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American Eagle Outfitters exec: 70pc of emails opened via mobile devices

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June 26, 2013

NEW YORK – An American Eagle Outfitters executive at Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals East said that as the company aims to create a unified vision of its customers, the overlap between mediums such as email and mobile is growing.

During the “Guest Executive Forum with IBM Tealeaf Solutions: Creating A Customer-Centric Omnichannel Experience” session, the American Eagle Outfitters executive spoke about how the company has implemented feedback into its online and mobile channels to get a better perspective on what its consumers do and how they shop. Additionally, the session gave a look inside how the retailer organizes its omnichannel strategy internally.

“Whether you have mobile in your world or you’re doing mobile, if you send emails, you’re a mobile company,” said Joe Megibow, senior vice president and general manager of omnichannel ecommerce at American Eagle Outfitters, Pittsburgh.

“We’re at over 70 percent now – every email we send is optimized for a mobile device,” he said.

Unified vision
According to Mr. Megibow, having an omnichannel approach is all about putting the customer at the center of everything that the brand does.

Customers nowadays look at a brand from one central perspective, especially for American Eagle Outfitter’s prime demographic of consumers aged 15 – 25 years old.

Therefore, the goal of omnichannel is to eliminate all of the different channel conflicts for consumers.

For example, consumers come into stores armed with their mobile devices in hand. While they are tangibly interacting with products, they are also looking them on the brand’s mobile site.

At one point, American Eagle Outfitters outsourced all of its mobile initiatives. When the company had about 30 percent of its online traffic coming from mobile, the retailer did not have a staff that focused on mobile.

At the same time, the customer was interacting with multiple touch points, often at the same time.


American Eagle’s iPhone app

Therefore, the company was set up organizationally in a category or channel-driven approach that did not think about the customer.

One of the first steps that American Eagle Outfitters took to unify all of its channels together was online and mobile feedback through comments.

At the time that the company rolled out feedback options, roughly 62 percent of emails were opened on mobile devices.

The company sent out an email blast to its users that encouraged them to write a review about a product online.

However, when the company sent out the email, mobile reviews were not rolled out. Instead, consumers who opened the email from their mobile devices were directed to a link that was not accessible.

Once a consumer complained about the problem, mobile reviews were rolled out and now the company sees a 20 percent increase in reviews every day, according to Mr. Megibow.

Feedback mechanisms are also rolled out organizationally across the company with store, product design, QA/tech, fulfillment and merchandising teams all working on reviews.

By creating a single view of customers, American Eagle Outfitters is also working to tailor marketing and offers to specific groups of consumers to figure out what is and is not working.

The company can also better position their inventory and merchandising buys by understanding how a consumer interacts across multiple mediums.

Mobile Web vs. app
American Eagle Outfitters also uses a variety of different forms of mobile messaging to connect with its consumers.

For example, the company uses both SMS and in-app push notifications.

Although there is a growing trends towards push notifications, it still requires that consumers download an app, which is difficult in convincing a consumer to do.

Per Mr. Megibow, American Eagle Outfitters is seeing a 4:1 ratio of consumers going to the retailer’s mobile site versus downloading the app.

As the company invests in its app more, the executive expects the ratio to improve.

The store’s associates are trained in how to drive consumers to online platforms to shop, but consumers are increasingly becoming more tech-savvy than employees.

“The funny thing in general is that our customers are more educated about our apps and our sites than our associates are,” Mr. Megibow said.

“Our associates are in our stores everyday, they know our stores, they know our inventory,” he said. “This is part of what got us here – is that our customers came in with more knowledge about what was online.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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