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Fashion Index: An innovation that blends digital and real-world retail’

Read our fashion index page to get a barometer of trade in the UK. 

Dan Coen, director of corporate advisory firm Zolfo Cooper

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The Westfield London shopping centre and digital start-up company Snap Fashion have come together to create an innovative new app called #editme. Using this app, consumers simply need to upload a photo of themselves from Facebook - or take a picture of an outfit in a magazine - and then the app will suggest three outfits they might like, all of which are available to buy from stores within Westfield London. The app, which is non-transactional, will also enable fashionistas to create Pinterest-style boards of items they like, and then share them with friends via Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Through #editme, Westfield will also be able to suggest clothes and accessories that reflect the most current fashion trends in the UK and the ‘style of the moment’. Myf Ryan, marketing director of Westfield UK and Europe, has said #editme will therefore act as a style inspiration hub. What’s more, by giving consumers the ability to look through all of the fashion that Westfield London offers in one place, shoppers will be able to save lots of time.

For Westfield, this app represents a forward-thinking and creative approach. With the rise of online shopping, commercial landlords can no longer rest on their laurels and simply expect retailers to fill their large shopping centres. With vast amounts of retail space remaining unoccupied in UK malls, Westfield has clearly recognised that it needs to be more than just a property owner and actually has a responsibility to its tenants to drive footfall to its shopping centres.

Given the meteoric rise of ecommerce, it would be very easy to predict the demise of shopping centres because of the convenience of the internet. However, this latest app successfully brings together digital innovation with bricks-and-mortar retail to create a more tailored shopping experience for the consumer.

Westfield London has also been able to build its own brand by creating this app in partnership with Snap Fashion, as the app will help to promote the shopping centre as a desirable destination in its own right rather than focusing on any individual stores. As a result, Westfield is probably hoping shoppers will be attracted by the unique experience it can offer through #editme, in addition to the specific retailers that are based there.

It is very refreshing to see a shopping centre becoming a worthwhile destination through this kind of clever innovation, rather than using other means such as cinemas, bowling alleys and ice skating rinks to bring consumers in. This app makes the shopping ‘experience’ all about the shopping, and will ultimately benefit both consumers and retailers alike. As a result, it could be that #editme is able to provide shoppers with the perfect middle ground between digital and real-world retail.

 

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The Experian FootFall National Retail Index is reporting an improvement of +3.1% year on year. Comparing this Easter weekend with Easter last year, a -13.7% decline in performance year on year is being reported, perhaps because of a combination of disappointing weather and relative distance to payday compared with Easter last year. The year-to-date trend has improved this week and is now reporting at +0.1%. This continues to report better performance compared with last year, where this week it had declined further and was reporting at -4.6%.

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Overall, the index ended the week up 4.34%. The driving factors behind the strong results were the combination of the return to good weather, which helped encourage shoppers onto the high street, and the weak comparable figures from last year. For more information, email Don Williams at don.williams@bdo.co.uk

 

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