ChargeItSpot at Neiman Marcus in Chicago

Cell phones have become an increasingly relevant component of the shopper journey, and Neiman Marcus is embracing that connection. But it’s not only by encouraging retail shoppers to check out using its mobile wallet or by browsing its visual search app.

Starting today, the Dallas-based retailer will begin installing mobile phone charging stations in store locations nationwide. By September, 30 of the brand’s 42 locations will offer the service.

The free stations were made by Philadelphia-based ChargeItSpot and designed to match the store aesthetic. Neiman Marcus Group chief marketing officer Wanda Gierhart said initial testing of the feature came to Bergdorf Goodman in 2014 and to Neiman Marcus in 2015, with a “very robust” response.

“We are always trying to anticipate the needs of our customers, and you’re always out shopping and the first thing is your phone is dead,” Gierhart said. “Superior customer service starts with a great overall experience.”

A customer can plug in a mobile phone in one of the eight lockers, which locks using a user’s mobile number. The service is free, but it’s also an opportunity for Neiman Marcus to collect a shopper’s email address. This, she said, makes it a great marketing touch-point.

ChargeItSpot founder and chief executive officer Douglas Baldasare said he applauds the retailer’s efforts to not only improve the customer experience but to educate its store associates in new technology. “One thing I think Neiman’s does is have their associates engage with tech. Every associate has an iPhone and is tapped into what is happening in technology in stores,” he said. “So many stores get new technologies and don’t know how to digest it or introduce it to the customer.”

Neiman Marcus Group, which operates Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Last Call and more, has introduced a number of tech projects recently. Last year, it expanded its MemoryMirrors, which capture images of the customer trying on clothes, to 15 of its locations. It also brought interactive retail tables, which let customers search its entire inventory, to three in-store shoe salons. Each project was created with the Neiman Marcus Innovation Lab, called iLab, which was created three years ago in Dallas.

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