Westfield hires digital guru for tech push

Summary:Retail giant Westfield Group has created a new role of chief digital officer to develop the company's online strategy for its shopping centres worldwide.

Retail giant Westfield Group has created a new role of chief digital officer to develop the company's online strategy for its shopping centres worldwide.

Westfield Sydney

Westfield Sydney sits at the base of the iconic Sydney Tower.
(Westfield image by Jeremy Keith, CC2.0)

Westfield has appointed Kevin McKenzie, the US-based founder of JiWire, a Wi-Fi hotspot company with 40,000 locations across the United States, serving 50 million users per month, in the new digital role.

McKenzie will report to co-CEO Steven Lowy, and will begin the role next month, based in San Francisco. Lowy said in a statement that McKenzie's appointment is part of an effort by Westfield to integrate the group's 111 retail centres across the globe with the online world.

"We offer public Wi-Fi in many of our shopping centres to make it easy for the consumer to connect their smartphone and tablets for fast connectivity while they are on the go," he said.

"We have already had success in integrating technology in all sorts of ways, including sophisticated car-park guidance systems and the use of social media."

McKenzie said that Westfield could capitalise on shoppers using their mobile devices in-store through offering better digital services.

Prior to founding JiWire, McKenzie was the senior vice president for shopping services for CNET Networks back in 2003. ZDNet Australia's parent company CNET Networks was bought out by CBS in 2008 to become CBS Interactive.

Westfield has been pushing its online strategy for a number of months, with the company implementing a Groupon-powered portal on the Westfield website in February this year. The company recruited retailers, including Hoyts, Escape Travel, Boost Juice, Salsa's Fresh Mex, Ed Harry, Ella Rouge Beauty, Queenspark, Hairhouse Warehouse, the Westfield Stylist and Napoleon Perdis, to offer group-buying deals for the website and Westfield's mobile app.

Topics: IT Employment, E-Commerce

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Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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