The CX thinking behind Westfield A/NZ's new brand and digital identity

Director of customer experience at Scentre Group shares the big cultural and technological changes occurring to reposition the retail site operator's business to be customer-led

Westfield A/NZ’s new visual identity and digital platform relaunch represents a small part of a much wider change in strategy at the Scentre Group business aimed at becoming a more customer-led organisation, its customer experience leader says.

The ASX-listed retail property owner took the wrappers off its new-look branding and westfield.com.au and westfield.co.nz websites officially today, offering a visually more contemporary, colourful and digital-first design, director of customer experience, Phil McAveety, told CMO.

The new look has been launched across the group’s 40 websites, plus more than 1500 SmartScreens and SuperScreens, email, digital directories and the group’s mobile app. This will be followed up with a rollout across physical assets shortly.

On the surface, the look retains the Westfield logo and is supported by a new graphic ‘W’ device, designed to better unite the digital and physical and featuring a broader colour palette, bespoke patterns, cleaner typography and fonts and supported by a more conversational tone of voice.

In addition, fresh digital functionality has accompanied the visual overhaul, including new digital shopfronts, which allow retailers to bring their own brand personality, products and bespoke offerings onto the site to better link to in-store experiences. Retailers can also now self-publish content.Early retailers taking advantage of these tools include fashion retailer, Cotton On.

Cotton On's Westfield site
Cotton On's Westfield site


But it’s what these digitally changes reflect internally and culturally that is arguably most significant for Scentre Group.

Over the past 18 months, McAveety has spearheaded a customer-led transformation focused on shifting the company from real estate operator to “customer-centric and experience focused brand that happens to develop real estate”.

“It sounds like a nuance but it’s an important one and that’s how we’re recreating the organisation,” he said.

To help, Scentre Group united marketing, digital, operations and customer insights under McAveety’s leadership, creating a more integrated customer experience team that has since been building out a customer connected strategy.

“Part of that was to integrate digital and physical experiences, and be leveraging technology to improve our market-leading physical destinations,” McAveety explained.   

Scentre Group has also taken back ownership of its digital properties back from a third-party partner, hiring Accenture’s Fjord division and investing in its own digital technology stack in order to create a new digital platform from which to build out more digital products.

The first was the revamp of the .com sites, which McAveety described as less corporate and more contemporary. As part of that process, it created a digital-first identity which will now underpin every asset.

“Now we own our own digital platform, we’ll have dynamic releases, integrate user-generated content, adding other capabilities related to parking and other services. Then we’ll move into launching other app and mobile-based services such as assisted parking, virtual concierge, and more targeted content delivery,” he said. “This is step one in what our future holds.”

Supporting this is now an in-house digital experience team featuring developers, engineers, and a full suite of product creators, working in partnership with Fjord.

Scentre Group’s IT team has also had an overhaul, with a new head of technology, ex-Disney executive, Richard Webby, installed in March across a more integrated technology function. McAveety said he’s already fostering a strong link with his IT executive counterpart, and the pair are working together to realise how technology can improve experiences for customers.

Customer intelligence

Customer insights are another area getting a boost. In the last 12 months, the group has put in a proprietary system it calls a ‘customer experience loop’, that includes all solicited and unsolicited feedback including social. This real-time data and commentary is allowing the team to identify customer problems that it can try and solve in real time, McAveety said.

Scentre Group is in the early stages of building out its customer data platform. This could potentially bring in the data the group has been collecting through the rollout of Wi-Fi across its properties, for example.

“We are looking at more effectively using data that we have that customers want us to have, to be able to customise content delivered to them not just through the platforms but through e-communications and marketing communications,” McAveety said.

On the side, Scentre Group has been testing a parking rewards program in one centre with a beta group, another potential area of opportunity and part of improving the parking experience for customers, he said.

For McAveety, having marketing, insights, operations and digital together in one unit is vital to achieving wholesale change. Prior to joining Scentre Group, he was chief brand officer for Starwood Hotels, where technology and experience were closely aligned.

“It was interesting to me when I came in that we still had a marketing department. I spent eight years leading Starwood brand worldwide, and prior to that, was with Nike, and I hadn’t worked in a department called a ‘marketing’ department for two decades,” he commented. “You were either brand or customer experience. Marketing frankly felt transactional as opposed to thinking about the broader experiences. That’s how I’m used to working and it’s how we have evolved this organisation over the last 18 months.”

Defining what the brand means in A/NZ given Scentre Group is a different entity to Westfield Corporation was a vital pillar in the thinking behind what’s going on now, McAveety added.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu    

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