Macy's puts mobile first, tests Macy's Go

Tuscon, Ariz.—"We are media agnostic," announced Macy's Chief Marketing Officer, Martine Reardon. "We want to capture the customer everywhere that she is."

Chances are, that shopper is mostly on his or her smartphone.

Speaking during the University of Arizona's Global Retailing Conference, Reardon outlined the many ways Macy's (NYSE:M) is using mobile to meet shoppers. Macy's has gone from creating websites and digital content with the desktop in mind to starting with mobile first. "Mobile is the best communication effort for our customer," she said. "We think mobile first."

The Macy's app is at the center of this effort and includes features that allow shoppers to scan and send product information, browse additional colors and sizes, and check out directly from the app. The app was recently updated to sort items by proximity.

Image search lets users take a photo of anything and search Macy's inventory for an identical or similar item. "We put it in the app store and didn't tell anyone," said Reardon, adding that it wasn't branded Macy's until after it was tested and tweaked. "Now it's in our app and one of the best assets."

Macy's is also testing beacons. "We are trying to do the same thing [in mobile] as online and in stores, to target [the customer] with more contextually relevant content," she said. "When the app opens, we can see where [the customer] is in the store. We're in the early stages of beta testing."

Like many retailers, mobile is a key tool being leveraged to attract younger shoppers. "We're trying desperately to convince [millennials] that we're cool, so we make sure that the content we're serving on social [media] is relevant," Reardon said.

To that end, Macy's has utlized social polling: asking users on Facebook and Twitter for opinions on clothing and accessories. "We ask for their opinion on outfits and new trends," she said. "It's a fun way to engage that millennial consumer."

Macy's app users participate at three times the industry average in their use of the retailer's polling feature.

Macy's is also using clickable ads on Instagram. "That's an important channel for us and we're thinking about it differently," Reardon said. 'We're testing that now."

And don't forget snapchat. The retailer is also taking advantage of Snapchat's Discover feature that sends content to users in a daily snap.

Facebook continues to be a strong medium for Macy's, and Twitter's Periscope now allows the retailer to incorporate live video in its Twitter feed.

But the most recent test—Macy's Go—is perhaps the most unusual. The program catalogues the entire inventory available in a compressed backroom at store locations. A shopper can choose items from her app while in the store, selecting a variety of sizes and colors. That order is sent to an associate in the room that then pulls the items and sends them to the dressing room through a chute.

Shoppers are also given the opportunity to use an iPad to choose additional items when trying on garments in the fitting room. Selected items are then delivered to the shopper through a chute. "We're nine weeks in and testing [this] through," said Reardon. "And I think it's going to be one of the most innovative things we do."

Related stories:
Macy's updates app to sort items by proximity
Macy's to buy Bluemercury for $200M
Macy's to launch wearables in 2015
Macy's deploys beacons, expands mobile initiatives
Macy's advances ominichannel strategy with same-day delivery

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