Westfield Tour off to a racing start
The capital of innovation, San Francisco is home to some of the world’s biggest technology companies including Facebook, Twitter, Apple, and Google, and this year’s tour delegates saw first hand how the city’s rapidly growing digital movement is influencing the global retail sector.
The group was introduced to a new wave of change taking place at Westfield San Francisco’s innovation centre, Westfield Labs, which is continually pushing the boundaries of blending the virtual and physical worlds of retail.
Tech giant, Apple, spoke to the group at its headquarters on the iBeacon movement and what it means for the retail industry, as well as presentations from Cisco, Intel, and Deli – a crowd sourcing courier service that’s putting a new spin on same day delivery across the US.
The second stop on the 16 day tour was Seattle. Home grown department store chain, Nordstrom, discussed the ongoings at Nordstrom Labs, where it simulates models of
potential store concepts, while Costco shared some of its tricks of the trade in worldwide success.
Like San Francisco, Seattle is a tech heaven. A stand out of the tour so far was concept store, Hointer, with the brand’s founder and former Amazon executive, Nadia Shouraboura, speaking to the group about her unique business model which sees the entire instore experience driven by a customer’s smartphone.
The tour visited Microsoft HQ and saw a snapshot of how technology may be integrated into everyday life in the years to come at its Envisioning Centre.
Despite the heavy focus on technology, the study tour has also reinforced to delegates the importance of bricks and mortar retail.
In San Francisco, fashion retailer, Gap, and department store, Bloomingdales, both highlighted the need for creating company culture, while in Seattle outdoor and adventure retailers Cabela’s and REI have proven that traditional retail is surviving and thriving in 2014, thanks to their theatrical store fitouts.
In the next week, the tour heads to Stockholm, followed by London, and Barcelona.
More in depth coverage of presentations and details on the store concepts pictured and more will be found in Inside Retail Magazine’s August/September issue.
For live updates of the tour, follow Inside Retail on Twitter @InsideRetailau and Instagram @InsideRetail or the hangtag #wrst14.
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