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Westfield and eBay Bring Online Shopping … to the Mall?

Will shoppers flock to the new digital storefronts in <strong>Westfield Centre</strong>?
Will shoppers flock to the new digital storefronts in Westfield Centre?

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Internet shopping is supposed to be about the finer things in life: Curling up in your pajamas with your laptop and a latte while testing your credit limit. But if you're longing to combine the convenience of online shopping with the hustle and bustle of a mall, Westfield San Francisco Centre and eBay have you covered: Until January 12, you can shop three new digital storefronts for Rebecca Minkoff, TOMS, and Sony on the fourth level of the mall near Bloomingdales.

You may already be familiar with the concept, which was popularized by Kate Spade Saturdays digital shopping windows in New York. Shoppers select their items from a giant touchscreen, and then choose how they want to complete the transaction. Option 1: Enter a mobile number and receive a text message with instructions to finish the sale. Option 2: Request a customized URL to seal the deal. Customers receive their purchases via overnight delivery. (Sony buyers have the additional option to pick up their items at the Sony Gallery in the mall, according to TechCrunch.)

The process is easy and discreet—no entering your credit card number on a giant public screen for all the world to see—but we question whether shoppers will go to the mall to shop online.

The Kate Spade Saturday digital storefronts in New York were a splashy way to introduce a new line to customers. At the time, the products were only available online, and the digital storefronts served as placeholders for brick and mortar stores that would open later. The San Francisco storefronts don't offer the same novelty. All three digital shopping brands at Westfield Centre were already available in San Francisco. Bloomingdales, which is only a few feet away from the Rebecca Minkoff digital storefront, has robust Rebecca Minkoff offerings. Best Buy and Target both sell Sony products, (and you can test drive your electronics in their stores). There are 17 retailers in San Francisco (including Nordstrom in Westfield Centre) that carry TOMS. And unlike the Kate Spade experiment, there's no indication that these brands plan to replace the digital stores with stand alone boutiques.

All three windows are fresh and pretty and free of the crowds that plague most stores during holiday shopping, but we doubt that's enough to entice shoppers to trade tablets at home for digital storefronts at the mall.
· eBay Inc. and Westfield Partner with Rebecca Minkoff, Sony, and TOMS for Digital Storefronts [eBay Blog]
· Kate Spade Saturday Launching Giant Touch Screen Storefronts [Racked]