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Urban Outfitters exec says immersion, engagement are mobile challenges

August 14, 2013

Urban Outfitter's mobile site

Urban Outfitters mobile site

PHILADELPHIA – An Urban Outfitters executive at eTail East acknowledged that the company’s mobile efforts are good from a tactical experience, but the company still has a ways to go in creating compelling mobile experiences.

Executives from Macy’s, Urban Outfitters and Yext spoke about the challenges and programs that they are using to bridge the gap between online and bricks-and-mortar stores during “The Integration of Digital And Bricks To Create Effective Omni-Channel Customer Experiences” session. The panel was moderated by Jason Goldberg, vice president of strategy at Razorfish, New York.

“I think our mobile experience right now is very good from a tactical perspective, and it’s getting better because we’re still investing in a lot of places where we’re not as optimized as we would like to be on a smartphone,” said Holly Devine, executive director of planning at Urban Outfitters, Philadelphia.

“I think the challenge we’re still working with is how to provide more of that engagement and immersion factor because especially when you are looking at a tiny, tiny device, how do you inspire them and how do you create an engaging experience, and I don’t think we’ve solved that yet,” she said.

“I think we’ll be continuing to work on that in years to come of constantly evolving and constantly improving and constantly meeting them where they are.”

Omnichannel shopping
Similar to other retailers, Urban Outfitters is embracing an omnichannel approach to marketing that is aimed at interacting with consumers regardless of where they are.

Despite the fact that consumers are armed with more mobile devices than ever before, privacy is still an issue for retailers looking to sync up multiple platforms, according to Ms. Devine.

Urban Outfitters also equips individual stores with local resources to create content. The idea is to empower employees as local store owners and as a way to fuel content for the brand.

The eTail East panel

When it comes to data, getting a holistic view of a customer is crucial for Urban Outfitters.

“I think it’s interesting because internally I think we’ve struggled with perceptions of who the customer is and that we have different customers, and we don’t,” Ms. Devine said.

“The customer engages with the brand anyway he, she wants and we have to meet them there,” she said.

Urban Outfitters’ iPhone app

Owning the consumer
Cross-channel attribution is still a major challenges for retailers, which often leads to teams working internally cross-department.

Take Macy’s for example.

The brand uses several different types of mobile mediums to measure the impact of online from in-store.

However, it can also be difficult for marketers to line up pieces of data to send out the type of tailored, targeted offers that retailers want to be able to do.

“We’ve actually made a ton of progress there with text enter-to-win with in-store signage only and seeing how that works, or putting QR codes in direct mail pieces has been another great way to create a bridge that is seamless, fast, engaging and fun for the customer to get the end goal that we all want, which is to engage with us on both channels,” said Serena Potter, general vice president of marketing strategy at Macy’, New York.

Final Take

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