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Macy’s launches mcommerce destinations to drive mobile sales

July 21, 2010

Macy's mobile-optimized Web site

Macy's mobile-optimized Web site

Macy’s Inc. has launched an mcommerce Web site for its Macy’s-brand department store chain and plans to roll out a similar Bloomingdale’s mobile shop next week.

The retailer’s mobile site lets users search for and purchase products, redeem special online sales offers and locate product availability at nearby Macy’s locations. The company claims this is the first mobile optimization by a major high-end retailer in the United States.

“We are always working to improve the performance of our online offering, including mobile,” said Jim Sluzewski, senior vice president of corporate communications and external affairs at Macy’s, Cincinnati, OH.

Macy’s Inc. is the parent company of the Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s department store chains. These are the retailers’ first mobile-optimized Web sites.

Mobile Web developer Usablenet designed the sites.

“Creating an optimized mobile site enables Macy’s to stay competitive with other retailers developing multichannel strategies,” said Jason Taylor, vice president of global product strategy at Usablenet, New York. “We expect to see a high impression rate for this site, including a sharp increase in mcommerce purchases.”

Macy’s past mobile initiatives include its iShop application, available for download in the Apple App Store, which the company released last year (see story).

Macy’s mobile-optimized Web site
“We wanted to create a clear, visually and technologically sophisticated site that reflects the innovative, fashion-forward style of both Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s,” Mr. Taylor said. “As two of the largest department stores in the country, it was important to have a similarly refined mobile site.”

Here is a screen grab of the site’s home page:


The Macy’s mobile home page includes a search feature, a store locator and special offers on Macy’s products.

By scrolling down, users can view a list of different product categories, such as “Beauty,” “Furniture,” “Kids” and “Shoes.”

Consumers can click on links to Macy’s sales from category pages, and find sub-categories to help narrow down a product search.

For example, the Bed and Bath category includes sections for towels, sheets and personal care products.

Additionally, users can view lists of costumers’ top-rated products in each category.

Product pages display pricing information, user ratings, links to social media Web sites users can click on to share information about the product with friends, as well as drop down menus where users can choose quantities and sizes where applicable.

Customers can add items to their shopping carts or check for availability in nearby store locations.

They can sign up for a online profile to gain extra features like expedited check out.

Finally, email subscribers can check the Macy’s newsletter from their mobile devices to find online sales and promotions before anyone else.

Macy’s is targeting both loyal customers who subscribe to the department store’s newsletter and other consumers, such as executives, busy parents and teens, who might not have time to shop in-store, per Usablenet.

Getting mobile retail right
Major retailers are quickly realizing that mcommerce is an important tool for driving revenue.

Sixty-one percent of Fortune 500 companies are planning to incorporate sales and commerce capabilities into their mobile offerings, according to a Kony Solutions Inc. study (see story).

And, one in five retailers already have fully-realized mobile strategy (see story).

“If you’re a store-based retailer, [mobile commerce] is a no-brainer,” said Nikki Baird, managing partner at Retail Systems Research, Miami. “You’ve got your stores, and those are assets that you’ve made a huge investment in, and you’ve got online.

“Mobile brings those two together,” she said. “So, it’s certainly going to be [important] that you have a mobile-optimized site or an application for the smartphone platform, depending on your customer base.

“Beyond that, there’s a window for retailers to be differentiating what they offer customers in the mobile space.”

Strong brand equity, such as that enjoyed by Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, goes a long way in executing successful mcommerce strategies.

However, other factors can make or break such initiatives.

For example, a mobile-optimized Web site that exists in isolation of a retailer’s other offerings is less likely to succeed.

Retailers need to understand how mobile fits into their overall sales strategy, rather than simply going mobile for mobile’s sake.

“JCPenney, for example, has done things with mobile apps, with mobile Web, SMS campaigns,” Ms. Baird said. “What I appreciate the most is how well its all integrated.

“It’s not just mobile standalone,” she said. “It’s all wrapped in together.”

Another key to crafting a valuable mcommerce property is sound content management.

“That seems to be a really hot topic in regard to mcommerce,” Ms. Baird said. “If you want to extend your Web assets to mobile world, better take a hard look at the content management system you have to manage what you’re putting on a mobile device.

“Operating systems, devices, different platforms – all the fun tech aspects get in the way if you don’t have the right content management.” she said.

Final Take
Peter Finocchiaro, editorial assistant at Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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