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Westfield Goes Interactive

The shopping center developer is making a digital play in a brick-and-mortar setting.

Westfield’s “digital storefront.”

Westfield, the large shopping center developer, is making a digital play in a brick-and-mortar setting.

This story first appeared in the March 24, 2014 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

At Westfield’s Garden State Plaza in Paramus, N.J., a “digital storefront” that looks like three giant iPads linked together sits in the common area of the second level of the wing opened two weeks ago. The device streams high-definition, larger-than-life photos of products from a host of retailers in the mall including Nordstrom, Michael Kors, Ann Taylor, C. Wonder, Macy’s, Maje, Sandro, Vince Camuto, Microsoft and Bose, beckoning shoppers to scroll, zoom and rotate the “curated collections of ultra-high-definition images.”

By walking up to and interacting with these big screens — together, they form a 7-foot-tall-by-11-foot-wide display — shoppers can readily see and learn about the merchandise and pricing, discover what’s new in the mall and scan the screens to mobile-shop. The dual-sided interactive display is made of high-resolution LCD (4K) and capacitive touch technology. To help drive traffic, the digital storefront shows a map of where the products are in the mall. The technology was developed by Westfield Labs, which focuses on digital and technology experiences and is a division of Westfield.

Last holiday season, Westfield tested an earlier version of the technology at the Westfield San Francisco Centre mall. There were three separate interactive digital storefronts, for Rebecca Minkoff, Toms and Sony, each displaying their own products. “Ten to 15 percent of those who passed by the storefronts stopped to view them, and of those, about 50 percent spent time interacting with the digital storefront,” said Lindsey Thomas, vice president of marketing and communications, Westfield Labs.

In San Francisco, only one person could use each digital storefront at a time. At Garden State Plaza, six people can be simultaneously interacting with the technology. Also, there is much higher definition so consumers can zoom in and see details such as the fabric on a purse or the inside of a shoe.

The digital storefront technology is cloud-based, enabling easy updating of the content. As far as how it feels to operate, “It’s like scrolling through a magazine online,” Thomas said.