By Aimee Chanthadavong

With The Westfield Group’s launch of its first online shopping mall last week, Datamonitor believes it is Westfield’s demonstration of its responsiveness to the online threat.

Anne Marie Davis, Datamonitor practice leader, told Retailbiz in order for retailers to sustain growth, it’s necessary for them to join the online market.

“With the growth in online shopping many retailers now have internet stores. All bricks and mortar retailers have to support this trend rather than fight against it and shopping operators are no different,” she said.

She also noted that, which will feature more than 100 retailers, will break down boundaries between online and physical retailing.

“Westfield's online shopping mall gives you the opportunity to shop across a number of different categories from clothing to electrical. This is particularly useful over the festive period when consumers will be shopping for a range of items. Unlike many other websites that pull together multiple brands it also offers you a consistent experience, the online merchandising is the same for all the products,” Davis said.

“Vitally, Westfield already has a strong and trusted brand name which gives greater confidence to those that are perhaps new to online shopping. Consumers are put off from buying online as they can't return items to the store and the website operator has no physical presence. If Westfield fully integrates its online and in-store services there is lots of potential for this new venture.”

As the site also includes retail brands that are not present in Westfield's shopping centers, it has the potential, to offer a platform for globalisation for retail brands, Davis said.

“If local retailers ensure that their online offering is as good as that of international brands then they won't necessarily to suffer at home. They too have an opportunity to step up in their operations and become part of the global online marketplace but to do this they will have to ensure that they are offering something unique and in this respect it might be a challenge for some brands,” she said.