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'Aggressive' Amazon a real threat to retail – says Westfield’s chief digital officer

Amazon is an aggressive force that is a threat to the traditional retailer, according to Westfield Shopping Centre Group’s chief digital officer Kevin McKenzie.

Westfield's Kevin McKenzie

Speaking at the Open Mobile Summit in London today, McKenzie said the internet retailer, which has a delivery truck on “just about every corner” in San Francisco, is troubling for bricks and mortar retailers.

“They are very aggressive and it’s a concern for retail. I think the way that everybody plays together is through providing great customer experience, and I think it’s about taking advantage of local offering," McKenzie said.

He went on to talk about Westfield Labs, which looks at the way the digital shopper converges with the physical world. In the US, the group has partnered with a delivery service called Deliv to provide Westfield shoppers with the option to have their items delivered to where ever they need them, including their cars. All delivery is organised at point of sale.

McKenzie continued that Deliv is a “unique asset” Amazon doesn’t have, but added that “boy, are they figuring that out.”

Speaking about the use of beacon technology within retail, McKenzie shared the view that the reason the sector has been slow to adopt it isn’t that the technology is hard, but rather shopping centres need to figure out the value to the customer.

“I don’t think any of us want to be blasted with a bunch of messages that are useless and meaningless. What I think everybody is trying to figure out with iBeacon is, ‘what is that killer application that gets a user excited?’

“You want to know where they [shoppers] are, but it’s a privacy thing – if you don’t give them anything in return you won’t know where they are. You can be creepy about it but that’s not something I’m a fan of, I’d rather give the consumer something that’s of value and in return they tell me where they are. That application, that value, is what everyone is trying to figure out in that space right now.”

McKenzie added that the company would be piloting iBeacon technology in two new Westfield malls which are set to open in Milan and New York’s World Trade Centre in 2015.

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Natalie Mortimer

I look after all things creative.

All by Natalie