Martine Reardon

In September, the department store is launching a "significantly evolved" app with features including fashion reviews, quick response codes, coupons and more.

Martine Reardon may put on the wrong shoes or forget her purse in the morning, but one thing she always has on her is her BlackBerry.

This story first appeared in the June 15, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“I can’t let it out of my hands,” said Reardon, Macy’s executive vice president of marketing and advertising, as she underscored the booming popularity of mobile communications and how Macy’s is embracing the technology.

“Mobile is clearly a very important part of a consumer’s life, and a marketer’s life.…There are 300 million mobile subscriptions projected by the end of 2011,” said Reardon, adding that two to four years ago, it was less than half that.

Mobile devices and tablets have surpassed the usage of desktops and notebooks and “will become even more important from the point of view of a brand like Macy’s because it enables you to share that social space and shopping space at the same time.”

Macy’s in September will launch a “significantly evolved app with all improved functionality” for fashion reviews, quick response codes, coupons and account management capabilities, Reardon said. However, “the biggest thing we have been working on in the mobile space for the last seven months is the Backstage Pass and QR code,” which enables consumers to view on their mobile devices previews of what’s behind the scenes at Macy’s, whether it’s how the Thanksgiving Day Parade or the Fourth of July Fireworks are put together, how the buyers operate, or short videos with designers talking products, trends or fashion philosophy. It’s already apparent in Macy’s stores and seen in Bobbi Brown, Tommy Hilfiger, Martha Stewart, Rachel Roy, Sean John and Bar III private label areas where there are big red stars on displays that consumers scan with the QR reader on their smart phones to unlock a video.

“Bobbi Brown was the number-one downloaded video in the spring,” Reardon said. “Women want to learn how to feel more beautiful.”

Macy’s is also utilizing location-based services — Foursquare, Facebook Places, Google Check-In and Shopkick — to understand which customers prefer which services. Reardon said Macy’s has to be “pretty prescriptive of how we choose to put our messaging out and what mediums will carry that messaging.”

But Reardon sounded certain that Macy’s ad spend on mobile, currently about 18.7 percent of the budget, will grow in the next few months and years, based on the fact that individuals spend 25 percent of their time on mobile, as opposed to viewing other mediums.

“We have really tried to figure out where the role of digital and mobile generally plays within our total media mix,” Reardon said, explaining that it’s a challenging task considering Macy’s broad consumer base. “Back in 2007, there was really very little digital coming out of retail brands, particularly Macy’s. By 2014, it will become almost equal to other very important mediums. That’s really where the consumer is today and that’s [how] she wants to communicate.

“As we think about stores and Web sites, we really look at it as an omni-channel strategy. There isn’t a different strategy for the Web site and a different strategy for our stores,” Reardon said. “There are some differences that take place during the year, but for the most part we plan strategies together, and it’s mainly because our best customers today are truly omni-channel. They are visiting us more frequently. They give us a larger share of her wallet. She is shopping in-store, online and with mobile devices, and we have an opportunity to market to them with all of our touch points.”

From the mobile experience, “She wants customer reviews. She wants to manage her accounts. She wants to find a store in a city,” if she’s visiting from out of town. “She wants to know about promotions, events, coupons and savings,” said Reardon.

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