Don Kingsborough, president of Westfield Retail Solutions, is making the case for collaboration.
That could be a hard sell for retailers and brands, who have been more apt to go at one another than work together, but he said the industry has to find a way to compete with Amazon.
And he said Westfield has plenty of reasons to want retailers to be successful, pointing to the real estate firm’s $60 billion total asset value.
“When we grew up in our careers, the goal was to take your company’s size and make it bigger,” Kingsborough said. “I’m here to say that it’s not about going from big to bigger to be successful in the future, it’s about going from slow to fast.”
And that means embracing new technologies.
“We’re building a platform in which retailers and brands can connect…so that when these technologies come up, we can network brands and retailers into every new technology,” Kingsborough said.
“For every $50 million in investment in innovation and technology that Amazon makes, retailers in the U.S., to compete with them, spend $5 million,” he said.
That means outspending Amazon is out of the question.
But he did signal a way forward for retailers operating together.
They all exist today and are rapidly developing and are expected to help merchants understand their customers better.
He argued that if merchants pooled their data, they could know much more about their shoppers and target them not in a general way but treat them as individuals.
“Amazon just bought a grocery chain to figure out what people eat,” Kingsborough said, referring to its Whole Foods acquisition. “If we can’t compete on the basis of what people do, we’re at a loss situation. Today we only know a piece of the consumer, the purpose of this platform is to know all about the people, to know about their desires. Do they exercise in the morning? Do they have a baby?”
Kingsborough knows what he’s up against.
“It’s a very simple thing to say you’re going to collaborate,” he said. “And yet for the last 100 years, brands and retailers have not actually collaborated.”