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Westfield Taps Verishop To Bring Digital Stores To Its Physical Malls

Major retail landlord Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield has inked a deal with Verishop, an e-commerce platform, to open 14 pop-up or inline retail concepts at eight Westfield shopping centers in the United States.

The line between online and physical retail is increasingly blurry as new shops, or "digitally native vertical brands," open in malls. Among others, eyeglasses seller Warby Parker, shirt seller Untuckit and lingerie shop Adore Me — all with origins online — have opened physical stores in recent years.

The Westfield-Verishop partnership is among the latest examples of that trend, but not even the first for Westfield, since it opened holiday-themed areas called The Market at Westfield in November at three of its malls. They feature decorations and entertainment, but also a variety of digitally native vertical brands, or DNVBs.

In December, PREIT leased space to e-commerce supply chain company ShopFulfill to bring inventory from online retailers into physical stores. As part of that deal, Anchor Shops Powered by ShopFulfill will take a storefront at PREIT's new downtown mall, Fashion District Philadelphia.

Though it doesn't directly involve DNVBs, mall giant Simon Property Group also recently upped its game in online commerce. In October, Simon partnered with online shopping site Rue Gilt Groupe on a new e-commerce platform, the goal of which is to create a new destination for discount shopping online.

The Westfield-Verishop partners haven't disclosed how long the new stores will stay open, but they did say that flexibility is built into the deal, with Verishop retaining the option to roll out other DNVBs. 

The stores at the Westfield properties will be digitally native brands that Verishop has incubated: Ghost Democracy and Lett. They will become physical at Westfield Century City in Los Angeles, Westfield World Trade Center in New York, Westfield Garden State Plaza Paramus, New Jersey, and Westfield San Francisco Centre, among other properties.

The partners opened the first of the shops — a Ghost Democracy pop-up at Westfield Century City — in October as a test. The rest of the rollouts will continue into 2020.

Ghost Democracy specializes in its own brand of skincare products, while Lett sells leisurewear. Both brands were started by Verishop, which so far has raised $30M in funding, CNBC reports, citing an anonymous source.  

"The ability to create one-of-a-kind shops has enabled us to give shoppers an in-person experience to complement what we’ve built online,” Verishop CEO Imran Khan said in a statement.