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Mobile device is game-changer for in-store engagement: Indigo Books & Music exec

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January 16, 2013

NEW YORK – An Indigo Books & Music executive at the NRF 102nd Annual Convention & Expo said that the company is in the process of developing a mobile application, which will tie-in with loyalty and primarily engage in-store shoppers.

During the “Consumer Buying Behavior is Changing. How are you responding?” session, executives from Nova Pontocom and Indigo Books & Music discussed how they are making use of data to create a more personalized shopping experience. The session was moderated by Cynthia Renfrow, senior director of EMEA Retail/CP Practice at SAS Institute, Roosevelt, MN.

“People still like to shop – they kind of like to go into a retail environment,” said Sumit Oberai, chief information officer and executive vice president of digital at Indigo Books & Music, Toronto.

“Our mobile is not being led by the ecommerce team – it is being led by a cross-functional team because of the store engagement,” he said.

“We think the mobile device will be the game-changer.”

Mobile reads
Indigo Books & Music has a mobile site that serves recommendations for products that consumers may be interested in.

The company is currently developing mobile applications that will include push notifications to serve users relevant products based on their interests.

Loyalty plays a big role for the company with a program that includes 5.5 million members. Therefore, making the loyalty card mobile will be a lever for consumers to download the brand’s upcoming mobile app, per Mr. Oberai.

With consumers using their mobile devices often in stores to check-in and comparison shop, Mr. Oberai said that eventually he thinks that the channel will be on par with Web with analytics.

According to the executive, approximately 90 percent of the company’s sales are made in bricks-and-mortar stores. The remaining 10 percent is from digital. Loyalty again is critical to continuing to drive in-store traffic, especially for multichannel retailers.

Instead of driving online sales, Mr. Oberai said that the app will be more focused on elevating the in-store experience with only a few purposes – recommendations, loyalty and helping users find products in a store, for example.

“Books are something that you want recommendations on – it is a category where word of mouth and what your friends are reading is a very powerful influencer for what you want to buy,” Mr. Oberai said.

Email can also be a great way to personalize the shopping experience. Per the executive, the company currently targets approximately 60 percent of its emails with the remaining 40 percent being mass emails.

Target with data
According to Vicente Rezende, marketing director of Nova Pontocom, Sao Paulo, consumers are now in complete control of the shopping experience with multiple screens and platforms.

Nowadays, consumers can price-check in real-time from their mobile devices, meaning that it is especially important for online retailers to have a strong mobile presence.

“They now know as much about brands and products that sellers do – the consumer has the advantage,” Mr. Rezende said.

“Mobile is one of those sources – and when I say that all sources are data sources today – that has a special importance from this aspect,” he said.

“The data that you get from mobile is huge compared to other sources, so it’s very important for us as part of our strategy.”

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

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