In a move calculated to appeal to Millennials, Westfield Corp. on Thursday said it will partner with Uber to bring the ride-sharing technology company’s service to its U.S. properties.
Westfield’s multifaceted deal with Uber includes customer services and benefits it hopes will make shopping at its centers more convenient and enjoyable.
The mall operator will host between one and 10 designated drop-off and pick-up stations for Uber vehicles at each of its shopping centers in the U.S. Customers requesting an Uber car will be able to quickly identify where to go with signage similar to dedicated taxi stands or ride-sharing areas at large airports. Westfield will also digitally map the locations on Uber’s app.
At selected Westfield properties, Uber stations will include kiosks with customer service representatives and brand ambassadors trained to facilitate shoppers’ Uber experiences.
@Westfield Labs was formed in 2012 when nearly three out of four consumers reported showrooming and 88 percent admitted to web-rooming. It piloted digital services and deployed next-generation location and message services at Westfield London, and used integrated digital and physical technologies such as robotics and self-driving cars. Last year @Westfield Labs was replaced by Westfield Retail Solutions, which partners with brands, retailers, venues and best in class operators to create shopping experiences that marry physical and digital.
Westfield has been shedding non-core, less productive traditional and regional malls in favor of super-regional properties, and redeploying the capital into redeveloping existing centers or investing in new ones, such as an upcoming ground-up project in Milan. With 35 centers worldwide valued at $32 billion, flagship assets comprise 83 percent of the portfolio. The company plans to winnow its holdings to create a portfolio of 19 flagship assets under management.
“Westfield’s shopping centers already have an incredible combination of fashion, food, services, and amenities, with digital enhancements such as product search, directional and frictionless parking,” said William Hecht, Westfield’s chief operating officer in the U.S., adding of the Uber deal that it will “leverage modern technology in a way that makes it more convenient than ever to travel to and from any Westfield destination.”
The partnership includes the launch of Westfield’s first permanent Uber lounge at Westfield Century City in Los Angeles. The center, which has been undergoing a $1 billion renovation to be unveiled in the fall, is the most recent project to launch since the massive undertaking of opening Westfield World Trade Center in Manhattan, which is still not 100 percent complete.
“Uber wants to make transportation seamless for everyone, everywhere, but we can’t do it alone,” said Amy Friedlander Hoffman, Uber’s head of business development and experiential marketing. “Partners like Westfield play an important role in cities and how people move within them, so we’re excited to work together on this first-of-its-kind initiative aimed at delivering the best possible experience to our riders when they’re going shopping, dining or catching a movie.”