Westfield enters trial partnership with eBay

Following the unveiling of its new “searchable mall” last week, shopping centre giant Westfield Group (ASX: WDC) has announced that its subsidiary, Westfield Labs, is partnering up with online retailer eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) to trial “connected glass” digital shopping screens in its malls.

The group has launched three of these windows which, according to Westfield’s global chief digital officer Kevin McKenzie, are like big interactive iPads. Consumers can use these screens to make purchases; the order is pushed to their mobile phones, where they can make payment through eBay’s PayPal system.

According to The Australian Financial Review, the trial touch screens will offer a catalogue of around 100 products to begin with, from retailers including Sony, Rebecca Minkoff and Toms, and will be trialled until January 12 next year.

The trial comes as the group attempts to “define what the future of retail will look like through social, mobile and digital innovations.” Last week, it unveiled its new online mall, which offers over 100,000 products to consumers from various retailers. David Jones (ASX: DJS) and Country Road (ASX: CTY) are amongst the companies who have signed on for their products to be advertised, while Myer (ASX: MYR) will not participate.

As Westfield will earn a 10% commission for all products sold through its system from the retailer, Myer believes it will have a negative impact on earnings and that higher prices could be passed onto consumers.

Foolish takeaway

Whilst Westfield’s first attempt at online retailing wasn’t overly successful, it is pleasing to see it continue to innovate in order to deliver an ideal shopping experience. Together with the strengthening of its balance sheet by divesting from non-core assets, Westfield is setting itself up for a promising future and, with its shares currently priced at $10.58, represents an attractive buy.

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

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