A Q&A With Tamara Pattison, Chief Marketing and Information Officer, BevMo!
Tamara Pattison, chief marketing and information officer at BevMo!, a leading alcoholic specialty beverage retailer, recently spoke with Total Retail regarding the company's mobile app strategy as well as its focus on omnichannel. Here's the exclusive interview:
Total Retail: Tell us about BevMo! Who are BevMo’s typical customers, and how are they shopping?
Tamara Pattison: BevMo! is a specialty beverage retailer that operates nearly 170 stores in the western United States. We aim to provide a uniquely friendly and welcoming environment, both in-store and online, for customers shopping all things beverage. Customers range from wine, spirits and beer enthusiasts to first-time buyers.
Our customers expect an elevated shopping experience — in-store, online and on their mobile devices. They also want a seamlessly integrated loyalty program so they can take advantage of personalized offers and coupons. Our customer doesn’t think about online, mobile and in-store as three different channels; instead, they think about it as one seamless journey while shopping with BevMo!
TR: Why did BevMo! decide to launch a mobile app? And when was it launched?
TP: We launched our homegrown mobile app in 2016 without native mobile commerce and it was well received at the time, but it became clear that customers were wanting more. Native mobile commerce became a must have to power adoption and growth. We wanted an app for customers to be able to seamlessly shop on their mobile devices and also for store associates to deliver a superior in-store experience. PredictSpring provided both without a long development timeline attached. We launched the new BevMo! mobile app and Store Associate app in 2018, and we're seeing greater engagement and increased revenues. Associates quickly embraced the new solution and find it much easier to pick and stage product.
TR: Was the needs of consumers or sales associates the driving force behind building the app? Or both of their needs? Also, did you plan to launch one app that served both equally?
TP: We started our collaboration with PredictSpring initially focused on the customer, launching the BevMo! Mobile app. We soon realized the true power of the PredictSpring platform is combining the best of a mobile app with sales associate experience. Within weeks, we launched a second app that was exclusively focused on the sales associates providing a seamless omnichannel experience and connectivity between consumer and store associate.
BevMo! has a reputation for providing exceptional in-store experiences led by knowledgeable and fun sales associates. It’s one of our greatest strengths. By building a bridge between online customers and sales associates, we’ve been able to extend that great experience seamlessly to the mobile shopping environment and also bring online shoppers in-store to encourage engagement and additional purchases. There's no online vs. in-store shopper anymore. They are one and the same.
TR: Can you tell us about some of the features of the consumer app?
TP: Our customers love the buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) option. Being able to click and collect brings mobile app shoppers added convenience, as they can purchase products from anywhere, at any time, and then pick up the order at their local BevMo! store at a time that works for them. BevMo! customers are also using this method as a search feature to locate and reserve higher-priced items.
The app also connects to BevMo!’s network of nearly 170 stores and accesses real-time store inventory data, ensuring that users are shown accurate details about item availability whenever they browse the app. During the holidays, BevMo! provides a seasonal gift guide that allows consumers to discover new products through the app and make purchases for in-store pickup. ClubBev! members can also access loyalty rewards and coupons seamlessly from within the new app.
TR: And what about the features for the store associate app?
TP: Orders are seamlessly sent to the store associate app. Associates can then pick and pack orders to prepare them for in-store pickup. Once the order is ready for pickup, the store associate taps a button to trigger an email notification to the customer letting them know their order is ready for pickup. The app also digitally captures the receipt, customer order details, and signature. Store associates can also use it to easily refund orders placed via mobile shopping app with a few simple steps. By encouraging free in-store pickup, the app is driving customer traffic to stores, providing additional sales opportunities for associates.
TR: Do you have any measurable return on investment you can point to since launching the apps?
TP: We're finding that shoppers who are using the BevMo! app are often searching for products and want to ensure they're available at their preferred store before they make a purchase. This has resulted in a much higher average order value across the board. Store associates love that they can quickly and easily fulfill and manage order collection all in one app. They're more productive and able to offer a more personalized, seamless experience for the customers they serve. We estimate this has resulted in higher order volume and average order value, as well as a marked improvement in store associate productivity and accuracy in fulfilling BOPIS orders.
TR: Can you give our readers some best practices around building an omnichannel experience?
TP: We also appreciated that we were able to tap into the PredictSpring CMS, which fast-tracked new features on our consumer and store associate apps that would have otherwise needed to be built in-house. As we embarked on this initiative, we were also sure to include important decision makers, including board members, who were able to see firsthand the strategic benefit of overhauling the mobile app and transforming it into a more robust sales channel. We also saw the benefit of developing a separate store associate app that worked in conjunction with the native mobile app, providing a true omnichannel experience for our customers.