Westfield, the shopping centre group, is looking to trial geolocation and NFC technology within the next six to nine months, revealed Myf Ryan, Director of Marketing UK & Europe for Westfield, at the British Retail Consortium’s omni-channel conference.
Following a presentation on what bricks and mortar retailers need to do to connect with the ever changing habits of consumers, Ryan was asked what Westfield was doing around NFC technology.
While Westfield London has hosted NFC initiatives from other media owners like CBS Outdoor UK, she admitted that Wesfield itself hasn't done a lot, citing the “very interesting debate” happening around brands harnessing the data transmitted by devices and using it to target consumers in a specific area with messaging around offers or in-store deals.
“We haven’t specifically trialled geolocation or NFC technology yet but we are working with our digital team in San Francisco and it is something we are looking to trial within the next six to nine months,” she said.
Discussing more widely what bricks and mortar retailers need to be doing to connect with the digitally minded consumer, Ryan added that creating a destination is key to success.
“There is a much bigger focus on the experience, focussing on fewer but bigger flagship destinations. Creative destinations are also being delivered by immersive experiences, they are a means of capturing the consumers’ attention but it is important that they are placed at the centre of the action,” she said, later adding that technology is an enabler of this.
“The next stage of the digital and physical convergence is to enable highly immersive shopping experiences in whatever environment they are in and whatever device they may be using. One reason for doing this may be financial, omni-channnel consumers spend four times as much as people shopping through traditional channels,” she said.
She went on to discuss research commissioned by Westfield which found that, at minimum, having a decent mobile signal when shopping is important for more than 80 per cent of its shoppers and added that free WiFi results in a considerable uplift in engagement, although it has not been made mandatory for Westfield retailers.
This is all the more important in the UK where Ryan believes consumers are much more sophisticated when it comes to navigating a brand’s mobile offering.
“Looking at the Western global world – so UK, USA, and Australia – UK consumers are far more advanced. They are more at ease in the digital world,” she said.
Ryan praised a number of brands for their efforts in bringing the physical and online worlds together, including luxury retailers like Burberry and Louis Vuitton, but ended by saying that for her John Lewis is one of the stand out retailers with its compelling in-store, online, mobile and click and collect offering.