Westfield is working with a number of its retail clients by encouraging them to share data to improve the customer experience, revealed Westfield's co-CEO Stephen Lowy.

Lowy described how the real estate company is gaining insights from shoppers and retailers using its Westfield Retail Solutions platform to create engaging shopping experiences in its centres around the world. But to take part, retailers need to overcome their fear of competition and stop working in data siloes.

When I spoke at NRF, that was the first time we spoke about sharing data,” recalled Lowy. “There were 4,000 people in the room and I think they thought I was nuts. But a year later it is common practice, we’re talking to our retailers to make a better customer experience.”

Back in 2016, Lowy said retailers are "beginning to realise their biggest threat isn’t one another, it’s the status quo”.

Speaking once again at Shoptalk Europe this week, Lowy explained how retailers have very little knowledge about their customers who shop in a store. But because of Westfield’s position as a real estate developer, renting thousands of retail store spaces in its centres across the world, it can become the overarching connection between consumer and brand.

“Now it is common practice that retailers who are predominantly physical in nature, need to figure out how to collaborate and share their data.”

Lowy said by sharing data, retailers can work together to improve the experience customers receive when they go shopping. He said customers don’t want to download an app – “they’ve got all the apps they want”.

He said customers want to instantly connect with brands on their terms.

“It requires retailers to be fast, open and collaborative,” he said. “And if that’s done in a high-quality, protected, technologically-advanced environment, then I think that’s a very exciting proposition.”

Westfield is already working with retailers on collaborating data sets, which has led to targeted advertising, as well as using proximity technology to locate customers and connect them physically with retailers.

“I’m not a technologist, I’m a real estate developer,” he added. “The business we’re in is the business of connecting consumers to retailers. And we must have a digital approach to that today. And if retailers are thinking about an app and a website, they’re thinking about yesterday’s technology.”