Shopping Centres can provide the ultimate one-stop-shop retail experience.
Retailers and brands can engage, draw and sell to a highly desirable captive audience – shoppers all hungry to spend and take advantage that this medium has to offer.
As well as the convenience of being able to get everything you need under one roof and the benefit of on-site free parking, successful Shopping Centres offer considered zoned areas, theatre and variety. All designed to increase footfall, and by design, attract the biggest and best retailers.
With this front of mind, we headed to Westfield London Shopping Centre as part of the retail safari team day out.
Launched as a pioneering shopping and leisure complex – with more than 250 high-end shops and 50 restaurants, supplemented by a luxury spa and 14-screen cinema – our expectations were high.
Size is everything
At 150sqm, the equivalent of around 30 football pitches, it certainly doesn’t lack scale. Scale means choice and there is lots of it. Whether you’re a department store junkie, a high-street fanatic or hoping to seek out a luxury designer brand, Westfield London offers a retail experience that everyone can get excited about. However, while it benefits from scale, disappointingly this delivers in numbers only and it lacks the wow-factor of flagship stores.
Mixing established store formats with new
While we felt that theatre and experiences were the missing elements from many of the stores we visited, Westfield London makes up for this somewhat in areas running down the central walkways. Featuring a mix of big brands and smaller pop-up style units, it offers respite from the formulaic permanent stores. Sky uses this space for agility tests and demonstration designed to ‘test your Sky Sports skills’. There is also an area featuring independent fashion designers where Fashion Luxx showcased its talents.
A touch of retail theatre
Sound specialist Bose delivered a stand-out retail experience by taking the concept of theatre literally. Its in-store mini-theatre enabled shoppers to view the product in action, with staff revealing the diminutive size of the speakers after the impressive audio performance. Staff support and involvement continued throughout to deliver a polished experience that made you want to go back for more.
Westfield London excelled at creating clearly defined zoned areas, giving shoppers a different feel reflecting the nature of their needs. Segmented by a double-glass fronted aesthetic, The Village is home to luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Tiffany and Mulberry. Leading US architect Michael Gambellini, known for his award-winning observation deck on top of New York’s Rockefeller Centre, is responsible for the futuristic chandelier-lit design. In addition to this were the central corridors for the more ‘pop-up’ proposition, and of course an area dedicated to food – in this both around the Centre and in the new Southern Terrace, offering outside seating.
Westfield London boasts a tried and tested concept, it’s mainstream done well, and it excels in its delivery. Spectacular architecture, contemporary features, convenience, diverse offerings and lots of stores make it a force to be reckoned with as a shopping destination.
Yet we left this retail experience with mixed feelings. There were very few surprises and it’s here where we believe stores can really engage shoppers and give them a reason to move offline into the physical shopping environment.
It seemed to lack the quirkiness that intrigues you about Shoreditch and the buzz, excitement and theatre of Oxford Street that revels in an abundance of flagship stores.
For retailers, Westfield London isn’t a place for trial or testing concepts – it’s where you roll out your most popular footprint. A place where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and if you’re looking for a convenient shopping experience then this has to be up there with the best.
If you would like to find out more about our Retail Safaris, call us on 0161 872 7813
Retail Safari – Westfield Shopping Centre Team
Lucy Lorimer, Head of Strategy
Adam Tregaskis, Head of Retail
Richard Garnett – Senior Designer
Angie Dac – Account Executive