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Westfield in partnership with Uber

BY Al Urbanski

Westfield’s billion-dollar renovation of its Century City Mall in Los Angeles will include a swanky Uber Lounge where customers can wait in style for their rides.

The shopping center owner has formed a partnership with Uber to facilitate use of shared rides at its centers nationwide. The mall owner will create drop-off and pick-up stations at every one of its U.S. properties, whose locations will be digitally mapped into the Uber app. The idea: make pick-ups and drop-offs easier and build mall traffic.

The deal includes the introduction of Westfield's first permanent Uber Lounge, which will be located at Westfield Century City in Los Angeles. The center is undergoing a $1 billion renovation to debut this fall. Westfield Century City's Uber Lounge will feature ultra-modern design, sleek seating, and customer amenities to let customers “wait for their Uber in style,” according to a company press release.

Moving forward, Westfield centers will host between one and ten Uber stations – each with prominent visibility, accessibility, and signage – similar to dedicated taxi stands or ridesharing pick-up points at entertainment and transportation venues. At some of the Westfield destinations, the Uber stations will also include kiosks with customer service representatives and "brand ambassadors trained to engage with customers and facilitate their Uber experience," the company said.

“Westfield’s shopping centers already have…digital enhancements such as product search, directional, and frictionless parking,” said Westfield COO William Hecht. The Uber deal, he added, “makes it more convenient than ever to travel to and from any Westfield destination.”

The service is not new to L.A. Caruso has for some time had a permanent Uber pick-up/drop-off location at The Grove. Last year it was the Uber’s busiest spot in the city with more than 2,000 drop-offs daily.

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Walmart pledges up to $20 million in hurricane relief

BY Marianne Wilson

Walmart is significantly expanding its Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.

Walmart and the Walmart Foundation announced they have committed up to $20 million in support of relief efforts in response to the severe weather impacting the Gulf region. This is an increase from the retailer's previously announced $1 million of in-kind donations for immediate relief.

Walmart operates nearly 600 namesake and Sam's Clubs stores in Texas. The chain's new commitment includes $10 million to help support of American Red Cross shelters and $2 million in support of the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund at the Greater Houston Community Foundation.

In addition, Walmart said it would match customer donations two to one with cash and product donations of up to $10 million to assist the Red Cross with Hurricane Harvey relief. Walmart’s initial focus will be on mega-shelters, providing items to meet basic needs, such as water, infant formula, diapers, underwear and personal hygiene products. It also hopes to increase comfort in the shelters by providing items such as TVs, DVDs, games and stuffed animals for children and healthy snacks.

Walmart and the Walmart Foundation will also give additional cash and product donations totaling $10 million to support the Salvation Army, Feeding America, Convoy of Hope, Team Rubicon and the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund at the Greater Houston Community Foundation, as well as other organizations assisting food distribution, sheltering and cleanup efforts.

Walmart has been heavily involved in Hurricane Harvey relief efforts to date. It has shipped more than 1,060 truckloads to the impacted areas, including over 930 truckloads of water; opened a mobile pharmacy in the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, with another pharmacy being sent to Houston to provide prescription-related counseling at no cost to evacuees; and provided matter experts in logistics and emergency management to assist local emergency operations centers and with establishing local shelters.

In addition, local Walmart stores in the Gulf region have provided food, merchandise and other supplies, such as baby formula, batteries and kayaks to first responders, the National Guard, police and fire departments, churches and shelter organizations.

“Our Texas family of customers and associates are experiencing devastating impact from this storm,” said Doug McMillon, President and CEO of Walmart. “We are on the ground to help our friends and neighbors in the Gulf region, and we’ll continue to be in the tough days, weeks, and months ahead.”

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REAL ESTATE

Online home brand opens first store at Short Hills

BY Al Urbanski

Boll & Branch, until now an online-only seller of towels and linens, has opened its first brick-and-mortar location at the Short Hills Mall in New Jersey.

Claiming to sell the “World’s Most Comfortable Sheets,” Boll & Branch also offers towels and will inhabit a 2,137-sq.-ft. shop at the high-end, suburban mall known as one of the few to house Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s, and Macy’s under one roof.

“We’re thrilled to open our first-ever retail location at The Mall at Short Hills, right in our home state of New Jersey," said Scott Tannen, co-founder and CEO of Boll & Branch.

Mon Purse has also opened its first stand-alone store in the U.S. at the mall, a 2,392-sq.-ft. pop-up that will sell customizable European leather handbags and accessories.

Two other first-to-market stores opened at Short Hills recently: The Juice Shop Kitchen & Juicery and Calzedonia, a seller of hosiery and swimwear.


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