NEW YORK — Macy’s Inc. keeps pumping up its omnichannel efforts.
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On Monday, the department store group unveiled a string of initiatives and technologies ranging from consumer-facing smart fitting rooms to operational innovations like radio frequency identification pilot programs.
“We had a lot going on in our company for several years on the subject of omnichannel growth and development,” said Terry J. Lundgren, chairman and chief executive officer of Macy’s Inc. “We recognize the consumer is starting the shopping experience on her phone more and more and doing research of where she wants to shop. They want to come into our stores and try on a dress or a shoe or touch a product. They may go home and buy it on their desktop.”
Lundgren said omnichannel is “becoming a bigger and bigger part of our business,” but that the company has stopped trying to break out channels “because we can’t distinguish any more what is a store sale or a mobile sale. It’s blurred. We know customers are online shopping and looking at specific items and we know that same customer used his or her Macy’s card to purchase the item in a store.
“We’ve been working on so many initiatives and listening to the customer,” Lundgren added. “The technology vendors are coming to us with their ideas and thoughts because we’re one of the premier omnichannel retailers.”
Among the items revealed Monday were:
• Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s will begin to use Apple Inc.’s new mobile payment system Apple Pay.
• The two chains are unveiling a new mobile wallet function.
• Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s will test same-day delivery.
• Macy’s has developed a new technology, Macy’s Image Search, at its Idea Lab in San Francisco.
Lundgren said the convenience of mobile payment at the point-of-sale is becoming increasingly interesting to customers, and Apple Pay provides an opportunity to further simplify the POS process. In addition, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s new mobile wallet allows shoppers to easily store and virtually access offers and coupons. The wallets are now available to customers with profiles on macys.com and/or bloomingdales.com. In November, the company’s mobile apps will add the wallet function to complete the omnichannel experience.
Same-day delivery will be piloted this fall at Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s starting with products purchased at macys.com, bloomingdales.com and on both brands’ mobile-enabled Web sites. Macy’s will offer same-day delivery to consumers in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New Jersey, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle and Washington. Bloomingdale’s will make same-day deliveries in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose, Calif. The deliveries will all be powered by Deliv, a national crowdsourced delivery network.
Buy online, pick up in store, originally piloted in fall 2013, was recently rolled out to all Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s stores nationwide.
As for Macy’s Image Search and the Idea Lab, Lundgren said, “macys.com and all of our technology experts and developers are based in San Francisco. We prefer that, because we’re competing with Silicon Valley for talent. We look for the organization to submit ideas for problems that need solving and give them to the Idea Lab. We regularly identify challenges we would like to overcome. One of them was this fantastic Macy’s Image Search. It solves the challenge of somebody who sees a product they like on a person or in a magazine, but it’s not identified and they don’t know how to go about finding it. We have a number of these projects going on inside our Idea Lab, but they’re not quite ready for prime time. It’s a fantastic process of great brains working together.”
Macy’s has been trying to drill down to get more specific and detailed information about what customers want. “We started this trend several years ago when we created the My Macy’s organization,” the ceo said. “In 60 cities all over the country we have people guiding our purchase behavior in local markets in terms of weight of fabric, colors and styles. We’re taking that down to a level of individual preference not just market preference. By capturing the information that you want us to know about you, we can better serve you by not sending you junk e-mail and sending you things you’re most interested in.”
Tested last year at Macy’s flagships in New York and San Francisco, Macy’s and Shopkick will expand the use of Shopkick’s ShopBeacon technology to all Macy’s stores. ShopBeacon, an enhanced mobile location technology, will be placed in various departments at Macy’s, allowing Shopkick app users to get more personalized deals, discounts, recommendations and rewards. ShopBeacon’s installation should be finished this fall, with activation beginning soon after.
Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s have both launched new mobile shopping apps for iOS and Android. Enhanced navigation allows customers to easily and quickly move between features, reach desired products with fewer clicks and check-out more quickly.
“We are a multifaceted retailer with stores, technology, Internet capability and mobile access that come together for our customers,” Lundgren said. “They are at the center of all our decisions, and our ongoing research and development will continue to help us understand how to personally engage with them.”
RFID technology began rolling out in 2011. In recent omnichannel pilots in fashion categories such as social dresses, men’s sport coats and men’s slacks, Macy’s documented RFID’s ability to significantly improve sales, gross margins and markdowns. Additional rollout of RFID tagging in fashion categories is planned for 2015.
Macys.com will take the pages of its fall fashion direct-mail catalogue and transform them into a virtual publication. Macy’s Digital Edition will leverage the functionality of the tablet experience to introduce customers to an enhanced catalogue featuring exclusive editorial content, fashion advice, closer looks at products and selected product suggestions. Available at macys.com/digitaledition, the virtual guides will allow shoppers to create new outfits using the Style Mixer feature.
Macy’s is piloting a new generation of enhanced handheld point-of-sale devices and tablets in select locations that will allow sales associates to more effectively engage with customers. Connect@Macy’s Centers have increased staffing to help consumers with everything from picking up online orders to styling advice. In pilot stores, customers can use electronic kiosks and large interactive “look book” displays, and purchase on mobile devices. In addition, Bloomingdale’s smart fitting rooms in Century City, San Francisco and Palo Alto, Calif.; Short Hills, N.J., and Garden City, N.Y., feature wall-mounted tablets where sales associates and customers can scan items to get more information. Shoppers can tap a button to call for assistance.
“We believe that the stores are an advantage versus an online-only company,” Lundgren said. “That personal touch of a professional associate who is there to help you or to offer advice is a really an important differentiator to the technology we’re now providing in fitting rooms. The technology is very helpful in terms of inventory and how to pull a whole look together and to finding inventories, but the personal touch is always welcome.”
“The next step,” said Lundgren, “is already what we’ve been touching on. Customers want a sophisticated company to service them by knowing what they’re looking for. And that’s a great deal of the work we’re doing with the technology companies.”