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Macy’s exec: Mobile cannot be a cookie-cutter approach

January 16, 2013

NEW YORK – A Macy’s executive at the NRF 102nd Annual Convention & Expo said that mobile needs to be customized and personalized, meaning that the medium intertwines into every part of a marketing strategy.

During the “The Future of Payments: How Retailers Can Prepare for the Mobile Commerce Revolution” executives from American Express and Macy’s spoke about the role that mobile is increasingly playing for retailers with both marketing and commerce. The session was moderated by David Edelman, global co-leader of digital marketing at McKenzie & Company, Boston.

“For the millennial, it’s almost expected with technology, so for us not to be there – particularly in the mobile space – you could potentially miss out on the largest segment in the population today,” said Martine Reardon, chief marketing officer at Macy’s, New York.

“Between QR codes, what we’re doing on Facebook and Instagram that is feeding into our mobile app, what we do with shopkick – everybody is different but that is why personalization becomes so important because there isn’t just one cookie-cutter approach to it,” she said.

“The more that you can understand the customer and what kind of segment she’s in, the better you will be at designing offers for her.”

Multichannel mobile
Macy’s is a retailer that not only delves into multiple mobile mediums but also continuously tests different areas to see what its consumers are most responsive to.

Macy’s mobile strategy centers around solving problems for the customer. Therefore, the brand invests in three pillars of mobile – commerce, omnichannel and marketing.

On the commerce side, it is about driving incremental sales through both a smartphone and tablet.

Although mobile wallets are still new for Macy’s, it is an area that the company is testing with initiatives that include working with Google Wallet and Isis.

As much as commerce is important, making the mobile experience fun and engaging is equally as important to align with the brand’s entertainment focus.

QR codes in particular have been effective for Macy’s. The brand originally began using mobile bar codes about three years ago and has since evolved it to include rich media and video.

For example, a QR code campaign with cosmetic brand Bobbi Brown showed users how to create their own smoky eye look. Although the effort was not directly selling products, the QR codes helped show users how to put products together, which ultimately drove sales.

On the omnichannel side, if a consumer goes into a store, Macy’s is able to use mobile as a selling tool for store associates to find additional information around products and bridge the online and offline worlds.

In December, Macy’s launched a new version of its mobile app that uses tiles and is swipeable. Ten days after Macy’s rolled out the app, 44 percent of existing users had already downloaded the new version, showing how engaged consumers are with their mobile devices nowadays.

Additionally, Macy’s launched an app specific to its Herald Square location in New York to help customers navigate the in-store experience. Per the company, 10 percent of Macy’s app users have used the app since its Oct. 2012 launch.

Macy’s also still has a large footprint in traditional media, including radio, print and television. In particular, Macy’s uses TV advertising to encourage users to text in a keyword in exchange for a mobile coupon.

Coupons especially are what are driving commerce and engagement with consumers, per Ms. Reardon.

Mobile opportunity
Suzan Kereere, senior vice president and general manager of global network business at American Express, New York, also spoke during the session about mobile changing consumer behavior.

Per the exec, mobile commerce is reaching a critical mass.

When it comes to mobile wallets though, there are still plenty of challenges.

“I think it’s fair to say that the concerns that retailers have about mobile with payments in the store are real,” Ms. Kereere said.

For instance, there is a low penetration of NFC-enabled phones and retailers have been slow to upgrade their point-of-sale systems.

Additionally, age plays a role in how mobile is being used. Consumers aged younger than 45 years old are more savvy while older consumers are more brand loyal and it can be difficult for marketers to capture their attention.

“We have to make the experience much more engaging and easier from a fulfillment point of view,” Ms. Kereere said.

“Mobile commerce is happening now – now is the time to get in,” she said.

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

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