Westfield Malls integrates online searching with brick-and-mortar shops

Aug 19, 2011
Shine

Thanks to online shopping — and an urban address — I haven’t been a regular shopping mall-goer in more than half a decade. But there’s something to be said for rows of shops and food court eats, and Westfield, the owner of 55 shopping centers across the U.S., is attempting to marry the convenience of […]

Thanks to online shopping — and an urban address — I haven’t been a regular shopping mall-goer in more than half a decade. But there’s something to be said for rows of shops and food court eats, and Westfield, the owner of 55 shopping centers across the U.S., is attempting to marry the convenience of mall shopping with online searching in its app Westfield Malls for iPhone and iPod touch.

The Westfield Malls app offers all of the standard features you’d expect from a business-centered app. Using your GPS location, the app can find the nearest Westfield property, and provides information, such as upcoming mall events, shopping hours, directions, amenities and even movie listings and times if a theater is attached.

The newest addition to Westfield Malls is its integrated product search, powered by Google. Type in whatever item you’re looking for, “silver heels” for example, and the app will search its database of more than 200 retailers, including Bloomingdale’s, Crate & Barrel, Kate Spade and Target, for items matching your query. You’ll be able to see what store offers the product, as well as a close-up image, description and price. The app will also suggest alternate searches, such as “silver evening shoes” for you to narrow your results. You can also restrict the number of items shown per store. I’m quite fond of this twist to online shopping, and it could certainly save you a few steps on your next mall trip. The downside to the product search is that there’s no guarantee your store location will have your item in stock or carry it at that location. The app helpfully provides a phone number so you can call the store to check.

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I found the app to be well-thought-out in terms of usability — it features a parking section with information on valet and family parking, plus a “Where did I park?” section that lets users notate with text or voice where they left their car. I don’t know about you, but I could see that feature being vital on a last-minute holiday shopping day in December. Westfield Malls also offers an interactive map of the property, featuring every store, plus amenities like restrooms or service desks.

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