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Gap brings together music and mobile to drive in-store sales

December 1, 2011

Gap shoppers access a customized song catalog via Roqbot app

Shoppers at a Gap store in San Francisco can check-in via the new social music app Roqbot to receive a 25 percent discount on their purchases.

The Roqbot app lets users control the music in bars, restaurants, stores, and other public venues right from their phone the Gap store in the Marina district of San Francisco is piloting the mobile app to engage customers with the music playing in stores during the holidays.

“We have a rich history in music that continues to live on today in various ways—for example, we recently launched our ‘I Want Candy’ video starring Maria Aragon as well as our Joy it Up album, which is a compilation of songs by up-and-coming artists that our Facebook fans can stream, download and share,” said Olivia Doyne, a spokeswoman for Gap Inc., San Francisco.

“What’s interesting about Roqbot is that it’s designed to engage customers in our store,” she said. “By downloading the app for free, customers can discover and influence what we’re playing while they shop.”

Music to shop by
Roqbot replaces traditional background music services with a dynamic stream of music for each store that can be customized from Roqbot’s library of 6 million songs.

The stream automatically adjusts to preferences expressed by customers in the store.

Shoppers using the Roqbot app inside the San Francisco Gap store through the rest of the holiday season can browse a catalog of songs customized for the Gap that includes a mix of holiday tunes and recent hits. The catalog includes songs from Gap’s Joy it Up mix tape, which is featured on the retailer’s Facebook page.

“The majority of businesses are using music in their stores to create an enjoyable experience for their customers,” said Garrett Dodge, CEO of Roqbot, Berkeley, CA.

“We bring a new angle on this that is enabled by the smartphone generation,” he said. “Through that engagement, we are able to deliver these other offers to the customers.

“Customers are really motivated to interact with the music because it is a big part of the experience when they are in the venue. This true when users are in a bar or the gym and we’ve seen that it is even true when you are in the Gap doing your shopping or waiting for someone else that is shopping.”

Gap shoppers using the app can request songs they would like to hear while they are shopping and vote on the music they do hear. Songs can be purchased from iTunes.

Music can also be shared on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and foursquare.

A 25 percent off coupon is delivered in the app when users check-in at the Gap. Users can show coupon on their phones when they checkout to redeem it.

Holiday tunes
One of the things Gap hopes to accomplish with this effort is to determine how shoppers feel about hearing holiday music while they are shopping in November and December.

“Part of the pilot is figuring out if customers want holiday music,” Mr.Dodge said. “We will be looking to see what customers respond to both in the songs they request and the songs they vote on.”

Shoppers can download the Roqbot app on either their iPhone or Android phone to check-in at the Gap.

The strategy is supported with three digital displays in the Gap store. These displays showcase the song currently playing, users who have checked-in and Gap’s imagery.

Roqbot, which was in limited beta until recently, is also available at bars, gyms, restaurants and barbershops in San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles and New York. It delivers a music stream to these businesses via an Internet-connected digital media player from Cisco Systems.

“We see a really high level of engagement,” Mr. Dodge said. “In a lot of instances, around 10 percent of the customers in the venue at any time are engaging with Roqbot.
“Roqbot integrates a music experience as well as some of the things that shopping or check in apps have traditionally handled as well,” he said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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