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Belk exec: Mobile ad-blocking can be combated with value-added content

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February 24, 2016

Belk is delving further into omnichannel tactics

Belk is delving further into omnichannel tactics

PALM DESERT, CA – A Belk executive at eTail West 2016 claimed that in order for retailers to circumvent ad-blocking problems, they must offer value to consumers by serving relevant content in exchange for personal information.

During the keynote panel discussion, “Migrating To An Omnichannel Philosophy: Assessing Technology, Resources And Strategies,” executives from Barneys New York, Belk, Silver Star Brands and Domo examined challenges involved in going omnichannel, including optimizing the customer experience across all touchpoints. Retailers seeking to offer more digitally-friendly properties must also have a strong structure in place and ensure that top executives are on the same page.

“We definitely have a structure in place that I think has gone through some evolution in trying to determine what it means to be omnichannel,” said D. Kate Forbes, vice president of ecommerce, digital experience and operations at Belk.

Efficient optimization
The Barneys New York executive discussed how his brand is focusing more on how it can engage customers across all channels, which prompted it to roll out a social blogging window available on a mobile application.

“Omnichannel for me is when a brand works as a single channel and customers gets the most optimized experience across all touchpoints,” said Anoop Kulshreshtha, vice president of digital technology at Barneys New York.

Meanwhile, Silver Star Brands is seeking to develop omnichannel targeting tactics in a bid to save on print materials, such as catalogs. If consumers are willing to interact with the brand via email or mobile, it can skip sending certain households a print catalog that may cost 50 cents per unit, resulting in a massive cost-cutting measure.

Belk is leveraging omnichannel strategies to combat the advent of ad-blocking programs on mobile devices. This requires a win-win tactic for consumers and retailers, as shoppers are more likely to tell you what they are doing when they receive added value in their interactions.

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Belk’s mobile checkout

The proliferation of tokenization and Apple Pay has made the purchasing process slightly more anonymous on mobile devices, meaning that brands must ramp up their messages and emails to customers with relevant content if they want to extract any personal details.

A Belk executive at the NRF 105th Annual Convention & Expo admitted that the retailer is conducting tests in the mobile messaging space by sending relevant content and coupons to shoppers’ smartphones, showcasing the potency of beacons for department stores (see story).

Consumers are also more likely to relinquish personal data when they have a great experience with a brand.

“When it’s the right experience, I think we are less inclined to feel invaded,” said Dan Roden, senior director of product advocacy at Domo.

A structure of change
Perhaps most importantly, high-level retail executives must be on board with the adoption of omnichannel initiatives. Belk is currently exploring how it leverages some of its third-party vendor affiliates and technologies so that the brand does not remain at a standstill while implementing some of its big projects.

“It’s definitely an edict from top down to be omnichannel,” Belk’s Ms. Forbes said.

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Belk’s mobile site advertises available coupons in the top toolbar

It is also paramount for marketers to keep contextual experiences front-of-mind. Customers cannot be placed into a box for identical targeting methods. Additionally, while loyalty programs are invaluable, they cannot provide entirely accurate information on each shopper’s path to purchase.

“We cannot be looking at a CRM system to provide us with omnichannel insights,” Barneys’ Mr. Kulshreshtha said.

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Alex Samuely is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York. Reach her at alex@mobilemarketer.com.

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