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Sears, Target tie for third place: 2009 Mobile Retailer of the Year

January 13, 2010

sears3Sears Holdings and Target tied at third place for the 2009 Mobile Retailer of the Year award.

Based on the nominations received from readers and submissions from this publication’s editorial team, Mobile Commerce Daily is convinced that Sears and Target serve as role models for outstanding use of mobile commerce and marketing. Here is a breakdown of Sears’ and Target’s work in the mobile space in 2009, Sears first and then Target.

Sears has engaged in a cross-channel and cross-format approach to mobile marketing and commerce.

The company has launched applications for more than just commerce, continued to refine mobile optimized Web sites, and built SMS programs that support customer service, acquisition and mobile transactions. 

Sears led the way as one of the first retailers with a fully functional commerce-enabled mobile Web site, and continued with iPhone applications and built upon a base of SMS cross-channel marketing and promotion. 

A multichannel plan
Multichannel is part of the DNA of Sears – the “Shop Your Way” campaign emphasizes mobile as an integrated offering and seamless customer experience – in every store, Web site, catalog and flyer.

sears1216This year, Sears featured mobile-purchase-to-store-pick up in a national television spot, as an example of mobile, Web and the in-store integrated experience. 

Today, via mobile device, customers can see an integrated order history, find physical stores, contact customer service via SMS, phone or email, and search, browse and buy on the phone, via application or mobile optimized Web site.

Sears has consistently used SMS to drive cross channel store traffic, with customer specific coupon offers delivered via SMS and redeemable at physical point of sale in stores. 

Customers can get text alerts to confirm that a Web order is ready for in-store pickup. 

Over the holiday season, the Kmart Deal of the Day was an integrated daily text alert, tied to a Web and mobile optimized Web experience, with the same merchandise available online and in stores.

Qualified database of respondents
Sears maintains dedicated short codes (SEARS and KMART, in addition to other short codes) and is constantly adding to the list of opted-in consumers for deals via SMS alerts. 

The company has used sweepstakes, Web signups integrated via checkout, email, in-store signage, event marketing and print ads to drive SMS signups and opt-in.

Optimal customer experience
Sears has focused intently on creating a mobile-optimized Web experience for the small screen, via applications, mobile Web and messages. 

The Sears and Kmart sites offer full browse, search, review, and purchase, via mobile applications and WAP sites. 

The innovative MyGofer Web site offers mobile buying with the added bonus of drive-thru and curbside pickup of orders in some locations. 

Mobile access points are optimized for utility and ease-of-use on the mobile device, whether it’s finding a store location, reading customer reviews of an item, or buying right from the mobile phone. 

Mobile merchandising
The mobile sites for Sears offer customized, local offers, based on location and even the weather.

Customers also have the ability to see localized deals from print circulars, optimized for the mobile phone, and have been able to access things like holiday deals-of-the-day, and full ability to take advantage of the price and shipping promotions also available on the main Web sites. 

Gift cards or promotional codes and offers are part of the mobile buying experience, and easy to use on the mobile ordering screens.

Inventory management
Customers on sears mobile sites and applications have the ability to buy on the go and pickup in the store, with confirmation via text message that their physical items are ready for pickup, and a “ready in five minutes” guarantee when they arrive at the store. 

The mobile device can show customers which stores near them have the physical item they want to buy in stock and ready for purchase, or ship-to-store convenience for many items as well. 

Fast and convenient shipping and delivery is always available, with unique programs like ShipVantage, that allow unlimited included shipping of mailable items for one low annual fee.

On-site search experience
Search is key to the mobile experience on Sears sites, and optimized to return relevant results that are easy to browse on the phone. Searches are a snap to refine and drill down by category. 

Search is prominently featured in the apps and WAP sites, and the company even offers a unique way to “search” with our Personal Shopper iPhone application features. 

Customers can take a picture of an item, send it in, and the Sears Personal Shopper Crew will search for items for the customer, on Sears own sites and beyond. 

The customer has the option of getting a call or email with their search results, and they do not need to register on the Web site or application to get the benefit of this innovative service. Customers can then place their order, right over the phone, for almost any item.

High rate of response
Sears has reached great numbers of mobile and physical shoppers with a variety of marketing tactics and campaigns, including mobile banners, SMS ads, print-to-SMS, live text call-to-action at events and on venue media screens, and driving application downloads via mobile Web promotions. 

In-store promotion of mobile and Web offerings thru kiosks, signage and more have brought mobile offering awareness to a wide cross-section of Sears customers.

Mobile commerce
Sears mobile commerce sites and marketing have used simplicity and utility as the hallmarks of the mobile experience. 

The applications’ layouts combine easy-to-read graphics with a clear interface  and industry standard navigation and display. 

Recent TV spots featuring football buddies driving to a tailgate, with the guys using the Sears mobile site to buy the grill they forgot to bring, brought  to life a fun and humorous take on Sears solving customer problems with a real world mobile utility – available today to Shop Your Way.

Shaping mobile commerce
Sears mobile technology has led the way, with a stream of applications for existing platforms, and also constant evaluation and development of applications and technologies for emerging and growing mobile platform choices. 

The company has presented at mobile industry and technology events on speaker panels and as featured presenters.

Sears plans to continue leading the way with cutting edge applications, growing SMS marketing opportunities, and mobile Web site enhancements for 2010.


Target's iPhone app

Target's iPhone app

Target uses mobile capabilities in a number of ways.

Since 2005, Target has used text messaging in select advertising and marketing campaigns.

Target’s goal is to be fresh and innovative, connecting with its guests in a way that’s reflective of their wants and needs.

Text messaging is layered into a campaign if Target believes it aligns with its overall strategy or adds an element of interest or surprise for guests.

One of the more recent campaigns in which Target used text messaging was its Target Ten campaign, which ran from July to August 2009.

Target Ten used print marketing to showcase fun, playful top-ten lists highlighting products found in Target stores.

Examples included “Ten Unofficial Products of U.S. Presidents,” “Ten Good Things that Make Bad Mascots,” “Ten Things that are a Total Oxymoron” and “Ten Super Trendy Celebrity Baby Names.”

Guests could then text the number listed in the print ads to have the specific top-ten list sent to their phone.

Currently, guests can sign up to receive a text alert or an email when the latest Weekly Ad is available for viewing on

Additionally, they can also register to be notified when the newest products for Daily Deals are made available on the site.

The mobile site
Target has a mobile site, where guests can view products, read reviews, check ratings, find the nearest store, browse its weekly ad and view the latest marketing campaigns.

The retailer also has the Target iPhone application. Target recently extended the mobile offerings on its iPhone application, and for mobile in general, just in time for the holiday season.

During the 2009 holiday season, the Target iPhone application ranked as high as No. 1 in the free lifestyle application download category.

Mobile marketing strategy
For Target, mobile is not merely a marketing channel, it is also a service channel.

In addition to promoting products, building brand awareness and engaging guests with its brand, Target views mobile as an important channel to help its guests make the most of their Target and shopping experience.

With email and text alerts, for example, Target is able to make finding great deals even more convenient for its guests. And, with its in-store shopping tools (including Gift Finder, Target Lists, Find a Store, Find it at a Target Store, etcetera), Target is leveraging mobile to help guests find the items they want and need even more quickly and easily.

targetTarget believes there are exciting opportunities for retailers to continue to connect with guests via the mobile channel.

Why mobile?
In addition to building brand awareness, promoting specific deals, and enhancing the convenience of the shopping experience, Target’s mobile channel helps it connect with current and prospective guests who prefer to research and purchase gifts online and who like to receive communication about the latest Target deals on their mobile phone.

Additionally, Target strives to connect with current and prospective mobile guests in a way that’s reflective of their wants and needs.

Instead of focusing on one specific demographic, Target is committed to creating an experience that is useful and relevant to mobile users at all ends of the mobile spectrum – from guests who are looking for basic, straightforward features to those who are well-versed in the capabilities of mobile devices and are looking for more advanced applications.

SMS Club
Guests can sign up to receive a text alert or an email when the latest Weekly Ad is available for viewing on and when Daily Deals are made available on the Web site.

Guests can also sign up to receive Daily Deals updates via Twitter by following Target at

Mobile holiday marketing
This year, Target enhanced and expanded its mobile features to make our guests’ holiday shopping experience easier and more convenient.

In addition to extending its mobile features, Target launched mobile access to “Christmas at Target” tools, including Checklists, Merry Planner Calendar, Perfect Gift Pairings, Target Christmas Videos and Gift Finder. Guests can also opt-in for holiday-planning text alerts.

Guests can use their phone to view, manage, and update their TargetLists and registries.

TargetLists enables gift recipients to share their wish lists and offers gift givers a turnkey way to locate and purchase gifts that are “just right.”

Accessible through the mobile Web site, this feature was made available on the Target applicaion for iPhone in November 2009.

Those guests who need a little more help finding the right gift fast can use Gift Finder on the Target application for iPhone.

This feature categorizes gift ideas by interest, recipient or price to help guests find the perfect gift and stay within their budget during the holidays.

Find a Store lets guests look up store hours and directions to the nearest Target store by entering their location or using the GPS on their iPhone.

Find it at a Target Store allows guests to check specific item availability and aisle location from their mobile phone.

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Giselle Tsirulnik is senior editor at Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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