Westfield plots digital developments to improve its ‘engagement with shoppers’

WestfieldWestfield is to introduce new digital features in its malls as its marketing chief spoke of the importance of stepping up its “engagement with shoppers”.

Director of marketing John Batistich said finding new ways to communicate with visitors was becoming increasingly important, while providing “immersive experiences” was also a major focus.

“We need to engage with shoppers in new ways,” he said.

Among the initiatives include the gradual introduction of wifi in malls, which is expected to begin in October and will enable retailers to communicate with potential customers by targeting them with news, special offers and products.

“It will be a very strong roll out with 3G or better and will be based on an opt-in that will create contextualised content for customers,” Batistich said.

In addition, the shopping mall giant will introduce augmented reality in the youth precincts, starting in mid September at Westfield Miranda and Garden City.

It will include various youth games, including interactive pinball and generative art, with plans to roll out the concept to more Westfield centres in 2015.

Meanwhile, a Vivid concept will also start mid-September at Garden City with large screens that will change with the weather. There will also be an interactive, mobile based activation  ‘Wish Upon a Lantern’ where customers can input their name which will then be seen on a virtual lantern.

Restaurant areas will also have ambient lighting from Thursday to Sunday night.

“It’s about creating and providing immersive content,” Batistich said.

He highlighted the launch late last year of its Searchable Mall as as example of the way Westfield is looking to engage and communicate with shoppers. The online platform provides a range of information about their local Westfield mall and helps shoppers find fashion and beauty products. It also allows shoppers to click-out to retailer websites to purchase products online.

Batistich claimed that in the first eight months since launch the Searchable Mall “has influenced $39m worth of sales in the malls”.

He also pointed to the launch last week of a new app – ‘eat on time’ – as another way Westfield was attempting to innovate. The app enables people to pre-book meals at Westfield Sydney and jump the queue at lunchtime.

More than 500 were downloaded on the first day Batistich said, which has since risen to 1,200.

In a separate development, Westfield owner and operator Scentre Group has struck a deal with advert delivery firm Adstream Australia who will work with Westfield’s in-house outdoor division Brandspace.

Adstream Australia managing director Peter Miller said: “This presents an unbeatable opportunity for advertisers wishing to reach Australia’s retail heartland, connecting with shoppers while they shop.”

Last month Westfield took advertising sales for its out-of-home floor-based screens in house from next year after awarding Brandspace the contract, ending its relationship with Ooh Media.

Steve Jones



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