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.

Mobile and Brick-and-mortar, retails new power couple

Mobile and Brick-and-Mortar: Retail’s New Power Couple

In a recent blog post, From Brick-and-Mortar to Brick-and-Mobile, we discussed how today’s empowered shoppers use their mobile devices to research products, compare prices and share their retail experiences along the path to purchase.

Shoppers now have unlimited access to information at their fingertips. They have grown accustomed to instant gratification afforded by their smartphones and if they don’t like what they see from a brand, they will go elsewhere with help from their mobile devices.

In the upcoming year, shoppers’ expectations for immediate customer satisfaction will only increase. This means that retailers must focus on a superior, seamless experience between mobile and in-store every time they step into their store.

Technology is now a part of the path to purchase. Retailers can no longer think of mobile and brick-and-mortar as separate entities.

Integrate and Simplify

Customers will get frustrated when the mobile experience doesn’t synchronize with the brick-and-mortar. A customer’s perception of the brand can be shaped by mobile. They are actively using their device while they shop in store, so their experience needs to flow simply and consistently between the channels. Prices, information, sales, coupons, as well as ease of use and tone of content must match.

One way retailers can make sure this happens is to break down any silos between departments. When departments communicate through one system, everyone has access to the same information, resulting in consistency, accuracy, and quick response.

Encourage Interaction

Retailers can use shoppers’ constant connectivity to their advantage by encouraging them to contribute their own content-like reviews and photos to social platforms. It creates engagement, builds and nurtures customer relationships, increases brand awareness, and most of all, generates trust with potential customers.

Empower store employees by giving them the right tools and more time to engage customers on the floor. Since store employees have face-to-face interaction with the customer, they can ensure the customer has a good experience. They can also urge shoppers to share socially, whether it’s an Instagram photo of them interacting with a new product or telling Facebook friends about a big sale.

Understand the Customer

The increased use of mobile devices has made customers accustomed to localized and highly personalized content. When shoppers research through mobile, they expect information that is directed to them. Customers want an authentic brand experience. They already have access to a myriad of purchasing options, so a brand must emotionally connect with the customer in order to stand apart.

Data collection can be used to understand customers and their shopping patterns. Retailers need to take into account customers’ preferences and behaviors along with specific store data. Understanding individual customers as well as local needs will help a retailer deliver the most relevant, personalized experience possible, both digitally and in store.

Over the past few years, mobile has transformed retail by providing people with infinite access to information and competitive options while they shop. In 2016, mobile’s role in retail will continue to gain importance, and retailers must take this into account when making decisions about upcoming strategies.

Technology is now a part of the path to purchase. Retailers can no longer think of mobile and brick-and-mortar as separate entities. In order to create a seamless brand experience between channels, retailers should consider their internal process. It is essential that retailers understand customers through data collection. What’s more, it’s important that departments communicate and share this data with each other, all the way down to the store level, to increase productivity and provide customers with a personalized, consistent and engaging experience every time they shop.

Find out how to improve the retail process through the year with the ebook, 16 Tactics for Merchandising Execution in 2016. The ebook addresses the most common challenges retailers face, and the top tactics needed to address them. When applied, these tactics will help retailers eliminate touch-point obstacles and deliver a better, more consistent customer experience across digital and store channels.

IBM’s Five Technology Trends That Will Drive Retail Innovation

In a video posted by IBM UK, Martin Butler, Retail Industry Leader for IBM UK and Ireland, predicts the 5 technology trends to look for in 2014. Retailers who are successful are those who can create a strong culture of innovation across their organization and can successfully pilot and drive these changes.

Here is Martin Butler’s predictions:

1. Create Value Using Social Media

2014 is when social media is going to come into its own, to help shoppers with their wants and needs. Analyzing social data at an aggregated level, such as trends, help retailers plan their businesses earlier versus the traditional forums such as focus groups, market research and press. Through new social media analytics, brands can quicker, easier and more accurately spot and act on trends as they emerge. Sifting through real-time detailed data will provide valuable information to buyers, merchandisers and marketers about customers perception about your brand and product. 

2. Predictive Analytics

For retailers the emerging power around advance analytics will drive an ever increasing level of personalized service to customers. Systems that can learn and predict based on cognitive computing will help make shopping experiences individually compelling. For example real-time personalized promotions in store, which in turn, will help improve the customer experience. 

3. Mobile in Mind

When designing new innovations – keep mobile in mind. As shoppers become smarter through mobile devices, mobile will become a much more important role. Be ready to embrace location based, augmented reality and gamification applications. These applications will encourage repeat purchases by allowing customers to be more actively engaged with the band. 

4. Internet of things 

With Wifi in stores, video cameras and energy management systems retailers must invest heavily into their IT infrastructure at the brick and mortar level. Data flying across the customer, retailer and supplier all connected in real-time; this is going to underpin further innovation.  

5. Multi-media & analytics; sound & video

This will mature massively in the next twelve months, Butler is absolutely sure more business models around this will continue to emerge. 

In-store technology: top tips for high street retailers

The exponential growth of digital has created a retail environment that 10 years ago did not exist. The retail environment is now a blend of the online and physical world. It has long been thought, online shopping would be the demise of brick & mortar and shoppers would be shopping and browsing solely online. We’ve now learned the online experience can’t reproduce the physical interaction between consumers and products. Instead retailers are embracing technology to engage with customers in unique and personalized ways. 

An independent agency, based in the U.K, Life recently carried out an audit of 16 stores on the high street, focusing on the central London area, looking at how each retailer was using technology in-store. Here are some of the things they discovered:

From the article posted by The Guardian:

The latest technology isn’t always best

Start with the shopper need and then implement the most effective solution. Italian design factory Alessi used a simple QR code shopping wall on the window of its store in London’s West End to grab the interest of passing people by linking to arresting content. Technology in this case was the enabler, not the end result.

User experience matters

If shoppers can’t easily get to the point of transaction, they’ll be frustrated and lose interest. Topshop’s design-your-own T-shirt concession from printing pioneers Yr showed the importance of a slick and intuitive user interface that makes it easy to create personalized products. It was engaging and offered instant gratification.

Make use of a shopper’s own devices

Our personal technology develops quicker than comparable hardware in-store. Leveraging social media to encourage us to share physical experiences with one another is a good way of getting around that fact. Topshop offered a great example of this when it linked up with Pinterest for a Christmas gift guide that encouraged shoppers to pick and share their inspirational gift ideas. Physical “Most pinned item” tags were hung on popular Pinterest picks in-store.

Not everybody wants a sales person in their face

Technology can also engage customers by selling to them. Clinique’s fixture in John Lewis features a self-service skin diagnostic terminal promising “90 seconds to great skin” – shoppers are presented with a printout of the results with a list of personal product recommendations. The consumer gets a valuable service with immediate results, while the retailer gets a chance to sell its product. It’s a great technological solution for those who prefer not to speak to a consultant.

Don’t neglect training

Technology is often only as good as the staff present. Audi City is a multi-sensory experience that allows car buyers to create and interact with virtual vehicles. Serious prospects are ushered downstairs where an experienced sales person takes them through all of the finishing trim options to spec their car. It’s a smart combination and as a result sales at the virtual showroom are now among the highest of any Audi dealership.

Consider all five senses

When creating an immersive experience in-store, consider extra sensory elements to communicate with shoppers. Plenty of cosmetics brands are using iPads, but Bobbi Brown’s concession in Selfridges offers headphones to browse its online beauty tutorials, making the display more engaging. Extra screens or related sound effects in the environment can increase dwell time and engagement.

Striking a balance

Digital and retail can appear separate, but bringing them together can be hugely effective. Burberry has done just that with a new retail space on Regent Street. Digital features include products that trigger video screens, audio-visual experiences and digital mirrors. Staff use iPads to check stock availability and make orders and fashion shows are streamed live to the store.

It’s now all about the omni-channel experience

Omni-channel retailing – joining up the customer experience across all channels, not separating it across individual ones – has to be seamless. Smart brands are looking to re-engineer the experience in a way that puts the shopper at the centre of the equation. Argos for example is ditching its laminated catalogues in new stores for iPads, easy navigation, fast-track collection and free Wi-Fi. But stores remain important, in particular making it easier for shoppers to collect purchases within a few hours of buying online.

Far from hastening the death of the high street, canny retailers are using technology to breathe new life into their offering. Boots recently teamed with Facebook for a 90-minute streamed event featuring style, hair and beauty tips from its Nottingham store. Shoppers could ask beauty experts questions and benefit from related deals in Boots stores.

The warning, however, is that technology is only a great experience when it works, but when it does the opportunities abound. The winners in the future will be those who can build an experience that takes the best from both digital and physical retailing.


Walmart mobile app, retail localization

Walmart’s New App Shows Real-Time Inventory Updates

Starting this summer, Walmart employees will be able to see real-time updates of inventory levels on their store shelves with the help of a new mobile app. According to RIS News, the tablet-enabled app allows employees to do everything from ensuring displays are set up correctly to printing missing labels.

Walmart mobile app, retail localization

From the article:

The Supplier Portal Allowing Retail Coverage (SPARC) app, developed by Walmart digital partner Rockfish, was piloted in 28 stores in four markets over the last several months with major suppliers including L’Oreal, Procter & Gamble, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Unilever and ConAgra, according to published reports. It was introduced at a Walmart supplier conference last month.

Vendors and third-party merchandisers who receive appropriate training on the app will no longer need to get assistance from Walmart store associates armed with Telxon tracking devices to perform basic in-store functions.

“Suppliers often visit our stores to check on their products,” Walmart spokesperson Ashley Hardie told Arkansas’ The City Wire. “Allowing them access to on-the-spot information through the app on their smartphone increases efficiency and allows for real-time decisions – and in retail, speed is important.”

RBM Technologies, SAP Insider, mobile technologies

3 Common Retail Campaign Problems, Solved

Drive Sales and Eliminate Waste with Retail-Specific Mobile Apps

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on SAP Insider and is available to download with a subscription.

Retailers are moving past the old idea of multichannel retailing and focusing on creating an omni-channel customer experience that is seamless across all available shopping channels. However, it can be a challenge to keep brick-and-mortar stores aligned and consistent with online and mobile campaign initiatives.

RBM Technologies, SAP Insider, mobile technologies

RBM’s Visual Merchandising Manager (VMM) Mobile solution for SAP retail clients helps solve the three most common problems that make it difficult for a retailer to run a successful in-store campaign.

Problem #1: Data silos.
To alleviate problems with disparate data sets, VMM Mobile enables retailers to combine all store, fixture, customer, and campaign data into a single source of truth. Once this information is centralized, retailers can automate campaign planning processes to support complex omni-channel objectives.

Problem #2: Too much or too little localized assortments delivered to stores.
VMM Mobile allows retailers to easily forecast and deliver the correct products and quantities to each location based on store clustering information and customer preferences. Store shelves can then be filled with products that fit the store profile and fixture dimensions. This helps drive sales, eliminate waste, and slash stranded inventory.

Problem #3: An inability to ensure in-store adherence to campaigns.
Retailers need to be certain that campaigns are executed consistently in each store. VMM Mobile provides store-specific merchandising directives to managers right on the sales floor, which not only ensures omni-channel coordination, but also reduces the time required to execute a campaign.

To learn more, visit

Mobile Marketing Flaws, Shopper Marketing

Companies rush to mobile, but online marketing efforts often fall short

As companies rush to establish a mobile presence, a new TabTimes article finds that most lack a comprehensive mobile marketing strategy to make them work.

Mobile Marketing Flaws, Shopper Marketing

The article notes that two main challenges facing companies’ mobile solutions are rarely accounted for: adaptations to the changing mobile landscape, and a lack of reporting structures to measure results.

From the article”

A notable difference in the case of mobile-first businesses is that they identified ‘acquiring more customers’ and ‘building new customers’ as their top goals for mobile. By contrast, mainstream organizations more often reported fuzzier goals of ‘brand engagement/loyalty’ and ‘needing to stay competitive’ as key reasons to go mobile.

“Most of the companies we talked to have responded to the growth in mobile with ad hoc development in a rush to get onto the platform,” said Stefan Tornquist, VP of Research for Econsultancy’s U.S. branch. Econsultancy is a digital marketing consulting firm.

Target Mobile, Visual Merchandising

7% of Target’s E-commerce Sales can be Attributed to Target Mobile

Target executive vice president of merchandising Kathryn Tesija notes the retail chain has seen an increase in sales from the mobile endeavors as of late. According to an article on RIS News, a revamped user interface and navigation, compatibility with Apple PassBook, and the adoption of new technologies has helped their mobile platforms.

Target Mobile, Visual Merchandising

From the article:

“Target’s mobile activities are part of its larger multichannel strategy. Tesija said the retailer is planning pilot programs for stores in the San Francisco and Minneapolis-St. Paul markets offering buy online/pick up in store, paying in one store for pick up in another store, and online payment for items shipped directly from a store, including same-day delivery options.

“We believe these tests will provide valuable information as we continue to shape our multichannel strategies,” said Tesija. “Ultimately, we expect to evolve towards more integration across our inventory and supply chain in which our stores, regional distribution centers and Web fulfillment centers all interact seamlessly to satisfy guests’ wants and needs through all our channels.””

Macy's In-Store marketing, mobile

Macy’s Taps Mobile as Silent Salesperson

Macy’s has long innovated in the digital arena and continues to do so with its mobile offerings. Martine Reardon, chief marketing officer for the department store chain, says Macy’s mobile apps and content are designed for communication, customer service and marketing. By using QR codes to lead consumers to rich content such as Bobbi Brown makeup tutorial videos, the mobile channel becomes a “silent salesperson.” Reardon continued, “It’s not a direct sell, but it adds to sales. It connects the best of the web to the in-store experience, and there’s conversion in both channels.”

Macy's In-Store marketing, mobile

Gearing up for the critical holiday shopping season, Macy’s re-designed its app, and 44% of existing users downloaded the new version prior to Black Friday, reports Reardon. The redesign resulted in 19% overall growth in its app user base. With the application, Macy’s leveraged push notifications to inform in-store shoppers about unadvertised Black Friday specials.

The retailer also created a dedicated application, used by 10% of its mobile customers, to help shoppers navigate its Herald Square flagship — the largest department store in the world —with turn-by-turn directions, information on special events, and a reservation system for the store’s restaurants and Santaland attraction. It also worked with partnerseBay and GSI Commerce to create detailed specifications of more than 300 products most of interest to holiday shoppers.

In its 39,000-square-foot Herald Square shoe salon, store associates use iPod touch devices to look up inventory information, accept cashless payments, and help to locate out-of-stock items.

Macy’s accepts Google Wallet in five markets and is piloting ISIS, the wireless carrier-driven mobile wallet solution, in Salt Lake City, Utah and Austin, Texas. Reardon says the retailer is working to integrate Apple’s Passbook into its operations.

[via RIS News]

JC Penny, Mobile Check Out, Retail Localization

JC Penney to Eliminate Standard Checkout

JCPenney CEO Ron Johnson is on a mission to eliminate traditional checkout by the end of 2013. In its place, he’s pushing mobile and self-checkout, telling the audience at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colo., yesterday that the stores will be 100-percent RFID (radio frequency identification) and Wi-Fi enabled, according to

Johnson said the overhaul would not only make customers happier about not waiting in lines, but the company would reinvest any savings it sees in customer service.

JC Penny, Mobile Check Out, Retail Localization

[via Retail Customer Experience]