Macys Pushing Its Merged Channel Efforts

Macys went out of its way on Monday (Dec. 8) to tout to the world how much it embraces merged channel. The question, though, is why did they bother?

The $26 billion owner of the 850-store Macys and Bloomingdale's chains attributed comments to their most senior exec that the two brands' customers "increasingly are multi-channel consumers" and that they have done various enhancements to their online and physical elements.

It's an odd position for Macy's to take. They're hardly at the cutting edge of this movement (Borders would have a better argument there) and, indeed, their spokesperson on the issue couldn't name a single merged channel feature they offer that isn't already offered by multiple rivals.

A story this week from InternetRetailer gives a hint as to the motivation, when it reported that while Macy's is getting beaten up in total revenue and comparable store sales, "it's online sales grew by 22.7 percent in the third quarter."

Macy's statement at least called it straight when it didn't try and paint its merged channel efforts as anything new, even referring to the changes in a news release as "enhancements to macys.com over the past several years." The features were mostly the ability to purchase Web products from in-store POS stations and the ability to check store inventory from their Web site.

The inventory feature's information is sufficiently vague to account for missing product, said Jim Sluzewski, the Macy's VP for corporate communications. "We aren't pinpoint precise about" what the in-store inventory is when communicating with customers, he said, adding that the inventory is "realtime data" but later clarifying that it really wasn't realtime but more frequent than monthly.

The availability doesn't show a specific number, but says whether the item is generally available or has "limited availability."

Sluzewski said Macy's stats show that when consumers click on an item—even if they don't place it in a cart—10 percent of them will purchase that item within 10 days.

At the moment, Macy's is contented to stick with online and offline and to not explore other merged channel elements, Sluzewski said. Asked about mobile, for example, he said that Macy's was "looking at it but has taken no steps" beyond that.

Sluzewski also confirmed that Bloomingdales.com crashed on Cyber Monday but wouldn't offer any details, beyond that it was "a short outage" caused by a "systems issue."

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