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Macy’s makes mobile integral part of Black Friday strategy to drive in-store sales

November 6, 2012

Macy's to update its iPhone app with Black Friday features

Macy’s is enhancing its iPhone mobile application to help customers browse and shop for Black Friday specials specific to their local store.

The enhancements will make their debut on Nov. 15 with the goal of turning iOS devices into digital tools to help customers plan their shopping in advance of Black Friday, traditionally one of the busiest shopping days of the year. The new features include being able to view Black Friday specials, create shopping lists and locate where a special can be found in a local store.

“Our customer is reliant on her mobile phone to do so many things now and we figured we could really help her on what is such a crazy shopping day, hone in on what the best deals will be at Macy’s and figure out how to navigate to them in her individual store,” said Jennifer Kasper, group vice president of digital media and multi-cultural marketing for Macy’s, New York.

“The feature I think we are most proud of is that customers can pick a special that they are interested in buying in our store and they can find out where it will be stocked in their particular store,” she said.

“We anticipate the use of the app will be as a planning tool. We are releasing it on Nov. 15 so she can plan her attack and we definitely anticipate a surge of use on Black Friday.”

In-store navigation
The new Black Friday feature on Macy’s mobile app will enable customers to browse Black Friday specials specific to each Macy’s and help users navigate their local store by sending the department name and floor for each special by store location. The goal is to make Black Friday more productive for Macy’s customers by enabling them to create a shopping strategy before setting foot in the store.

Users will also be able to edit their shopping lists and share them with friends.

The new Black Friday feature for the Macy’s iOS app was created through a partnership with eBay, which aggregated information from a variety of sources, including store layouts as well as product pricing and photos, and made them actionable for the customer via an app.

Macy’s is also launching a new feature to help customers of the Herald Square store find their way around while it is being renovated.

“We anticipate that we’ll learn a tremendous amount from building this, particularly as it relates to navigation, which is something our customers have challenged us to do a better job with,” Ms. Kasper said.

“In an environment that can be challenging to navigate, we think the app is something that can help customers tremendously,” she said.

“We may continue some of the functionality that eBay is providing in the future.”

Consolidated experience
The new mobile features come at a time when Macy’s is ramping up its mobile strategy more broadly, with mobile search and mobile display both a bigger part of its media buy, per Ms. Kasper.

The stronger focus on mobile is in response to the growing number of customers who are spending more of their time on mobile devices.

“Customers are already using their phones to find what they want,” Ms. Kasper said. “They are using other apps and other tools that are at their disposal – we are trying to offer it to them in one consolidated experience.

“We are trying to put ourselves where our customers are already planning to spend time with the tools she is planning to be using,” she said.

The mobile enhancement is part of a broader strategy from Macy’s around Black Friday, so called because it traditionally the day when retailers’ revenue moves out of the red into the black for the first time.

For Black Friday, Macy’s customers will find sales starting at 12 am on Friday, Nov. 23.

Mobilizing key shopping days
Other retailers are likely to follow suit and also give mobile a bigger on key shopping days such as Black Friday.

 “Mobile has continued its upward trajectory in 2012 and we expect those increasing numbers to apply to Black Friday figures as well,” said Tom Nawara, vice president of emerging solutions and innovation at Acquity Group, Chicago.

“Shoppers are becoming more mobile savvy, and retailers such as Macy’s are catering to that mobile familiarity with focused marketing, sites, applications and deals for the channel,” he said. “Mobile is the optimal channel for location- and time-sensitive deals, and smart retailers will take advantage of this on Black Friday.”

When crafting a mobile strategy for Black Friday and other key shopping days, retailers need to keep in mind how consumers are using mobile.

“Most consumers aren’t using mobile to actually complete a purchase, but rather to augment their in-store or desktop experience,” said Patrick Stack, manager of digital strategy at Acquity Group. “Consumers use their mobile devices to find sales or exclusive deals, locate information in real-time, and make their shopping trip more efficient and productive. 

“As long as retailers keep this in mind, they can offer a truly valuable mobile experience and ultimately, keep consumers in their store and not competitors,” he said.

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

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