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Dress Barn and Maurice’s exec: Consumers should experience a brand across all channels

February 28, 2013

PALM DESERT, CA – A Dress Barn and Maurice’s executive at eTail West said that as marketers continue to rely on omnichannel marketing, the trick is to develop unique messaging for each channel to incentivize users to interact across platforms.

The Dress Barn and Maurice’s executive spoke about how omnichannel retail is evolving during the “The Merger of Offline and Online to Promote the Highest Level of Convenience For Your Customers” session. The session also addressed the challenges with brands looking to deploy new technology, such as mobile applications.

“People should experience our brand across all channels, so when we run a promotion and someone sees it on a store sign, they should also see that when they go to the Web site, they should also see it on SMS and on tablet, mobile and social,” said Brett Trent, vice president of ecommerce at Dress Barn and Maurice’s, Duluth, MN.

“Next, go see your marketing group and say, ‘Do we want our consumers to engage with us in as many channels as they possibly can?’ Absolutely,” he said.

“The problem is in practical application that those two very reasonable ideas are in conflict with each other. Because as a customer, if I see the exact same message on in-store signage as I see on the Web site, then why would I possibly engage with you in all those channels? There is no incentive for me to do so.”

Ascena Retail Group owns and operates five brands, including Dress Barn and Maurice’s.

End-to-end solution
Retailers share the common goal of wanting to stay relevant in a changing landscape.

Consumers want to buy what they want, when they want it and how they want it. This is the basic guideline of omnichannel retail.

However, there is a difference in understanding that omnichannel does not necessarily translate to homogeneous marketing.

Consumers expect to see cross-platform marketing.

Without a shared vision, organizations fall into latency.

“We’re all problem solvers in this business – most of us love it,” Mr. Trent said.

“Before we do that, we need to know which dragon we are slaying and which problem we are trying to solve,” he said.

Observing what a shopper does is key to understanding how consumers interact with content.

Technology offers retailers new ways to think about how consumers are satisfied with their mobile experiences.

For example, a retailer could build a smartphone application that consumers could log-in to see products in all of the styles that are available at a local store. They could then press a button to send the order to their local store for pick-up.

This kind of app minimizes the amount of time that a customer spends doing something distasteful – searching for an item in a perfect color and size. However, if a brand prides itself on creating a fun in-store experience, the app misses the mark with consumers.

Therefore, marketers need to think of ways to use technology that make the most sense for their consumers.

Distracted users
The idea of distraction proceeds from an assumption of focus, per Mr. Trent.

Consumers are inundated with distractions nowadays. Therefore, distraction is the rule and focus is the exception.

Constantly divided attention is a concept that there is not any focus anymore. Consumers are constantly sharing their attention.

Therefore, marketing needs to be cut down to the bare minimum to grab a consumer’s attention.

Although certain technologies – such as apps – might spur engagement in consumers, the overarching goal of the technology needs to tie back into a brand’s omnichannel strategy.

“Does this solve a problem that we really have?” Mr. Trent said. “Does it meet the threshold of continuously divided attention that we expect from our customers?

It’s not about saying no, but it is about asking direct questions,” he said.

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

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