If you’re a skeptic like me, all of the talk of beacons in retail stores sounds a little too pie-in-the-sky. Beacons, as you probably know by now, are devices that communicate with shoppers’ smartphones in the hopes of improving their in-store shopping experiences. When placed in-store, beacons use Bluetooth technology to detect nearby smartphones and send them ads, coupons or supplementary product information.
Department store chain Barneys New York created an iPad-specific application to further bring its in-store experience into the digital space. Barneys’ app combines its content site The Window with online shopping to give consumers a rounded impression of the retailer. More retailers are choosing to have their apps connect consumers with the store through more than just e-commerce by providing easy links to content and customer service. "Form factor is incredibly important on mobile," said Matthew Woolsey, executive vice president digital, Barneys New York.
Men's Wearhouse has launched an omnichannel inventory program that enables employees to better serve customers via a new mobile application. The "Find-It" app will let Men's Wearhouse employees check inventory levels across the retailer's network and add an item to a customer's order regardless of its location. The retailer will also deploy iPads in more than 650 of its locations so that employees can access the app.
Shareable content, enhanced product images, live chat and improved search capabilities are among the key changes introduced Tuesday morning to the Toysrus.com and Babiesrus.com websites. The sites are said to have a fresh design and layout, revamped navigation, and new features to help everyone from deal seekers to last-minute shoppers easily discover savings and information about the company's offerings. In addition, the sites have introduced social shopping functionality, which allows visitors to organize their most-wanted items in shareable toy and baby boards, while also viewing the most popular and trending products on the sites.
Macy's continues its run as a leader in mobile by adapting a favored smartphone activity — sharing photos — for its signature annual holiday campaign. Through Dec. 7, consumers who post a photo or video of themselves mailing a letter to Santa from inside a Macy's store using the hashtag #MacysBelieve will have chance to be included in a Macy's television commercial. The mobile social strategy will help Macy's drive word-of-mouth for the campaign as well as foot traffic into its stores.
Call it a tool of engagement. The MyLowe's smartphone app is making relationship-building a do-it-yourself (DIY) project. And like many things DIY, this can be very advantageous. The app from the home improvement chain Lowe's enables customers to look up their own purchase history and DIY projects based on data through the 7 million-member MyLowe's program. Introduced as an online feature in 2011 and later expanded to mobile, the app has been empowering consumers to check their shopping behaviors long before Acxiom made headlines by enabling consumers to review their data collected by marketers.
Under Armour knows some of the best ideas are beyond its Baltimore campus waiting to be discovered, so the company is opening its doors to more entrepreneurs with innovative concepts for future products. The sportswear maker will begin hosting innovation challenges twice a year — instead of annually — for entrepreneurs outside Under Armour to suggest ideas for new innovations the company can incorporate in future product designs. Under Armour began holding the contests annually three years ago, and the results of the first challenge will hit the market in 2014.
According to a recent survey conducted by Compuware, global consumers prefer native mobile apps over mobile websites, primarily because native apps are perceived as being more convenient, faster and easier to navigate. However, if a mobile app fails to work fast and reliably the first time, up to 79 percent of end users will retry it only once or twice before giving up on the app. It's quite clear that users won't tolerate problematic mobile apps.