Westfield is working to create the mall of the future.
The malls are looking to bridge the gap between digital and brick-and-mortar retail locations. Whereas once digital shopping might have been seen as a threat to mall shopping, Westfield hopes that instead it will become an enhancement.
One way its incorporating the digital world into the physical one is through the use of beacons. Placed around the mall, the beacons allow a customer’s phone to determine where in the mall the person is, even down to the storefront their standing in front of. That has huge advantages for navigation, but also offers retailer the opportunity to market directly to a customer that’s already in front of their store.
Peter Lowy, co-CEO and partner at Westfield Labs stated in a recent speech at UCLA that is very important for mobile and other technologies to draw consumers to physical locations and to streamline their experience with retailers both in person and remotely.
For instance, a customer standing outside a show store might get a push notification on his phone offering a discount on athletic shoes.
The beacons also allow a shopping mall to be searchable, just like Amazon. If you’re looking for a belt, for instance, you can search for belts within the mall’s app and see all of the stores in the building where you could potentially pick one up. When you select a place, sometimes the app can help you navigate not only to the store, but to the belt rack inside it.
In London, Westfield is taking that idea step further. When customers arrive at the mall, their license plate is scanned and they’re directed to the nearest parking space to the store they’re trying to go to. Suggestions are made on where that person might want to shop based on their recent browsing history, and the whole experience is customized for each individual, so shoppers are able to get a personal shopper experience while simply using their phone.
Some Westfield locations also offer online shopping within their walls, literally. The malls have virtual stores that are built into the wall of the building, serving essentially as a computer screen where orders can be placed and paid for. The novelty of accomplishing that task within the wall of a mall is a huge draw, and products can potentially be things that are exclusive to the mall, or not traditionally available in an online environment. The best part of that types of shopping? You can have your items delivered to your home, so you don’t have to tote heavy bags all the way home.
The mall of the future is coming. Are you ready?