Westfield Labs is the digital innovation arm of Westfield Group, one of the world’s largest operators of shopping malls. While the main company focuses on making the most out of its vast real estate portfolio across Australia, United States, United Kingdom, and Ireland, Westfield Labs functions like a skunkworks, exploring new ways to drive digital transformation in what has always been a very staid business model.
In order to identify viable digital concepts that can positively augment the in-store shopping experience, Westfield Labs had to trial a range of new ideas in quick time. By doing so, Westfield Labs hoped to uncover new areas with significant cross-selling, up-selling potential. However, this exercise required the support of an extended engineering team that could both work closely with in-house staff as well as with a degree of independence and ownership.
Rapid trials, rapid results
For several months, Westfield Labs collaborated with various teams at Calcey to develop multiple digital products. Some of these, such as a complex Wi-Fi portal to manage Wi-Fi networks across multiple malls, directly addressed pre-identified needs and benefited from a user base that was eager to embrace them. In the case of the Wi-Fi portal, our teams ensured that despite having a unified backend covering the entire Westfield mall network, landing pages and on-site advertisements could change dynamically based on the location of the mall from which the user tries to connect. Other projects involved developing MVPs of new ideas which Westfield Labs wished to try out. Among them was a mobile app that could be used by shoppers to pre-order food from vendors located within a given mall. The app allowed shoppers to browse through all available restaurant menus and order ahead of time thus avoiding the long, snaking lines in the food courts.
In addition, our quality assurance (QA) teams were roped in to help automate Westfield’s regression test suite which up until that point, was very time consuming and tedious to use. After carrying out exploratory manual tests, our QA team harnessed tools such as Cucumber, Selenium Webdriver, and Jenkins to deliver an automated and well integrated test suite.
Freedom through flexibility
Working with us allowed Westfield Labs to rapidly scale up their engineering resource pool, in turn making it possible to execute and test multiple ideas in quick succession. The insights gained from these experiments made it possible for Westfield as a company to fine tune their digital transformation strategy and deliver a better ROI on subsequent investments—all thanks to the inherent flexibility of their remote extended team from Calcey.