Sunday, May 26, 2024

International news: shopping centre developers and retailers need to join forces

Westfield Corporation Co-CEO Steven Lowy has called on the retail industry to leverage shared data and expand parternerships between retailers and real estate developers in order to drive competitiveness in a transforming environment.

Westfield Corp (distinct from Westfield in Australia and New Zealand, which is operated by Scentre Group) has interests in 34 shopping centres in the US and UK, encompassing around 6,400 retail outlets and total assets under management of US$28 billion ($40.5 billion).

Speaking at the National Retail Federation Big Show in New York, Mr Lowy shared three pillars of future success in the changing retail industry:

Collaboration is the new competition

Traditionally, the industry has protected proprietary intellectual property above everything else, but the world is changing.

“That leaves us with a choice,” Mr Lowy said. “Are we going to continue to be driven by narrow-minded institutional and historical thinking, and watch our revenue suffer? Or are we going to free our data from its silos, leverage the power of our collective knowledge and create more value for the customer?”

We are driven by data and data is driven by scale

With collective insight into shoppers’ browsing habits, geo-location and online activity, shopping centres and retailers can make the most of data in real time to seamlessly blend digital and physical shopping experiences. Westfield has already made deep investments in building a digital team – Westfield Labs in San Francisco, which was created three years ago – and now has product development, design, data, analytics and digital infrastructure teams.

Make experiences matter across the industry

“Imagine what’s possible when we all enhance physical retail spaces and take some of the friction out of physical commerce,” Mr Lowy said. “Human interaction is still at the heart of what we love to do. When they’re done right, shopping centres can bring people together and give customers experiences that they simply couldn’t have anywhere else, but we also know that digital can create an added element of interest, engagement and value to the customers in our centres.”

Mr Lowy went on to explain that the company’s significant investment in digital experience included a smart global network that links all Westfield’s iconic centres and allows retailers to seamlessly plug into their shared customers across multiple touch points.

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