It seems that the Westfield Shopping Centre Management is prepared to take a risk by merging Internet retailers with their physical tenants.
The risk being that already pressured retailers will feel they are being leveraged and sacrificed to Internet retailers without a corresponding benefit.
Others will say that the process simply legitimises what is already going on when say, a customer tries on clothing in a retailer, notes the brand, size, colour and product number and then orders for a lower price over the Internet.
Others again will say that the Westfield project will simply force physical retailers to compete in the Internet world and develop competitive websites offering products at competitive prices.
Westfield must have done its homework, but how is their rental return measured?
How can you structure a sales percentage rental from an Internet retailer?
And if an existing physical tenant sets up a website, the leakage in sales to the Internet division would work against their traditional rental return formula i.e. a percentage of retail sales with access to formal business records.
Westfield presumably has developed a robust legal framework that answers those questions, details of which are yet to emerge.
Certainly they have been doing a lot of research through a fully owned subsidiary called Westfield Labs which recently unveiled its first partnership pilot with eBay Inc. that unites the power of mobile and online shopping with the physical retail world.
Westfield Labs and eBay Inc. are introducing three digital storefronts – a new shopping experience – just in time for the holiday season, by using the technology of “connected glass”.
The technology creates a shop window section into a giant iPad and at Westfield San Francisco Centre, people can touch and interact with digital storefronts for Sony, TOMS and Rebecca Minkoff to select and purchase over 100 products.
Consumers’ expectations for brick and mortar retail environments have evolved with the ubiquity of mobile and social technology.
With this in mind, Westfield Group created Westfield Labs to transform emerging ideas and leverage technologies into new physical retail experiences for the digital consumer.
This first launch, in partnership with eBay Inc., demonstrates Westfield’s commitment to shaping the future of retail, and here lies a new challenge for community pharmacy in being able to adapt existing storefronts to accept this new connected glass technology.
Sony, TOMS and Rebecca Minkoff merchandise are featured in three windows on the fourth floor of Westfield San Francisco Centre from Nov. 20 – Jan. 12.
“At Westfield Labs, we want to define what the future of retail will look like through social, mobile and digital innovations,” said Kevin McKenzie, global chief digital officer, Westfield Group.
“For our first pilot, we are excited to partner with eBay Inc. and brands that are pushing the boundaries of online and offline retail to showcase new technology that redefines shopping.
This is just a window into the types of technologies Westfield Labs will be launching in our international markets to provide people with memorable shopping experiences.”
“These brands are existing partners across the eBay Inc. portfolio and we are thrilled to expand their footprint by bringing the best of online technology to the physical world at Westfield,” said Steve Yankovich, vice president, innovation and new ventures, eBay Inc.
“Our leading edge experiences allow consumers to better engage with brands this holiday season in a seamless and personal way.”
Shopping the Digital Storefronts
Westfield San Francisco Centre visitors can walk up to each digital storefront window, touch the glass and begin shopping.
This type of shopping could be adapted for pharmacies to introduce sections for customer or patient use.
For example, new clinical services can be booked, prescriptions ordered and the latest catalogue perused.
After shoppers select items, they can proceed to checkout by pushing the order to their mobile phone and pay securely with PayPal, including guest checkout with credit or debit card.
The flexible delivery options make shopping the digital storefronts easy during the busy holiday season. They include free home delivery or convenient pick-up at the Sony Gallery located on the third level.
Each retailer has a personalized digital shopping experience, so pharmacists need to plan what their own experience would look like.
Sony offers a curated assortment of its hottest electronics gifts for the holidays, and is showcasing their technology innovation by powering all three digital storefronts – bringing the future of retail to life.
TOMS offers a selection of shoes and eye-wear from its latest holiday collection, along with products from its newly launched TOMS Marketplace helping people find the perfect gift that gives back.
Women’s fashion and accessories designer Rebecca Minkoff offers statement-making handbags and accessories with her trademark leathers, studs and edgy hardware.
“Sony is excited to bring our fans and shoppers a convenient, hassle-free way to buy gifts this holiday season,” said Megan Farrell Ragsdale, director of guest experience, Sony Stores.
“Plus, using Sony projection hardware for all three retail experiences gives us a wonderful opportunity to play a lead role in defining the future of retail shopping.”
“We are pleased to participate in this new shopping experience with eBay Inc. and Westfield Labs,” said Blake Mycoskie, founder and chief shoe giver, TOMS.
“We look forward to not only introducing our latest products, but highlighting other gifts that give back from other companies who are using business to improve lives.”
“We are honored to be a part of eBay Inc. and Westfield Lab’s digital storefront initiative and pioneer a new way to unite fashion and technology,” said Uri Minkoff, chief executive officer, Rebecca Minkoff.
“It’s a groundbreaking opportunity to enhance and tailor the shopping experience for our customer in the digital age.”
The digital storefronts are open now at the Westfield San Francisco Centre on 865 Market Street.
The Sony, TOMS and Rebecca Minkoff digital storefronts are located on the fourth level and are open during Westfield San Francisco Centre holiday hours.
There is no doubt that the future for all physical retailers (including pharmacy) lies in developing unique Internet platforms.
With the cloud technology already available many of the systems within pharmacy can be made accessible through the Internet.
This would mean that anyone connected in this fashion and who selected suitable alliance marketing partners would eventually be able to reach any household in Australia.
No doubt pharmaceutical manufacturers would become interested in dominating this space.
Already the digital television world is making this a reality not too far away.
Pharmacists must invest in their future and either go it alone or instruct their leadership bodies to do the job they were elected to do.
It can’t be avoided, but it is your ultimate choice to compete or disappear into the background.