Cars sit in the parking lot of Hamilton Place Mall in Chattanooga, Tenn., Monday, July 24, 2017. Hamilton Place turned 30 years old this August.

The owner of Hamilton Place mall is joining with a company that offers smart store retail analytics and deploying the technology at the Chattanooga shopping center.

"We're trying to learn more about the customers coming through the shopping centers," said Brian Lutz, who is director of digital strategies for mall owner CBL & Associates Properties Inc. "We want to provide a better experience for shoppers in Chattanooga."

Lutz said Chattanooga-based CBL will use a RetailNext Inc. platform that will utilize cameras to count customers who visit the common areas of the mall and enter the various stores and restaurants.

Also, the technology will show the amount of time people spend at locations in the mall, and it will calculate a person's gender and age along with the day and time of the visit, he said.

some text
Brendon Rembert, 4, walks around Hamilton Place Mall with his father Marco Rembert Monday, July 24, 2017, in Chattanooga, Tenn. The two were clothes shopping for Brendon.
some text
CBL President and CEO Stephen Lebovitz introduces pop-star Tiffany, far right. Also present of the stage, from left are Congressman Chuck Fleischmann, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke, Hamilton Place Marketing Director Kim Lyons (obscured), Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger, and CBL Chairman Charles B. Lebovitz. The 30th year anniversary of the opening of Hamilton Place Mall was celebrated on August 4, 2017.

But, Lutz said, the cameras will not capture anything that is "publicly identifiable information." For example, he said, the system won't know a person's address, birthday, or "anything that identifies as an individual."

"What I'm capturing is from 8 to noon, we had 1,200 men come through the food court who were 25 to 35," Lutz said. "There's nothing to be able to tell me who it is."

Plans are to kick off the system just before the Christmas holidays, he said.

The company also will use the platform at Asheville Mall in Asheville, N.C., and potentially at other properties in the future, Lutz said.

Stephen Lebovitz, CBL's chief executive, said the effort with RetailNext supports CBL's ongoing commitment to enhancing the shopper experience at its properties through "the thoughtful deployment of leading-edge technology."

"RetailNext's platform will provide us with the data necessary to design and deliver the experience our customers demand, help inform future decisions and empower our partners to better succeed," he said.

Lutz said some retailers, such as the parent of Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works, already use the technology.

"As we partner with retailers, we'll be able to share information," he said. "They share in their store and we share in the common area."

The insights afford retailers and property owners alike the ability to create more efficient and desirable customer experiences, according to CBL, which declined to say how much it's spending on the initiative.

Alexei Agratchev, co-founder and chief executive officer of RetailNext, said company officials are excited to join with CBL as it revamps the shopping experience at its properties.

"Shoppers no longer have to shop at malls, rather they want to shop at malls, and CBL is among the leaders in designing and delivering new state-of-the-art experiences in attracting and serving customers," he said.

More than 350 retailers in over 70 countries have adopted RetailNext's analytics software and retail expertise to better understand shoppers in order to increase same-store sales, reduce theft and eliminate unnecessary costs, according to the company headquartered in San Jose, Calif.

CBL owns, holds interests in or manages 123 properties, including 80 regional malls and open-air centers such as Hamilton Place and Northgate Mall in Chattanooga.

Contact Mike Pare at or 423-757-6318.

This story was updated Sept. 14 at 10:55 p.m. with more information.