For the past year, initiatives facilitating delivery have flourished across the Group as they are a way of supporting retailers’ businesses when stores were closed and of ensuring a seamless and touchless experience for customers while social distancing.
Omnichannel retail has been a central matter for the Group for several years: it is one of the 6 innovation priorities of the Group, as part of the “Strengthen Impact” pillar of URW innovation strategy. But while they were already initiatives aiming at fostering omnichannel retail before 2020, for example through partnerships with delivery services like the POC at Westfield Forum des Halles with Stuart, in 2020 omnichannel options, especially delivery – to the home, to the customers’ car – spread and became necessary to attract customers and drive tenants’ sales.
Making delivery fast and easy for customers
In Sweden, Westfield Mall of Scandinavia launched a Homedelivery service enabling customers to order from home from retailers (Clas Ohlson, Lekia, H&M, Zara, Rituals, Lego, Decathlon, Lindex, Kappahl…), they can choose to either receive their purchases at home or at a pick-up point in the centre. For home delivery, the Click&Service staff handles the order and sends it the same day for free. Alternatively, the customers can pick up their order at the pick-up point in Westfield Mall of Scandinavia’s parking garage.
In Westfield Chodov, in Czech Republic, a delivery service to customers’ cars was launched with three dedicated pick-up zones set in the parking lot. 15 tenants enrolled, including Mark&Spencer, Huawei, DM Drogerie Markt. Providing tenants with a new service gave them the opportunity to continue to run their business in times of limited operation as well as to serve customers who are vulnerable or have special needs.
Similarly, Westfield Century City in the US launched “Curbside”, a concierge delivery service for visitors. This service enables customers to buy online from stores and then have the Concierge deliver their Curbside order directly to their cars. In an effort to further support retailers and provide additional services to visitors, the service was launched in each U.S. centre, with 5 to 30 participating retailers per centre.
Facilitating food delivery
With food delivery being increasingly popular over the years, several centres had already started working on the facilitation of food delivery, such as Westfield Vélizy 2, France, when the New Dining Experience was launched in 2019 as the first hub for food delivery in Europe. Following this successful launch, omnichannel dining was scaled in 40 URW destinations such as Westfield Les Quatre Temps, Westfield Parly 2, Westfield London, etc. All regions have ongoing discussions with major food delivery platforms to adapt to specificities of regional markets. And during the Covid crisis, this service grew in popularity very quickly.
One illustration of that trend is Glories, in Spain, that decided to open “Dark Kitchens”. Food providers had to be more creative to meet demand, and better organize the collection of food before being delivered to the end-customer. Indeed, these “Dark Kitchens” also called “ghost kitchens” or “cloud kitchens” are spaces where food can be stored before being delivered, hence limiting contacts with riders who can directly pick orders from these hubs. These Dark Kitchens were open with the operator Cuyna in Les Glories centre in vacant units, starting with a 250sqm area with direct access for riders and a take-away for customers in the car park. This was the first Dark Kitchen for a European URW centre and other projects will emerge in the next months in other centres of the Group!
At URW, we strongly believe that omnichannel retail is the future of retail, it is combining the best of both worlds, digital and physical, to create seamless experiences. Once again, we are proud to see that our shopping centres have adapted and moved forward locally to offer innovative and bring more value to both our customers and retailers in such a special period. These initiatives will also be very helpful for the rest of our centres, which can get inspired and learn from these past experiences.Julie Villet