Macy’s Inc. is beefing up technology in time for the holiday season — with a little help from the social media giant Facebook.
The $25 billion retailer is advancing RFID, virtual reality and augmented reality to enhance the “omnichannel customer experience” and is also partnering with Facebook to introduce nearly 150 e-commerce brands to nine stores beginning early November.
The e-commerce brands will be housed in The Market @ Macy’s format at the nine stores.
A Macy’s executive told WWD that RFID technology now covers 80 percent of the products sold at the store. The company also said it’s introducing virtual reality and augmented reality to its furniture business and a “Beauty Playground” training program for associates to learn more about applying and helping customers with beauty products.
“Across the enterprise, new features are being introduced to make the Macy’s customer journey more convenient, efficient and fun,” the company said Monday.
The Market @ Macy’s was introduced earlier this year on the main floor of the Herald Square flagship in Manhattan and other major Macy stores. It’s a pop-up format providing emerging and established brands physical space for a fee for a limited time period while Macy’s takes care of putting up, taking down and running the space. Each Market brings a rotating selection of apparel, accessories, beauty, entertainment, decorative home, stationery, technology and gifts. Mobile and platforms like Facebook have opened the door for emerging brands to connect with shoppers digitally. The Market @ Macy’s partnership with Facebook will provide participating small businesses and e-commerce brands a Macy’s store environment during the holiday selling season. There will be 12 Market @ Macy’s formats inside Macy’s stores by November, from the current 10.
“Macy’s is focused on providing customers with fresh experiences, and we are always looking for new ways to engage our customers in-store, online and via our mobile app,” said Hal Lawton, president of Macy’s. “Our technology enhancements are practical applications that will engage our customers while also driving sales.”
Lawton added that investments being made “behind the scenes will enable our colleagues to give our customers the best shopping experience possible.”
Among the businesses coming to the Market @ Macy’s are Love Your Melon that sells hats and apparel to help fight pediatric cancer, and Charleston Gourmet Burger Company, which started from a backyard barbecue and has expanded to 50 states.
“There is nothing small about small business and Macy’s is helping to celebrate their stories,” said Michelle Klein, director of North America marketing at Facebook.
As previously announced, Macy’s has developed virtual and augmented reality-furniture shopping experiences in partnership with Marxent. By early November, the company expects to have VR for furniture at 69 stores.
Macy’s said Monday that VR-influenced furniture sales have increased the overall basket size by more than 60 percent versus non-VR furniture sales. The VR experience enables customers to visualize rooms in their homes with the addition of Macy’s furnishings and make better buying decisions. Macy’s also said that customers using their VR installations return less than 2 percent of their transactions. The technology also allows Macy’s to offer access to a larger furniture assortment in less space.
Macy’s also has technology so shoppers at home can use the Macy’s app for iOS on the iPhone 7 (and next year on Android phones) to see via their phones what rooms look like with selected Macy’s furniture. The user takes a picture of their room and adds furniture to the picture and can see how it works alongside furniture they already have. It’s an augmented reality experience called “Visualize Your Space.”
On the beauty floors, Macy’s is rolling out its virtual mirror technology that showcases more than 250 beauty products on in-store kiosks where customers can virtually try on beauty products from eye shadow to lipstick in a host of shades and other products. Macy’s has been testing this technology at 50 stores and will roll it out next year.
Macy’s is also testing a similar beauty feature on its mobile app so customers can try on lipsticks and share their virtual makeup pictures with friends and family for feedback. The augmented reality beauty initiative is expected to have expanded functionality next year.
In beauty, the company is employing the “Beauty Playground” to provide beauty advisers with enhanced training. The Beauty Playground is a tool that Macy’s beauty advisers use to learn more about Macy’s product assortment, seek additional training resources and also discover the latest beauty trends. The technology showcases tutorial videos and information from brand partners and influencers, as well as the tools to explore new techniques on their own.