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.

Web-only retailer Rue La La hires a chief merchandising officer

The Boston-based commerce retailer Rue La La announced last week that it hired Lisa Rhodes as president and chief merchandising officer. With over 30 years of retail experience; Lisa Rhodes was CEO of women’s apparel retail chain Dots, and was senior vice president of Wal-Mart. 

According to Internetretailer.com, in her new role at Rue La La, No. 81 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide and No. 11 in the Mobile 500 guide, Rhodes will handle merchandising for the brand’s offerings in fashion for men and women, as well as the company’s home category.

“This is an exciting time at Rue La La,” says Rhodes. “With its success in mobile commerce, an extensive network of brand partners and focus on engaging content, Rue La La is positioned to reach a new generation of consumer.”

Prior to joining Rue La La, Rhodes served as the CEO of Dots LLC, a now-closed women’s clothing retail chain. Rhodes as also served as the senior vice president of apparel at Wal-Mart U.S., where she grew the ladies, men’s, kids, intimates, shoes, and accessories businesses. She has also held positions at clothing chain Maurices, Marshalls and Macy’s Inc.

“Lisa brings a unique skill set of passion, strategic thinking, innovation and bottom-line business management that has proven to inspire and take businesses to the next level,” says Steve Davis, Rue La La’s CEO. “Her extensive experience as a merchant and retail leader will complement our team and further cement the company’s role as in innovative, groundbreaking e-retailer.”   

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Macy’s Put Stores Front and Center in Omnichannel

While Macy’s develops new strategies and processes to better market to Millennials and the changing tastes of their key demographics, one thing remains true for them, stores will always drive their omnichannel efforts.

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According to a recent Forbes article, Macy’s is developing teams of specialists to continue to change the retail experience to not only adapt to their customers’ tastes, but help predict and anticipate those shifts.

From the article:

Macy’s localization program is an important and effective in attracting a variety of customers. As part of this program, merchandise managers analyze the customer mix in each and every store and then ships goods tailored specifically in terms of style and sizing to each store. For example, Asian customers wear smaller sizes; Hispanic customers favor flamboyant colors; and the working woman favors black and white clothing. Localized merchandise programs can make sure each customer type finds the goods they like.

For internet shoppers, stores are still important and hold appeal for young customers who often shop the stores and then order on the web. Using omnichannel fulfillment that approach has been enhanced. Customers can now order on the Internet and have the option to pick up their orders in stores. A test late last year confirmed the viability of this initiative and it is now being rolled out to most stores.

Stores are, and will remain, important for creating a fashion image in the future. They are the anchor for serving the customer well via visible, attentive and enthusiastic associates. When this is the case, it makes shopping a pleasurable experience.

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The Proliferation of Technology is Expanding Omnichannel Further

Consumers do not walk into a store and say “I want a seamless omnichannel experience.” While they know that is what they want, they surely do not use the word “omnichannel” to describe it. Today’s consumers inherently know they want an experience across all different vehicles related to price, color, availability, and most importantly, the brand.

During day two of NRF’s Big Show, Bob Carpenter, President and CEO of GS1 US, started the breakout session he was moderating entitled Achieving Omnichannel Success with Standards-based Supply Chain Practices by stating that the single biggest capability retailers want to provide is a consistent view of the customer – sadly more than half cannot. Turning his attention to his panelists – Mike Molitar, SVP eCommerce at Kohl’s, Peter Longo, President, Macy’s Logistics and Standards, and Dan Smith, CIO, Hudson Bay Trading Company – they began to backtrack through the evolution of omnichannel in order to help define its future.

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Peter Longo spointed out that in the very beginning, retail existed primarily as a single channel – the brick and mortar store. Helped along by newspapers advertisements, the consumer had no other choice but to enter the retail store to see new collections and make their transactions. Along came the Internet and all of the sudden retailers were faced with a second major, yet separate, channel to market their products – multichannel.

According to Longo, “[retailers] developed a shadow or parallel organization within the enterprise that managed this new channel but it was not unified with the physical store.”

It was the consumer that forced the transition from a multichannel world to an omnichannel one. They began to reject these two separate disjointed retail experiences and demanded a consistent brand across all platforms. The advent of mobile was really the development that forced retailers’ hands as all of the sudden there were new forms of engagement they had to account for.

“We have to look at rethinking all of the parts to make them as alike as possible,” said Dan Smith. “They are not going to be happy if they are getting a bad experience in the store and a good one online.”

Successful retailers, according to Smith, are the ones that anticipate the consumer’s needs and react to them accurately. You need to think of the path to purchase system as one entire process that exists in-store, online, and mobile, but also the varying technologies such as point-of-sale that exist within them.

Coming more from a demand management perspective, Mike Molitar said it best: “I think about it more from a demand perspective and the term customer-centric retailing … the proliferation of devices makes it complicated.” According to Molitar, mobile devices are just the beginning, we now see wearables on the horizon and countless others to follow that we haven’t even thought of yet.

“Omnichannel is just the beginning,” said Molitar, “it might be device-specific elements that lead to the overall experience.”

Indeed it does appear that not only do retailers have to begin thinking across store, online, and mobile, but take into consideration the unique attributes of each device they are using the engage with your brand.

“There is a relentless focus on accuracy,” said Longo, “there is not a lot of room for error and loyalty can be cracked at any moment.”

Stores alone were never held to this type of rigor. The tech-savvy consumer expects to be able to purchase a product wherever and whenever they want it and the have an expectation that it will be available. Not only is availability a make or break factor, but speed will soon be as well. It might be that in the very near future next day delivery is too slow.

Retailers that take the time to listen to their customers and understand their needs will be well-positioned to create a consistent brand experience for them across every channel. Technology is forcing an evolution in the way retailers foster the brand experience leaving very little room for error in the process.

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Macy’s promotions and omni-channel strategy paying off

Macy’s third quarter report saw over a 30% rise in profits, which is good news considering the holiday shopping season will be shortened this year with a late Thanksgiving. This is owed in part to their positive execution of their omni-channel strategy and localized promotion tactics.

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According to the Los Angeles Times, CEO Terry Lundgren said they were entering Q4 “with confidence.”

From the article:

It’s a telling statement, considering that the holidays — which account for as much as 40% of a retailer’s annual sales — can cushion some companies for months afterward or render others investor pariahs.

This year the pressure is even heavier because retailers have only four weekends between the two holidays to push their merchandise, compared to five last year.

Macy’s, which also owns the Bloomingdale’s brand, said it intensified its marketing strategies in the third quarter and boosted its omnichannel efforts, helping shoppers move seamlessly from digital to brick-and-mortar consumption.

Same-store sales at units open at least a year rose 3.5%. Overall revenue jumped 3.3% to $6.3 billion.

The company maintained its projections from August, predicting that same-store sales would be up 2.5% to 4% in the second half of the year.

In afternoon trading in New York, Macy’s stock was up 9.6%, or $4.42, to $50.76 a share.

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Macy’s looks to hook Millennials early and keep them for life

Macy’s is aiming to be there for Millennials, every step of the way from college to marriage, and everything in between.

According to Stores, the retail chain is hoping to reel in the much sought after demographic early in their lives, perhaps during college, so that they come to Macy’s for everything from a suit for their first interview to their wedding registry.

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From the article:

Ivan Feinseth, chief investment officer for Tigress Financial Partners, sees nothing but the upside for reaching this demographic now. “The strategy to target that group as they start to become independent shoppers means hopefully they stay loyal shoppers,” he says. “It is a nice tie-in with Macy’s overall strategy.”

It’s given Macy’s a slight edge in the department store category, believes Jeff Fromm, executive vice president at ad agency Barkley and co-author of the book Marketing to Millennials: Reach the Largest and Most Influential Generation of Consumers Ever. Macy’s is “probably ahead of their peer group,” he says. “But they’re not limited to competing with just retail brands. They’ll have to go against the best in class. Not just best in class in retail, but better than Chipotle in the restaurant space, better than the Dollar Shave Club.

“The benchmark that they should strive to set is best in class, period,” he says. “I see a lot of positive things they’re doing. But it’s particularly hard to be a disrupter when you’re an iconic brand.”

Millennials “are the fastest-growing demographic in the States today,” Reardon says. “They have the largest buying power and they are the future. We’ve always been extremely interested in that younger consumer. Now because it’s such an important demographic, we’re making a stronger play for them.”

Millennials — those born between the early 1980s and early 2000s — number about 80 million, a slightly larger group than Baby Boomers. Macy’s has a solid head start on winning their dollars, Fromm says. The retailer is in the process of introducing 13 new fashion brands and repositioning 11 others, with plans to do the same in housewares and furnishings.

“It’s a brilliant strategy,” he says. “Millennials do like name brands, but private brands can be successful too, if they are well positioned. For the Millennial segment, it’s much easier to launch a new brand than to reposition an existing one.”

Blurred Lines: Macy’s Approach to Omnichannel

In an effort to cut down on excess inventory and get products into their customers hands as fast as possible, no matter where they purchase it from, Macy’s is increasing their omnichannel efforts. According to Cincinnati.com, Macy’s is expanding to 500 fulfillment centers and can ship products from nearly two thirds of their retail stores.

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From the article:

“If you want something at a store and they don’t have it, it’s a missed sales opportunity,” said Fitch Ratings analyst Monica Aggarwal. “Fulfillment departments are about maximizing revenue.”

The effort is pioneering the way department stores manage their inventory. Analysts say the strategy allows Macy’s to have it both ways: leveraging the appeal of in-store shopping with online efficiency. Macy’s is even bragging about its shipping savvy in TV ads that just started airing nationwide.

The effort also fattens Macy’s bottom line. Giving customers what they want where they want it is more profitable than trying to sell an unwanted item when the season is over.

The expansion of fulfillment departments – 200 new ones were added this summer – increases Macy’s efficiency in handling its merchandise. Proprietary software analyzes the location of an available item and orders it based on where it’s least likely to sell.

“This helps reduce markdowns – you want to sell everything at full price,” said Gilford Securities analyst Bernard Sosnick.

Macy's American Icon Collection, visual merchandising

American Icons Front and Center in Macy’s Newest In-Store Event

Featuring “things we love,” Macy’s newest marketing push is designed to appeal to our sense of patriotism, fitting seeing as Memorial Day is fast approaching. According to Forbes, the campaign features images of notable American images such as apple pie, lighthouses in New England, the Lincoln Memorial, and others juxtaposed with clothing items found in Macy’s stores.

Macy's American Icon Collection, visual merchandising

From the article:

The campaign began on May 15 and runs through July 4. All Macy stores are participating with special displays and events. Naturally the Herald Square store had the biggest events such as stars from MOTOWN the musical kicking off events in many departments including Ralph Lauren’s Denim & Supply, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger, Estee Lauder, Betsey Johnson and many more. Even Martha Stewart, despite the well-publicized conflicts with Macy’s, is running a sweepstakes through July 4 that will entitle the winner to have lunch with the iconic Martha herself in New York. Other prizes include a $250 gift card and “Martha’s American Food” book. Wow! Competing with that event is “Macy’s Great American Grilling Guru” where Macy’s culinary council chef Marc Forgone will award $10,000 to the winner. These are just a few of the many events taking place.

Many stores throughout the United States are participating. The Washington DC area is a good example of what is typical. On Thursday, May 16 an event held at Macy’s Metro Center was repeated at Macy’s Pentagon City on Saturday, May 18. The event featured wax figurines of well-know people from Madame Tussaud’s Washington on display in the stores. There were also presentations by Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, and Levi’s. Chelsea Green and the Green Project played jazz tunes adding to the excitement. Customers love live music, which brings to mind my recent visit to Macy’s Philadelphia store. For those of us who remember, it is the old John Wannamaker store. The store still has the world’s largest pipe organ played twice a day in the center court (where the famous Philadelphia Eagle rests). The organ is played for customer enjoyment. The atrium was like a cathedral, the music was wonderful. Customers stayed to listen. The music wasn’t enough though to mask the fact that the floor nearby ladies shoe department was filthy; oh well, at least my ears were happy if my eyes were not.

Macy's OmniChannel Approach, Shopper Marketing

Could E-Commerce Actually Be the ‘Holy Grail’ of Physical Stores? Macy’s thinks so.

It’s a popular bandwagon to hop on. To say that brick-and-mortar stores have met their end at the hands of e-commerce is a popular mantra people like to yell louder and louder as each new survey is published.

According to CoStar, this notion is greatly exaggerated. The culture of retail is not shifting one way or another, but rather online and in-store sales are blending to a point where Macy’s CFO Karen Hoguet thinks we need a new way of looking at the entire process.

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From the article:

A recent survey from the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group found that 93% of products sold in the U.S. are still bought in brick-and-mortar locations. And while technology has upended many product categories and more than a few individual retailers, it simultaneously has created opportunities for retailers to continue to make the store shopping experience relevant.

“I think the whole concept of bricks and mortar needs to go out the window,” Karen M. Hoguet, CFO of Macy’s said at a presentation at UBS Global Consumer Conference this month. “It’s just so different today. How do you account for somebody who’s buying off a mobile device in a store? How do you account for somebody who shopped all day, didn’t want to carry shopping bags on the train, went home and bought it all on macys.com? I really think it’s sort of an old way of thinking about the business,” Hoguet said.

Herald Square, Manhattan, Macy's Visual Merhchandising

Manhattan’s Herald Square to be transformed

With 20 million shoppers annually spending an average of $1.3 billion a year, Herald Square might be the most important retail landmark in Manhattan. Home to Macy’s flagship store, not to mention countless other retailers, this retail haven is getting a much-needed facelift. According to Chain Store Age, the new renovations will provide retailers with new ways to reach their customers.

Herald Square, Manhattan, Macy's Visual Merhchandising

From the article:

Herald Center, the giant 10-story, 250,000-sq.-ft. black glass retail and office property at the southwest corner of 34th Street and Broadway in Manhattan, is about to undergo a major transformation under long-time owner JEMB Realty. The property will be completely reclad to create a new leasing opportunity encompassing more than 50,000 sq. ft. of prime retail space at one of the most heavily trafficked, high-visibility corners in the world.

Built in 1982 on the site of the former Korvette’s discount store, Herald Center was originally conceived as a vertical mall. JEMB Realty, which acquired the property in 1986, is turning the property “inside out” in 2013, removing the black glass panels on the first three floors and replacing them with transparent panes that will enable flagship retailers to showcase their brand and goods to the more than 100 million pedestrians who pass the property each year.