It has been known since the beginning of the eCommerce boom that retailing online would be very convenient for consumers. Online shoppers have the ability to browse for their items 24/7 and their goods can be instantly downloaded or delivered to their homes in days. This thus caused a major fear for traditional brick and mortar retailers since digital could potentially hurt their businesses. It was only until more of the innovative brick & mortar retailers began to see how they could harness the digital experience for their companies that this fear dissipated. Even though the online shopping experience is convenient in a multitude of ways, it doesn’t take the place of the personalized experience that being inside of a store brings.
Traditional brick & mortar stores are now taking advantage of reaching shoppers who are accustomed to the convenience, control, and speed of purchasing online. Studies have shown that two thirds of retail stores need to improve or introduce cross channel retailing and attribution. This way, consumers can research product information, check inventory, leverage promotions online and then purchase and do typical in store behaviors offline but then have it all tied together.
Now that the online shopping experience is more advanced than ever, there has even been a movement in remaking the physical store into a representation of the virtual shopping experience. There are touch screen computers in-store that serve as an interactive kiosk system to assist consumers or even browse the store’s stock, as well as the ability to be marketed to based on “beacons” on phones that target a mobile device’s GPS location.
How Commercial Real Estate companies are Starting Accelerators
Commercial real estate companies, like the Westfield Corporation, are starting accelerators to help tap into retail digital trends. Westfield Labs, a subsidiary of the retail mall giant is innovating in various ways via their recently created Accelerator: Connected Commerce.
When discussing the threat of digital with the Wall Street Journal, Peter Lowy, the co-CEO of Westfield stated, “We actually look at it as an opportunity. Every threat is an opportunity at the same time, and we are committed to creating a digital platform for our customers to be able to access both our assets and our retailers for their mobile devices.”
R/GA, a New York based digital advertising agency, has partnered with Westfield Labs to launch this accelerator called the R/GA Connected Commerce. Running from March – October 2016, this accelerator invited applications from early stage and growth stage companies focused on consumer engagement, the in-store/mall experience, and connected commerce. The specific focus areas included payments, mobile commerce, in-store experiences, analytics, customer service, merchandising, social commerce, loyalty and CRM, POS, block chain, inventory, augmented and virtual reality, delivery and distribution, and workforce management. The selected startups participating in the Connected Commerce Accelerator will be accessible to resources from Westfield Labs and R/GA. Also, collaboration and input are received from program partners that include Verizon, Bank of America Merchant Services, Shopify, and Macy’s. R/GA is providing startup participants with investors, mentors, partners, branding, strategic marketing, design and technology services, and business transformation.