Game of Phones, 3 Retailers Using Mobile Right

3 Retailers Changing the Game of Mobile Now

Is mobile the future of retail? Yes, but It’s also the norm right now. People seem glued to their smartphones 24/7. And everyone from the local credit union to the leading fashion brand is attempting to utilize mobile technology to communicate to its audience.

Mobile may have made it easy for brands to directly and personally speak with customers, however, its popularity has inundated shoppers with content and advertising. This means it’s becoming even more difficult for retailers stand out.

Some retail brands have found exciting ways to move beyond the noise. These retailers are currently using mobile technology to develop unique experiences, create digital and online brand consistency, make meaningful customer connections, and drive traffic to their brick-and-mortar stores. So who are they and how are they doing it?

Macy’s Sends a Signal

Macy’s has been leveraging beacon technology since 2013. Testing it in its New York and San Francisco markets, before rolling it out to its full line of stores the following year. When an opted-in customer walks into a Macy’s store, they receive product recommendations and discounts tailored just for them, straight to their phone.

Macy’s upped its beacon technology ante during the 2015 holiday season with the Macy’s Black Friday Walk In and Win game. Customers who downloaded the Macy’s app were eligible to win instant prizes as they shopped in store on Black Friday and throughout the weekend.

Beacon technology is one way Macy’s has been in the forefront of mobile strategy. Macy’s continues to bridge the gap between its channels, entice shoppers into its stores, and provide its customers with an enticing, unique and personalized experience.

Best Buy Scans for Opportunity

Customers already use their mobile devices to research product information and prices throughout their shopping journeys, so Best Buy made it even easier with scan technology on its app.

While browsing a Best Buy store, customers can use their phones to scan products to learn more information and create shopping wish lists. Couples can even create and keep track of a wedding registry. They can scan the products they want, like a GoPro, a faster laptop, or a new washer and dryer – it all gets added to the gift list.

Best Buy recognized a popular shopping behavior and quickly adopted it. With its mobile app, Best Buy makes the customer’s path to purchase easier, the shopping experience more fun and engaging, and its retail channels unified.

Starbucks Orders Out

Starbucks has always been a leader in innovation, turning coffee into an experience.

Today, the customer experience is even more important than ever. Digital technology has empowered customers, giving them unlimited access to information anytime, anywhere. This power has led to higher standards and expectations. Who wants to waste time waiting in line for an Iced Caramel Macchiato? The Starbucks app enables customers to order and pay for their favorite drink or food ahead of time, so it’s fresh and ready to go as soon as they step through the doors.

Starbucks embraced the democratization of retail and responded to the new, pickier always-connected customer’s expectations. Through its app, Starbucks gives customers exactly what they want immediately, makes digital transactions easy, and in turn, provides an even better customer experience.

Mobile has already changed the retail playing field by providing shoppers with instant access to information and shopping options. It is crucial that retailers embrace shoppers’ reliance on mobile technology, and develop a seamless brand experience between digital and brick-and-mortar channels.

Mobile’s role will only continue to grow and become even more competitive. While this is a huge challenge, especially for retailers going up against competitors who seem to be ahead of the game, it is also an extraordinary opportunity. In this constantly changing industry, there is always room to improve strategy and optimize retail experience. By embracing new technology as it launches, retailers can find innovative ways to create unique experiences, form meaningful connections and gain repeat purchases.

An Infographic: Mother’s Day vs. Father’s Day Spending

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are right around the corner. Together, they represent the first big retail opportunities on this year’s retail calendar. Yet each shares certain distinctions that, if addressed separately, will increase store profits and help retailers get the most out of the season.

Firefly Store Solutions created an infographic in order to highlight some interesting facts and distinctions between spending habits for each. We hope that this will assist in recognizing these distinctions and preparing for each holiday in such a way as to sell more merchandise and boost your bottom line.

Infographic: Mother’s Day vs. Father’s Day

Infographic by Firefly Store Solutions, the source for all your store’s display and store solutions.

showrooming-retail-store

How to embrace showrooming during the holidays

Showrooming quickly became a Voldermort-like word, one which should never be uttered around brick-and-mortar retailers. According to Retail Customer Experience, the practice of going into a retail store to look at products and then search for them online or on mobile at a later date is becoming a reality, and retailers like Best Buy are embracing the practice rather than combat it.

showrooming-retail-store

From the article:

For many retailers, the fear of showrooming is based primarily on price competition — and for good reason. Consumers care about price and use mobile technologies to search for the best deal. In fact, some consumers have even demonstrated their willingness to purchase holiday merchandise from an online competitor while they are interacting with the product in a brick-and-mortar retail store.

But what Best Buy and a handful of other retailers have come to understand is that not all retail products are commoditized. Although price matters, it isn’t the only dimension consumers look for in an exceptional holiday shopping experience. And in many cases, the price advantage online retailers have enjoyed can be neutralized through other in-store strategies.

With that in mind, there are a few strategies that brick-and-mortar retailers can use this holiday season to embrace showrooming and convert it into retail success:

Showrooming as a negative concept is grounded on the notion that online-only retailers can beat their brick and mortar counterparts by cutting costs of distribution and sending this value on to their customers. However, it overlooks the obvious fact that most buyers in the majority of retail categories continue to need the “intimacy” of trying something on or having tactile interaction to see how it works for them, never mind still often enjoying the shopping experience itself. By leveraging physical store space to offer enhanced multichannel shopping opportunities, retailers can capture business from online competitors. When done well, omnichannel integration combines online, social, mobile and in-store resources to deliver an experience that far surpasses the experiences offered by online competitors.

best-buy-black-friday

Can Best Buy serve as a model for struggling retailers?

Best Buy’s well-documented decline two years ago, and subsequent rise from the ashes over the past 12 months, is shaping up to stand as a model for other retailers that find themselves in freefall.

best-buy-black-friday

According to a recent Forbes article, Best Buy’s stock is up 250% from a year earlier and took a commanding lead coming out of Black Friday. So what’s in their secret sauce that has given them a second chance?

From the article:

Best Buy’s comeback is a beacon of hope for other struggling retailer’s, but very few will enjoy the same fate.

For everything that was going wrong inside of Best Buy’s stores, the market environment outside has been exceedingly friendly in 2013. Retail and consumer IPOs have been hot, stocks at large are enjoying their best year in over a decade and even issues like a government shutdown this fall did nothing to derail the rally.

All that helps explain why Best Buy has tripled even though it is still grappling with the challenges of a retail turnaround. While 2014 may be another winning year for equities, few expect it to be as explosive, which will be a hurdle for any retail stock looking to repeat Best Buy’s trash to treasure revival.

JC Penney may have looked like a tempting possibility after the department store chain touted a 10.1% increase in same-store sales for November. Though the increase was likely thanks to hefty discounting, positive comps is a critical element in buying the retailer time as it moves on from Ron Johnson’s failed effort to remake its image.

A brief rally was cut short though, and the news since has not been good. Hayman Capital’s Kyle Bass told Bloomberg his hedge fund has fully exited its stake and the company also revealed a SEC inquiry into its September capital raise, which came shortly after CEO Mike Ullman dismissed talk of the need for more capital.

The challenge in betting that retailers are doomed is that they tend to go bankrupt very slowly, then all at once. So a key component to the recipe for a big comeback is liquidity. JC Penney may be in decent shape thanks to the September capital raise, but even positive comps from a poor 2012 holiday season might not be enough to change the mood around the chain.

Best Buy interior, retail turnaround, shopper marketing

Best Buy Turnaround. Is it working?

With their best quarterly results in two years, Best Buy appears to be on the mend. According the Businessweek, it appears as if people are not entirely through buying TV’s and other electronics in a brick-and-mortar store.

Best Buy interior, retail turnaround, shopper marketing

From the article:

Best Buy, at least, seems to have put to rest immediate concerns about its demise. Chief Executive Officer Hubert Joly, who marked his first anniversary at the helm this month, has already managed to cut annualized costs by $390 million and steer the company on a broad restructuring path dubbed “Renew Blue,” which seeks $725 million in total savings. The former McKinsey & Co. management consultant is known as a corporate turnaround specialist, and he was hired specifically to address Best Buy’s many woes.

Chief among the problems: high prices. By routinely losing the price competition with rivals, particularly online retailers, Best Buy only exacerbated the phenomenon of showrooming, in which consumers use a physical store to peruse products they later purchase from a lower-priced website such as Amazon.com (AMZN). In the age of the smartphone, the problem has hardly been limited to electronics, yet Best Buy was particularly vulnerable as a result of prices that for many years have been more expensive than those most of its online competitors charge for identical products.

In February, the company said it was making permanent a holiday season trial program that promises to match the prices of 19 online competitors, as well as local stores. The price-match effort also offers a rebate to shoppers if Best Buy lowers its price on an item within 15 days of purchase. Beyond that program, the retailer is working to get prices more in line with rivals’ “to eliminate price as an obstacle to buying,” as Joly said on a Tuesday conference call with analysts. But that doesn’t mean Best Buy will undercut anyone. “We love the traffic on our site, in our stores, and we don’t want to lose a customer because of price. But we don’t feel that we need to be lower than (the) competition,” he said. “We just don’t want to be beat.”

Best Buy turnaround, shopper marketing

Best Buy is Back

After a slew of less-than-optimal earnings reports and dismal sales, Best Buy was all but dead to investors a year ago. Their main issue, they were being undercut in every regard by ecommerce sites offering more products at a lower price than even Best Buy could, according to an article in TIME.

Best Buy turnaround, shopper marketing

Now, a year later, Best Buy seems poised to make a comeback, spurred by new CEO Hubert Joly’s turnaround plan announced last winter.

From the article:

Credit Suisse retail analyst Gary Balter maintains that Best Buy is turning its massive store base — until very recently viewed as a liability — into one of its biggest strengths. The first step is to move away from the “bigger is always better” philosophy that has long dominated the retail industry. Best Buy is closing many of its locations and moving into smaller spaces with a more focused selection of products.

Joly is also leveraging his store space through partnerships with Samsung and Microsoft to create “stores within a store” across the country. Under these agreements, Samsung and Microsoft rent out space within a Best Buy to prominently feature their most popular products. The strategy should improve profitability not just through rent receipts, but also by driving sales of products elsewhere in the store.

Best Buy is also beginning to leverage its more than 1,000 locations by increasingly shipping merchandise from stores to online customers. This strategy can improve chances that an online customer will find an item in stock, and allow stores to sell returned items to online customers, two outcomes that should help the firm improve its profit margins.

Finally, Best Buy is investing in improvements to its Web business more broadly, with the hope of making its website more user-friendly and improving search functionality. Best Buy’s website receives more than a billion visitors per year, but only 1.3% of those end up purchasing a product. Balter explains that if these investments bring that conversion rate up just one percentage point, it would mean roughly $250 million more per year in operating income.

Nintendo Best Buy bring E3 games to stores, visual merchandising

Nintendo and Best Buy to bring E3 games to stores

Traditionally, E3 plays host to a multitude of games that can only be played during the event, not any more. For a few days, consumers will be able to play certain Nintendo titles in over 100 Best Buy stores nationwide. According to CNET the list of games will is not available but Best Buy’s website lists the stores where you can play them.

Nintendo Best Buy bring E3 games to stores, visual merchandising

From the article:

Nintendo’s move is an interesting one. Historically, E3 is where game makers allow industry insiders to try out titles before they’re made ready for public launch. Nintendo is trying to change that dynamic by bringing some of its games to the public for a couple of days to bring them in on the E3 action. Hardcore gamers who follow E3 will probably like that quite a bit.

Nintendo has released the full list of Best Buy locations where the games will be played. Click here to see if a store in your city will be carrying its titles.

Samsung Experience, Best Buy, Retail Localization

Samsung Experience Shop Opens in NYC Best Buy

With nearly 1,400 store-within-a-store concepts slated to be opened by early June, the Samsung Experience store opened this week in the Union Square Best Buy this week. This store represents one of close to 900 such stores to open between now and May, according to PC Mag.

Samsung Experience, Best Buy, Retail Localization

From the article:

“This opening of the Samsung Experience Shop at Best Buy is a key illustration of the Best Buy Renew Blue strategy,” CEO Hubert Joly said at today’s event. “This is a very meaningful development from the customer standpoint. It is an opportunity to touch, feel, and learn about great products and how they work together.”

Joly addressed the crowd from a large and prominent corner of the store that has been transformed into a Samsung-only area where the South Korean manufacturer can showcase its lineup of phones, tablets, laptops, and accessories.

The partnership began about five months ago, when Joly met with Samsung CEO JK Shin to discuss a future together.

“Best Buy wanted to truly showcase the world’s most popular products, and Samsung wanted a partner that could deliver an inviting customer experience in every corner of the United States,” Shin said Wednesday. The new Samsung Experience Shop offers what he called a “unique opportunity, providing customers place to explore, purchase, activate, and service.”

best-buy-electronics-shopper-marketing

Is a new generation of electronics the key to Best Buy’s turnaround?

Electric vehicles and solar power might be the keys to Best Buy’s longevity, according to an article on Motley Fool. Both online and physical retail stores have been chewing away at their market-share for years now, for Best Buy to remain a major player they will need to find new niches in electronics.

best-buy-electronics-shopper-marketing

From the article:

Best Buy has gradually been moving into the service business for years. Go to the company’s website and you can see services for home theaters, computers, car GPS, gaming, and many others. Geek Squad has become a do-it-all electronics arm for the company to sell electronics to consumers.

If you’re buying a large home theater system or need some computer help, this is a valuable servicem and it’s one of the reasons Best Buy can compete with Amazon.com, Target, and Wal-Mart. But this may just be the start for Best Buy.

The company recently announced a deal with Ford (NYSE: F ) to provide electric charging station sales, installation, and support. Ford’s dealers don’t want to become on-call electricians who go to your home and install a car charger, so Best Buy does it. The service side of the business is already there, so it’s a natural fit for Best Buy.

Amy Poehler, Best Buy, Super Bowl

Struggling Best Buy Uses Amy Poehler To Tout Turnaround

Millions of Americans make it a point to watch Amy Poehler when she’s on television. Now, there’s hope that she can help sell TVs, too.

Amy Poehler, Best Buy, Super Bowl

She starred last night in a fairly amusing Super Bowl ad for Best Buy. While still the world’s largest consumer-electronics retailer, struggling Best Buy needs all the buzz it can generate. New CEO Hubert Joly has acknowledged that it suffers from a image problem—too expensive, too irrelevant—and that competitors like Amazon.com and Walmart.com are beating it on the Web.

Best Buy is particularly limited by its massive real estate: more than a 1,000 stores from Europe to the lower 48. It allows the company to dominate psychical retailing, but those giant stores today are becoming more and more only a showroom for its Web rivals. How can it make up for that? Emphasize what Amazon.com or eBay can’t offer customers. Real, live humans. The blue-shirted staff in those stores. Granted, monochromatic uniforms can seem a forbidding omen for those handling advanced technology.

Yet, Poehler co-starred with one those low-wage grunts last night. Judging by her experience in the ad, you can assume that they’re all tall, handsome and really patient with stupid customers. (“What is LTE? Is it contagious?”)

It’s interesting that Best Buy decided to emphasize its staff. Not its smaller stores. Not its new focus on mobile phones and tablets. Not its price-match guarantee. A Super Bowl ad is no small investment, and it reaches an incredibly wide audience. Best Buy must’ve spent gobs of time—at least you’d hope they did—in crafting the ad’s message.

It works. And it makes sense. A well-trained staff is one of the only things that differentiates. It’s also why costs have been rising since Joly took command, even though most transitions begin with blood-letting and budget slashes.

[via Forbes]