Innovative retail concept combines offline and online at the mall


(Author : Marianne Wilson)
Off-price retailer Century 21 will make its West Coast debut in a most unusual way — taking over a high-tech, high-touch “smart” store for six weeks.

WithMe, an interactive store format that features limited runs of traditional and pure-play retail brands, will open its first in-line mall location on May 26, a nearly 8,000-sq.-ft., two-level futuristic-looking flagship, at Macerich’s Santa Monica Place, Santa Monica, California. Its first outing will be taken over by Century 21, which has curated an exclusive merchandise mix for the contemporary, relaxed Southern California lifestyle.  When Century 21 finishes its six-week run, a new brand will take its place in the WithMe space.
The Santa Monica store will feature WithMe’s signature technology, including an immersive, floor-to-ceiling smart display, called the “Pixel Wall,” crafted from 900 individual screens that move independently to form shelves and hanging racks. Glass-top digital displays and interactive fixtures will offer product highlights and video content about brands. A virtual reality showcase and a large social media wall, will help keep shoppers engaged. Utilizing a table, guests can shop an “endless aisle” and scan items to find more options, request items to try on, build a cart and check out.
“With its incredible technology that creates personalized, online and offline shopping experiences, plus an ever-changing array of brand activations, WithMe will be a signature draw for our mall shoppers,” said Eric Salo, executive VP and chief strategy officer, Macerich.
The fitting rooms are also cutting edge, with interactive mirror displays that allow customers to make purchases or request alternate products without leaving their rooms. RFID tags on all products give shoppers ready information at their fingertips.
“We were looking to expand into premier shopping centers that consumers know and love, and where traditional and pure-play brands want to be, in the country’s best markets,” said Jonathan Jenkins, founder and CEO of WithMe. “All of this defines Macerich and its properties. We’re also tremendously excited to be working with a retail icon like Century 21 for our launch at Santa Monica Place. Our technology provides the perfect platform for this legendary brand to expand into new markets and create experiences their customers will love.”
WithMe at Santa Monica Place will offer customers several different modes of delivery. They can to take their merchandise with them at the time of purchase, or opt for same-day delivery to their homes, offices or hotels powered by Deliv. They can also choose to have the goods delivered to the location of their choice within two days.
Macerich and WithMe plan to expand the concept, in both large and small common-area formats, to other top-performing Macerich properties in the near future. WithMe currently is building modular common-area designs that range in size from 100 sq. ft. – 1,000 sq. ft. to accommodate a wide range of retail activations at Macerich centers in markets including New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago.