shopping centre is 10 minutes from the airport, making it the perfect destination for long layovers and travellers making their way to and from the airport.

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