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Retailers set to target shoppers as Westfield and Commbank trial location-based marketing

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 11.18.24 AMShoppers at Westfield in the Sydney suburb of Hornsby will be among the first in the country to receive location-based offers on their phone in a new project being trialled by Westfield-owner Scentre Group and the Commonwealth Bank.

Customers who download a CommBank Offers app will receive alerts from 20 participating shops as they walk through the shopping complex in a further digitisation of Westfield centres.

The pilot will run until December 31 and, if successful, will roll out across Australia next year.

The move is in line with Westfield’s strategy to exploit technology to improve the customer experience along with a desire to create more relevant and timely ad opportunities for retailers.

Scentre Group director of marketing and digital John Batistich has long argued that mobile will be a crucial weapon for retailers as they seek to put content in front of consumers in a relevant and timely way.

“What mobile enables is location. The web is clumsy, it does not understand where you are or what you are thinking, feeling and doing at that moment,” Batistich told a conference in June. “With mobile it gives you location and identity and provides rich context for marketers.”

Speaking to Mumbrella about the app launch, Bill Burton, Scentre Group general manager of Westfield’s outdoor division Brandspace, said: “This is about trying to get the right offer to the right person at the right time. What it isn’t is a blanket of bland, boring things within no relevance to the shopper.”

The app, which is only available to Commonwealth Bank customers, enables users to list preferences in order to receive offers of interest to them.

Burton said the initiative is “not rocket science” but is a digital version of tried and tested marketing such as brochures and leaflet drops.

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 11.19.18 AMThe different however is the location-based technology that enables customers to receive alerts when they are close to participating stores, he said.

“Our shoppers are hungry and want to interact with retailers and in our centres in a digital manner,” Burton said.

“They are ready to use mobile and digital tools to add to the great physical shopping experience they have. They want to integrate and know what is going on.

“The hard work is getting our business and environments ready to do that.”

He added: “None of this is rocket science. It’s what we used to do with a brochure or a letter drop or a promotion in centre but it’s now able to be delivered through digital channels.

“We are not doing something that is scary and new. It is something we have always done but now retailers can target consumers with offers at a particular time.”

Burton described the initiative as “another marketing tool” for retailers as they look to step up their engagement with shoppers.

“We don’t have the luxury of choosing not to play, we need to engage consumers on these forums,” he said.

He rejected suggestions consumers may feel stalked as they walk near certain stores, arguing the app is an opt-in service.

The trial is one of several digital projects underway at Westfield centres as the firm “gets tooled up and ready for the 21st century”, Burton said.

They include the Searchable Mall launched last year, in-centre wifi and tap and go facilities at its food outlets, described by Burton as the “last bastion of cash-only outlets”.

Angus Sullivan, Commbank executive general manger retail products and strategy, said: “The mobile phone has emerged as the new gateway to banking for millions of Australians.

“With more than 3.9m unique customers with the Commbank app, we wanted to create a more advanced shopping experience which offers value beyond making payments or checking a balance.”

Steve Jones

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