Mall Shopping Gets an Upgrade With 7-Foot-Tall ‘Digital Storefront’ Tablets

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Window shopping just got easier. Fierce Retail reported Monday that Westfield Labs unveiled 7-foot-tall “digital storefront” tablets outside a New Jersey mall this week that allow shoppers to browse and shop products from retailers located inside the mall, including Macy’s (NYSE:M), Nordstrom, Ann Taylor (NYSE:ANN), and more. The dual-sided display on the tablets is 11 feet wide, so as many as six users can try out one digital storefront at once. Because the devices boast an interactive map that shoppers can look at to find selected products in the mall, the digital storefront pilot is expected to increase traffic into brick-and-mortar stores, reflecting a boost that many companies desperately need.

Thanks to e-commerce giants like Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN), many department store chains and brick-and-mortar retailers have suffered slipping sales on account of shoppers choosing to solely shop online. Places like Macy’s have been able to post encouraging earnings thanks to the lucrative holiday shopping season, but investors have been disappointed at the number of discounts retailers have to offer in order to enjoy any boost in traffic. If all goes according to plan, the digital storefront tablets could be introduced in other locations in an attempt to get people into stores and away from their computers.

According to Fierce Retail, the recently launched, life-size touch-screen monitors sit inside of Garden State Plaza Mall in Paramus, New Jersey, not only offering customers the opportunity to browse products but also giving them information about shopping events happening inside the mall. Shoppers can easily make their purchases on the tablets and then pick them up in stores, and because the display is maintained via the cloud, retailers can update the online items marketed to customers and keep track of what and what not is in stock.

The digital storefront tablets in New Jersey follow the lead of a similar LED display that Westfield Labs tested during the holiday season in San Francisco, Fierce Retail said. The display that sat outside the Westfield San Francisco Centre mall featured three screens that sold products from Rebecca Minkoff, Toms, and Sony (NYSE:SNE). Customers responded well to the new technology. Fierce Retail spoke to Lindsey Thomas, vice president of marketing and communications for Westfield Labs, who said that 50 percent of shoppers who stopped to view the tablets shopped and browsed through the retailers’ interactive displays.

It’ll be interesting to see how the new digital storefront pilot goes over at Garden State Plaza, as Westfield Labs’ technology toes the line between online shopping and traditional in-store purchasing. Customers have shown an interest in making many of their purchases online, so the digital storefront pilot lets them do just that via the tablets, but it also requires that they leave their homes and pick up their own packages. When Amazon.com offers benefits such as free and even same-day shipping, consumers might decide to continue to shop from the comfort of their own homes. Still, Westfield Labs is still doing all it can to upset that increasingly popular trend.

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