Westfield Stays Ahead of the Curve with Heroku

Shopping center company builds rich mobile experiences for their iconic retail destinations

If you have been to a mall in the San Francisco Bay Area, you have likely been to a Westfield-owned shopping center. Westfield has thrived for over 54 years in the property management real estate business, operating about 87 shopping centers globally. Part of their long history of success comes from recognizing what visitors want and expect from their shopping experience is always changing and evolving, and Westfield strives to stay ahead of the curve.

In an effort to be innovative, agile and globally unified, especially with regards to digital experiences, they formed Westfield Labs, a global digital lab focused on innovating the retail ecosystem by leveraging the social, mobile and digital market opportunities that converge the digital shopper with the physical world.

The Challenge: Staying Competitive in a Customer-Centric World

Westfield knew that in order to stay competitive in the retail space, they would need to find innovative ways to bring consumers into their retail shopping centers. Westfield Labs was tasked with solving the problem, and set about creating the right team and innovative strategy for digital engagement across multiple channels.

Prior to establishing Westfield Labs, Westfield hosted their digital assets internally. With their new mission, they turned to a Platform as a Service (PaaS) solution for scale and efficiency, and to minimize infrastructure support and operations overhead so they could focus on innovation.

The Solution: A Portfolio of Apps to Entice and Engage Consumers

Westfield Labs partnered with Trineo, a Heroku Gold Partner with presence in the USA, Australia and New Zealand, to deliver their wider initiatives involving Heroku. They started with a set of smaller apps, proofs of concept for Heroku and Heroku Postgres, in order to test performance and flexibility. The experiment was a success and the team began migrating its entire application portfolio to the Heroku platform with 20 different apps that will be deployed on Heroku by the end of 2014.

Heroku gives us the ability to seamlessly and reliably deploy several times in one day, something that took cooperation, effort and maintenance in the previous infrastructure. We are putting the efficiency gained back into our core product. Thiago Figueiro, Vice President, Engineering & Production Operations, Westfield Labs

The portfolio of apps allow all Westfield malls to have interfaces that enable visitors to find what they want quickly (shops and eateries in the mall, hours of operation, location, etc.) and will be integrated with retailer data, such as available products, deals and featured merchandise.

Westfield Labs also developed an innovative mobile app that is currently available in the U.S. market. The Westfield U.S. mobile app leverages the unified global content from the global publishing platform, analytics, new contemporary design and user experience. As with the consumer website, the first phase of the new mobile app allows shoppers to find store information, see promotions and events, and be able to navigate Westfield centers easily with the new turn-by-turn audio wayfinding functionality.

Heroku gives Westfield the ability to deliver a portfolio of rich customer experience applications in support of new and existing mall locations across their entire physical platform and customer base, faster than they ever could before. Now their applications and supporting teams can deliver at the speed of their business. More importantly, they can provide added value to their customers, well before they walk through the doors of a Westfield property.

We chose Heroku because they enable our development team to focus on new innovations. The platform gives the ability to move quickly by pushing app improvements fast — in a secure environment! Thiago Figueiro, Vice President, Engineering & Production Operations, Westfield Labs

App Experience: Stunning User Interface with Powerful Functionality

When you open the Westfield U.S. app, you are taken to a Pinterest-like photo layout to choose your store. No detail is overlooked when it comes to the UI of the mobile app. Westfield Labs has added beautiful transitions, overlays and useful tool tips to navigate the app. You can look for shops by directory listing or by browsing a cool interactive mall map complete with animations, and touch controls like pinch and zoom, rotate and tap to get more info. Search will automatically bring up the store listings as you type. When you select the store name from the search results, the app quickly zooms in to the correct location on the map and can provide walking directions. You can find hours of operation, local events, current deals and useful details like the current weather at each mall. The app is so visually stunning and easy to use, users will surely be coming back again and again.

Is your company in a brick and mortar space but seeking an innovative apps and digital experience strategy? Westfield Labs is a great example of a company finding new ways to engage their customers using their suite of mobile and web apps. For more information, contact Heroku today.