Connected Glass Blends Best Of E-Commerce and Analog Shopping [PSFK CONFERENCE SF]

Westfield Labs’ Head of Retail Partnerships Shares How Shopping Malls Help Online Brands Engage With Consumers In The Real World.

We are excited to invite Courtney Lapin to speak at the PSFK CONFERENCE SAN FRANCISCO. As the Head of Retail Partnerships for Westfield Labs – the innovation arm of Westfield Malls - Courtney will discuss Westfield’s user of connected glass which brings e-commerce to in-store shopping at the conference. Before we welcome Courtney to the stage October 30th, we asked her to share a few insights on merging the digital and physical shopping experiences and how this is changing the experience for mall goers.

Connected glass transforms vacant storefronts into giant touch screens allowing shoppers to browse items on the wall then purchase them on their phones. Why bring such an advanced technology to a shopping mall?

At Westfield shopping centres worldwide, we see over a billion shoppers a year, that’s a huge market opportunity, and with the connected glass shopping experience, retailers are now able to tap into that audience easier than ever.  With the connected glass shopping experience we can turn almost any surface into a storefront, allowing us the ability to provide a whole new level of retail opportunities to brands and consumers.

The more touch points you give a consumer the more ingrained your brand becomes with them and in an age of price-savvy and technologically connected consumers, the more hooks you can get into your consumer the better off you’re going to be long term.  This is not the age of the loyal consumers from past generations so giving consumers a reason to interact with you and your brand and making the experience easy, fun, and functional really become more important than ever.

In many ways this is about bringing an e-commerce into an analog format. How was eBay’s role central to this partnership?

They powered the technology and brought in some of their retail relationships to get this project off the ground.  It was fun to see two major retail brands come together on this.  It was a merging of an e-commerce giant with a brick and mortar powerhouse and the result was this unbelievable ecommerce like experience in a brick and mortar retail environment.  It was something that hadn’t been done quite like this before and the result was a new and exciting way for consumers to interact with brands in the context of an established shopping centre.

When you look at how many e-tail brands are beginning to develop offline presences, you begin to realize that there is something very special about offline retail.  In reading through the copious amount of articles on why e-tail brands decide to move offline there is one word that pops up every single time – experience.

How does this interactive experience match modern consumer expectations?

Consumers like to touch, feel, try on, interact with, and be excited by the instant gratification of finding a product you love and in real time being able to either take it home with you live, or have it delivered same or next day. Quite frankly, the fact that an e-commerce giant like eBay wanted to work with an offline retail group like Westfield is testament to the fact that the experience brands can give their consumers in an offline environment is becoming a bigger and bigger part of the consumers path to purchase and I very much believe that Westfield Labs is poised to be able to help a number of both retail and marketplace brands create the offline experience that they want to fully build out their brands.

I personally love shopping and part of that is experiencing a brand, touching a product, trying on a particular item, and to a certain degree, the instant gratification of taking something home with me in real time. Combining online and offline experiences allows brands and consumers to connect in an entirely new way. For brands like Bonobos and Warby Parker, it’s allowing more consumers than ever to experience their brand fully – from discovery of products to trying on of products to interacting with brand specialists throughout the purchasing experience. The ability to try on and get that personal attention that you can only really have in an offline environment has been proven to increase the amount a customer spends with a brand time and again, so why not give your consumers what they are repeatedly telling you they want?

How do brands stand to benefit from this technology?

There were a few things that we were trying to do by bringing the connected glass experience into our shopping centres.  First, we really wanted brands who traditionally may not have opened a store in a shopping centre like Westfield to be able to do so. The beauty of the connected glass experience is that pretty much any brand could participate with limited lead times, budget, and build out costs.  The connected glass experience requires so little of a brand to be able to offer their product to an entirely new customer base.

What other retailers are leveraging tech in an interesting way?

There are a number of brands out there doing really interesting things with technology in an offline environment as well, from Birchbox’s ability to help you choose the particular products that will work best for your skin tone and complexion to the way brands like Nike will allow you to custom build a shoe that you already know, love, and can accurately size.

To hear more from Courtney and our line up of industry experts on the future of retail as well as highlights from the PSFK’s 2015 Future of Retail report, join us October 30th from 8:30 – 12:30 at PCH’s Innovation Hub in San Francisco. Tickets are available online.