In response to falling foot traffic and the rise of online shopping, Westfield malls in the US and UK are giving themselves a digital make-over to win back shoppers.
Fighting an uphill - or is that online - battle
In the US particularly the brick and mortar retailers are doing it tough. Major retail brands such as J.C. Penney, RadioShack, Macy’s and Sears have all closed more than 100 stores in 2017, leaving some serious gaps in US malls.
Retailers globally are being rocked by the phenomenon known as 'showrooming' - when consumers browse in stores only to purchase merchandise online, often on the spot. The price competition is hurting even the biggest brands.
At the same time, consumers who once feared ordering apparel online are now doing so in numbers, as reliable sizing and 3D visualisation technologies improve.
Westfield responds with digital transformation
- Westfield Century City in California now includes smart parking. The service, which relies on cameras and sensors to identify consumers by their license plates, enables shoppers to pay for parking via their iPhone or Android smartphone without stopping at a station. .
- Free WiFi-powered digital networks allow consumers to browse information about the locations they choose to visit, including special offers and promotions.
- At the Westfield World Trade Center Complex, a digital media network features an LED display measuring 85 metres long to deliver advertising from such major brands as Ford, Sephora and Sennheiser.
- Westfield has this year rolled out 450 eye-level digital media screens at 17 flagship retail destinations, that customise advertisements for passersby in real-time. The screens and software track the number of individuals passing in front of them and use crowd analytics to determine the demographic of viewers in close proximity. Combined with such data points as emotional response, body language and dwell time, the technologies can provide more targeted advertising to certain cohorts.
- Consumer opt-in agreements could enable Westfield to provide more targeted consumer experiences. A typical scenario could be: Beacons in the digital media screens will let Westfield know that a specific customer is in a corner of the mall. Harnessing data the consumer has generated at brands, as well as their foot traffic in the mall, Westfield might send a push notification to a customer’s mobile phone recommending that they stop by its Javier’s restaurant in Century City after they buy a sweater that is on sale at Bloomingdale’s nearby.
- Instore GPS technology is also developing at a great rate and is expected to provide consumers with a map and directions to any store in a mall complex.
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