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Kohl’s leverages mobile to spread its holiday message

November 2, 2012

Kohl's iPhone app

With mobile expected to play a bigger role in consumers’ shopping activities this holiday season, Kohl’s is making mobile a key part of its marketing strategy, including plans to offer free Wi-Fi in all of its stores and a foursquare check-in promotion.

Users will be leveraging their mobile devices this year to make holiday shopping easier and more convenient by researching products online, looking for special deals and offers and making purchases. Kohl’s is one of many retailers that will be supporting shoppers’ mobile use via Wi-Fi, applications and other mobile strategies.

“Retailers are increasingly offering mobile experiences to go along with their in-store experiences, but they’re rapidly finding that in-store reception isn’t all that great,” said Nikki Baird, managing partner at RSR Research, Miami, FL. “So it gets back to offering free Wi-Fi pretty quickly.

“Also, retailers are increasingly aware that free Wi-Fi can be something of a quid pro quo – I give you free Internet access, and in return, I get to see what it is you’re doing while on my internet access,” she said.

Ms. Baird is not affiliated with Kohl’s and spoke based on her experience in mobile.

Kohl’s did not respond to press inquiries.

Staying connected
The retailer’s cross-channel holiday campaign focuses on the deep savings provided throughout the holiday season and a convenient shopping experience, using mobile, online, email, social media, TV and in-store tactics to deliver its message.

Just in time for Black Friday, the retailer will offer free Wi-Fi in all of its stores nationwide so that shoppers can easily access their online shopping lists.

Kohl’s recognizes that mobile users are increasingly interested in using their devices while in a store to enhance their shopping trip by enabling them to research products, compare prices and look for more sizes and colors online.

To support the new Wi-Fi initiative, Kohl’s is encouraging shoppers to check-in on foursquare for additional savings opportunities.

Reducing shopping cart abandonment
The retailer has also revamped its app with better navigation and an integrated shopping cart, for easier checkouts.

With the smaller screen on mobile devices, shoppers interested in making a mobile purchase are often frustrated by checkout processes that require many taps. By streamlining the checkout process for mobile, retailers such as Kohl’s hope to reduce shopping cart abandonment rates.

The Kohl’s app enables users to view and search the newest products, find local store information as well as scan QR code and bar codes to find product descriptions, read reviews and shop online.

Also on the mobile front, Kohl’s has enhanced its online list builder with a real-time budgeting feature that can be managed from a smartphone or tablet. The list builder enables shoppers to create customized shopping lists and share them via email or social channels.

Social networking
Kohl’s is also leveraging social media, including creating new Pinterest boards to provide holiday gift ideas.

Additionally, Kohl’s Facebook fans will receive exclusive savings opportunities during the holidays through Friday Flash Sales. Fans can also participate in “Like Races” to help select which gifts go on sale and can enter the New Arrivals Sweepstakes.

Kohl’s social media holiday strategy also includes the retailer making a $1 donation to Toys for Tots up to $500,000 for every new person who “Likes” its Facebook page.

“This year reflects the first year where retailers are moving more firmly beyond experimentation and into understanding how consumers are using mobile to shop, and what retailers need to do to help enable those experiences,” Ms. Baird said. “Mobile last year was really a preview of what was possible.

“This year, we’ll see better integrated experiences that tap into online and store much better, as well as more targeted applications, like Target’s plans to help parents create a holiday wish list for their kids by scanning bar codes with their phones while shopping in the store,” she said.

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

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