Scentre Group today revealed new research that confirms online channels have a significant influence on offline sales as shoppers increasingly browse online before purchasing in store, with “clicks feeding bricks”.
Conducted by Monash University’s Australian Centre for Retail Studies (ACRS), the report reviewed the role of the Searchable Mall (www.westfield.com.au) in influencing purchases offline and online sales and how the shopper journey has evolved in the digital era.
The research found that 72% of shoppers that completed a “web event”, like view store and product details, called a store or clicked out to a retailers website from westfield.com.au, within the last year, resulted in a purchase in-store or online, influencing $343m in annualised sales. Of this, $263m was purchased within a Westfield shopping centre, $64m purchased from the online stores of retailers, viewed on the site, and $16m purchased in other stores.
While 90% of shoppers purchase the products they intended, half of those purchased additional items, too.
Dr Sean Sands from the ACRS said: “This research suggests that westfield.com.au has a key role in generating down-stream sales for retailers’ featured on the website.
“Shoppers are increasingly researching products online prior to making purchase decisions, spending significantly more than store-only shoppers. Academic studies have shown that websites that focus on providing information on products and prices significantly increase revenues for retailers, even without the option to directly purchase online. It is pleasing to see the same applies in a shopping centre context with westfield.com.au. This provides further evidence of the positive impact that an online presence can have on in-store behaviour,” he said.
As the first digital product for Scentre Group launched in November 2013, the Searchable Mall has successfully shifted focus from an e-commerce site, to a platform that helps shoppers explore their local Westfield shopping centre through a range of features that allow you to find stores, opening hours, deals, events, dining options, cinema times and products from the best fashion, beauty, consumer electronics and home ware retailers and purchase products via retailer sites.
Pivotal to this online experience is the integration of dynamic product feeds from retailers located in Westfield centres. Since November 2013, over 160 retailers have been integrated to the Searchable Mall featuring over 190,000 products from brands such as David Jones, Oroton, Cue, Rebel, Dick Smith, Country Road, Napoleon Perdis, Sass and Bide, General Pants, The Body Shop, Jeanswest, Sportsgirl, Forever New, Bonds and more.
According to David Kesby, CEO, Cue Clothing Co: “Partnering with Westfield on the searchable mall has created another opportunity for our shoppers to find and shop our range. At Cue, digital innovation connects our customers with our brand wherever and whenever they want and we are pleased to have another online channel to showcase our products and content. We have seen how the searchable mall has influenced sales, and are looking forward to continuing our partnership with Westfield.”
David Robinson, David Jones group executive, marketing financial services and customer innovation said,“At David Jones our affiliate program is an essential component of our digital marketing strategy. Westfield.com.au is a key affiliate partner and we’ve seen positive traffic results from searchable mall since it launched in November 2013.”
The Searchable Mall has provided another channel for Australian retailers to connect with customers and extend their online brand presence.
“How online channels influence offline sales is now the biggest focus for leading retailers. As we have found on westfield.com.au, investments in digital innovation are increasingly being evaluated by store experience and performance over online sales only”, said John Batistich, director of marketing.
“The research into the browsing and purchasing behaviour of our shoppers shows the important role the Westfield Searchable Mall plays in influencing sales into our retailers’ stores with us and on their websites. We are an offline affiliate for our retailers.
“We are excited about the value the Searchable Mall is generating for our shoppers and retailers and we are committed to collaborating with our retailers to get more products and valuable content integrated onto our platform to improve the shopper experience from web to store,” said Mr Batistich.
Beyond the Searchable Mall, Scentre Group has launched a series of digital innovations recently to better connect the physical and digital shopper.
The $400m redevelopment of Westfield Garden City in Brisbane and the $475m redevelopment of Westfield Miranda in Sydney are the latest centres to offer a more complete suite of digital innovations including ticketless parking in Miranda, free WiFi, large entertainment projections, interactive digital gaming screens and a range of ambient activations catering to each market such as local art projections, historical content displays, social media content displays, touch screens and interactive installations.
“Through our ongoing commitment to large-scale redevelopments we can build the infrastructure required to continually innovate, future-proof and digitally enable our shopping centres. High value and high quality WiFi is now offered in Garden City and Miranda, with an announcement on our WiFi strategy to take place soon,” said Mr Batistich.
Further contributing to the seamless shopping experience is the new ticketless parking system launched at Westfield Miranda in November. Originally piloted in Westfield London, the Westfield Labs initiative uses licence plate recognition that allows shoppers to park without getting a ticket or stopping at a pay station, and has over 20,000 registrations since launch in October.
Finally, Scentre Group launched a pilot food app at Westfield Sydney, “Eat on Time” that allows CBD workers to pre-order their lunch and avoid the queues, accumulating over 5,000 downloads in its first 6 months.