Macy's overhauls mobile app in face of rising consumer expectations

| by Elliot Maras
Macy's overhauls mobile app in face of rising consumer expectations

Photo courtesy of Macy's.

Retailers are recognizing the need to integrate the digital with the physical to meet the needs of today's technologically savvy and discriminating consumer and Macy's isn't getting left behind.

Speaking at the ShopTalk conference in Las Vegas, Macy's CEO and Chairman Jeff Gennette outlined a host of changes the retailer is implementing as part of a focus on customer personalization, including mobile checkout, a virtual reality in-store furniture design experience and more exclusive fashion offerings.

During a keynote presentation at the Sand's Exposition Center, Gennette acknowledged that Macy's shared in retail's setbacks in 2015 and 2016, and that the company spent much of 2017 rebooting. The company undertook what Gennette calls a forensic mapping of the customer's journey.

"We had created major pain points throughout the journey," he said. The company broke down the customer's journey and came up with a plan called the North Star Strategy in 2017. 

Research indicated Macy's target customer is fashion conscious, spontaneous, adventurous, optimistic, social and romantic, Gennette said. These were important customer insights.

"We're not in the commodity business. We're in the experience business," he said.

New focus on personalization

The company is now focused on improving its personalization and redesigning its online and mobile offerings this year, he said. The Macy's customer has provided enough information about herself for the company to deliver a more customized experience.

Mobile Checkout, powered by the Macy's app and designed to speed the in-store checkout process, will be introduced to all full-line stores by the end of this year.

Available for iOS and Android devices, Mobile Checkout leverages the app's in-store mode to power the self-service feature. After downloading the free app, customers can browse the assortment and scan items they wish to purchase using their phone's camera and the app's built-in scanner.

As part of the company's ongoing price simplification strategy, the app will allow customers to apply offers and rewards to eligible purchases. Once ready to check out, shoppers can pay via the app with a pre-registered credit card. They can then have the purchases verified at special mobile checkout counters where store associates will remove security tags and bag the items. 

VR furniture experience

Macy's is also scaling its successful VR furniture pilot to an additional 60 locations. The VR experience allows customers to design and experience the interior of a room for which they are purchasing furnishings.

The 3D furniture experience allows customers to place furnishings in a virtual room they design using a tablet. Shoppers map out the dimensions and shape of the room, then select the items they want from Macy's furniture assortment and place them in the room. Customers can refine the design as needed and test it out virtually by stepping into the room, using VR headsets that allow them to walk around the furnishings.

Experimentation has found that VR increases transaction size, Gennette said. It also allows a wider assortment of furniture to be displayed in less space. 

The expansion is scheduled to be completed by fall 2018 and will cover a significant portion of Macy's largest furniture departments.

Additionally, an augmented reality experience in furniture shopping, also powered by Marxent's 3D Cloud, will be introduced to the Macy's app starting next month, allowing customers to virtually place Macy's furniture products in their actual living spaces.

"We think of the Macy's app as a key we hand to our customers, a key that allows them to unlock an enhanced shopping experience — a world of possibilities," Gennette said in a press release on the announcements. "With this powerful tool in hand, we give them the opportunity to engage with us on their terms. And we keep adding exciting new features to it based on what they tell us."

Exclusive offerings

The company will also add exclusive offerings in private label, national brand and limited edition "capsule collections," Gennette said in the keynote. They will double the online assortment for vendor direct offers.

When the company gets the fashion right, the customer will pay more for it, he said.

Echoing the convention's widespread observation about the importance of integrating physical with digital retailing, Gennette noted: "We're also committed to getting brick and mortar back to growth."  

The company is also experimenting with pickup and delivery.

Changes that prove successful in 2018 will be rolled out chainwide in 2019, Gennette added.

Topics: Handsets / Devices, In-App Payments, POS, Retail

Companies: Macy's

Elliot Maras

Elliot Maras is the editor of and

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