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Westfield creates virtual mall

Westfield Group (ASX: WDC) has completely revamped its website to what is now being called a “searchable mall”, which gives customers access to more than 100,000 products online from its various stores.

As reported by The Australian Financial Review, the digital business that was unveiled on Tuesday morning took more than six months to develop by its United States-based digital entity, Westfield Labs, in what is just the first stage of what will be a global rollout. John Batistich, the company’s marketing director, described it as changing Westfield from an e-commerce site to an online destination.

Whilst it is free for retailers to sign up to have the new site link to their products, Westfield will earn a commission – said to be around 10% – for every product sold if the customer is first redirected from their site.

Retailers including Cotton On, Country Road (ASX: CTY), David Jones (ASX: DJS) and many others have already signed up, whilst Batistich stated that Myer (ASX: MYR) will follow suite early next year. He said “Nobody will be able to aggregate all of those brands in fashion and beauty anywhere on the planet.”

The move is a “bold step” by Westfield to take a more “holistic approach” to retail, which will provide consumers with a much more convenient way of shopping. Considering the rapid rise of the online retail sector and the damage it is causing to the brick-and-mortar retail industry, the move should help to bolster Westfield’s earnings moving forward as it gains more exposure to online shoppers.

Foolish takeaway

Westfield is one of Australia’s largest companies, but unlike most other blue chips, has failed to deliver shareholders with good returns over the last 12 months. Although there are certainly hurdles that the company must overcome, it is focused on strengthening its global position to ensure long-term sustainability. With shares falling a further 1.7% to $10.60 this morning, now could be a perfect opportunity to add Westfield to your portfolio.

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Motley Fool contributor Ryan Newman does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned.

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