‘Physical environments offer instant gratification and conversion’: Scentre Group’s Brandspace head of sales Chris Bolling on how to maximise brand experiences for customers

‘Physical environments offer instant gratification and conversion’: Scentre Group’s Brandspace Head of Sales Chris Bolling on how to maximise brand experiences for customers It’s an exciting time for brands and retailers. In-store shopping is back, Christmas is around the corner and retail spending is up post-lockdown 2.0 (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2021).

As we ramp up our conversations and projects with clients looking to activate their brands in-centre through innovative retail displays and exciting pop-up kiosks, we thought there’s no better time to catch up with the Scentre Group BrandSpace team to hear their first-hand insights and recommendations.

This week, we sat down with Chris Bolling, Head of Sales at Scentre Group BrandSpace, to discuss how retailers can capitalise on the return of in-centre shopping and how to maximise their brand experience as they welcome more of their customers back to physical stores. 

Here’s what Chris had to say…

The return of in-store shopping

‘Non-essential’ in-store shopping came to a halt during NSW and Victoria’s latest lockdown. Despite this, Chris was positive, stating that “while Westfield centres remained open and customers temporarily shifted toward essential-only shopping, it is exciting to see them returning with great passion to the broad range of experiences that our living destinations offer. Having recently received results from the latest customer sentiment study via Westfield iQ, Westfield’s online customer panel, Chris learnt that “63% [of shoppers] consider Westfield Living Centres as essential to their community”. He tells us how “great” it is to welcome more customers back and feel the energy and buzz again. “Customers are finally able to try things on, touch and trial products before they buy and are no longer having to deal with the lengthy delivery delays. When asked about how they feel about getting back to in-store shopping, receiving real-time support and assistance from the retail staff was a popular response.

Changing expectations of the consumer

COVID-19 safety is a priority for both businesses and consumers. “92% of customers feel safe in our environment,” says Chris. As well as this, “customers appreciate the ease, which is why we invested in more customer service team members in our centres, offering in-centre navigation and pop-up valet parking”. In the last year, there was a meteoric rise in customers opting for ‘click and collect services, especially at Christmas when shoppers were given a Covid-Safe option for picking up their goods. Click and Collect is a key driver of online success. Chris says that the new Westfield Direct platform “presented a significant growth opportunity for our SME retail partners with no online presence, with Westfield handling the end-to-end experience, including order fulfilment, logistics, last-mile delivery and customer service.” While online sales increased during lockdown periods and we’ve seen this dip slightly since the return to physical destinations.

In a series of recent interviews conducted by Scentre Group BrandSpace, customers at Westfield Parramatta discussed how they felt about the return of in-store shopping. An overwhelmingly positive response was felt from all respondents, expressing that they were ‘happy to be back’. “I miss interacting with people. I miss being able to talk to someone behind the desk, rather than having packages just thrown at your door. It’s nice to be able to chat with people,” commented one shopper.

Providing a new and improved experience for consumers

The easing restrictions couldn’t have come at a better time for consumers as it is the most important and competitive moment on the retail calendar – the lead-up to Christmas. Chris explains that “it will be critical to invest in brand building and awareness, as well as path-to-purchase advertising, to take advantage of the increased audiences in-centre and drive effective reach.”

“Personalisation is a popular trend that we will continue to see from brands this season”, Chris explains “retailers can offer customers the opportunity to elevate their gift giving with personalised purchases for loved ones”. Allowing the opportunity to gift something truly unique drives desirability, shareability and increased purchase conversion.

Create the perfect retail space

DisplayWise are experienced and passionate about conceptualising and delivering exciting solutions to amplify brands and their products or services. Our team of in-house experts work with clients from beginning to end and has 20+ years of experience in this area. From pop-up stores to experiential displays, premium point of sale to store-in-store fit-outs, we can work with you to create an engaging retail space or a perfect activation.

If you’re looking to excite, engage and WOW your customers, contact us today or download our brochure to find out more.

About BrandSpace and Scentre Group

BrandSpace is the in-house media provider at Scentre Group and the only way brands can access the Westfield environment. If you are interested in finding out about media, retail, sponsorship or partnership opportunities, contact your BrandSpace representative today or enquire here.

Scentre Group operates Australia and New Zealand’s largest Westfield Living Centre portfolio of 42 high-quality centres with over 12,000 retailers, receiving more than 450 million customer visits in 2020. Approximately 20 million people live within close proximity to a Westfield Living Centre. The aspiration is to be essential to our customers’ lives – their ‘third place’ outside of home and work for social interactions and experiences.