Capitalizing on Mobile During the Holidays
By Len Shneyder, Senior Marketing Manager, OtherLevels
The numbers are out and they don’t lie: Almost 40% of all online traffic during Black Friday was driven by mobile devices. That figure is up 34% from the previous year, according to IBM’s Holiday Benchmark. But what’s more impressive than that is that nearly one-fifth of all online sales during the holiday shopping bonanza came from mobile devices.
What do these numbers mean? They mean that companies big and small have taken advantage of the devices in shoppers’ pockets and created a funnel that leads from browsing to buying in as few steps as possible. What makes this seamless journey possible? In a word, data.
Mobile devices yield reams of behavioral data, and the most successful and sophisticated brands out there are leveraging this information to better communicate with their customers. The rapid rise in the retail sector of mobile shopping is evidence of the application of good data, the creation of smart apps and launching of mobile-first campaigns to drive conversions. In a sense, the retail sector is catching up to mobile games and other sectors that have already tackled the anonymity of mobile device users.
Mobile push preempting the mad dash
According to IBM’s findings, mobile push notifications grew around 37%, in line with the rise in mobile traffic. Even more interesting is that the majority of push notifications were sent on Thanksgiving, the day before Black Friday. With a 23% rise in app downloads, retailers have a wide new audience of mobile users who have potentially opted in to receive push notifications.
Most mobile users who download an app never log into the app, opting instead to use it anonymously; and most retailers don’t force registration in the app unless someone makes a purchase. For all intents and purposes, these new users are anonymous. Marketers don’t know who they are and can’t always connect them to existing customer profiles until they purchase something. But this isn’t necessarily an obstacle.
Mobile apps give marketers unprecedented information on how customers use their devices. Now that we’ve entered the cycle of “echo Monday” promotions, it’s important to view the anonymous audience based on recency and frequency of usage. Users who have just downloaded an app should be gently nudged to return to the app. Carefully timed communications arriving within reasonable delivery windows will help boost app retention and usage. Pushing users to convert too quickly is equivalent to instant list fatigue. Mobile users can easily opt out of push notifications, so it’s important to exercise caution.
By carefully examining mobile app usage, marketers can determine windows of high engagement. For instance, evenings after work when someone is walking home and passing a store, during the morning commute or at lunchtime. These windows to browsing behaviors represent unique segments that should be applied to both anonymous and known users. The immediacy of mobile represents a new paradigm for marketing; it’s not about a regular broadcast cadence X times per week. Mobile is about creating smaller segments with matching characteristics that can be addressed through both broadcast and event-based messaging at intervals that are irregular but can still be tracked and measured through smart analysis of usage data.
The customer will tell you which channel to use
For companies that require app downloaders to register or have captured a significant number of registrations that can be linked to activity in other channels such as web and email, now is the time to carefully examine channel effectiveness: which channel drives the most views, the deepest level of viewing (e.g., how many page views vs. how deep they go into the app) and how many times an email is opened on a particular device. Further dimensions can and should include a comparison to abandoned shopping carts on mobile compared to the Web — where is the drop off in the funnel happening and is there a channel or platform on which it isn’t happening as readily?
By analyzing channel-specific engagement, marketers can make smarter decisions and refine communications that cater to users’ specific needs and preferred channels. There’s no sense in sending 10 emails a week to someone using a mobile app; they can have a richer and more immediate experience by receiving a push with deep links to a specific app page than by opening an email, hitting a mobile website and then reopening the app. If a hyper rich experience is necessary then push notifications can be leveraged to drive mobile users to their app inbox and receive a rich message experience complete with HTML, graphics, etc.
Mobile will continue to grow and offer new, exciting possibilities as the handsets we all rely on become more sophisticated and feature-rich. For marketers, the most important takeaway from this holiday season’s record-setting mobile trends is this: mobile is not a broadcast channel. Success in mobile marketing and messaging can only happen through the careful application of analytics you’re already using for email, direct mail, web and other channels. Find the tools and approach mobile with the same rigor you apply in every other part of your digital marketing.
Designing for Outlet versus Traditional Stores
By Tricia Downing, VP, FRCH Design Worldwide
Many retailers today are looking to bolster profits by offering merchandise outside of traditional locations. Well-known brands such as Gap, J. Crew and Disney all have been on the outlet side of retail for several years. Opening an outlet store, with its lower overhead costs, may seem like an obvious decision. For an outlet to be successful, though, its marketing mission must be well understood from the start. Plus, there are the practical considerations of different space constraints, new merchandise and more. What are the key design issues in getting an outlet store right?
Don’t go to outlets for the sake of going to outlets
In opening an outlet, you must have a strategy. Many see outlets as a salve for falling sales at traditional stores. As a retailer, you need to first think carefully about what you want your off-mall store to accomplish and a clear understanding of how to get there.
There are several key questions to ask before embarking on developing an outlet store including:
- Is it to be a true factory outlet, or just a clearance center? Will you be manufacturing separate product lines specifically for the outlet? For example, retailers like Gap have developed completely separate lines of merchandise for their factory stores, similar in design to the products in their mall-based stores, but at a lower price point.
- Who are your target shoppers– where will they shop and how much are they willing to spend? Are you looking to attract a whole new demographic or simply offer a new format for your current customer? Remember that an outlet may be a new channel for new shoppers, not just a shift in venue for the usual clientele. For example, luxury stores such as Saks may open an Off 5th location in a region where there are no Saks department stores, and vice versa. They determine the store format based upon the demographics of the region and their growth plans.
- How will you ensure that the new outlet spaces do not cannibalize your brand, or at least, how do you minimize cannibalization?
See your outlet as a completely different channel from the traditional storefront. Knowing your outlet’s unique objective is crucial as it affects design decisions.
Design still matters
Careful store planning & design for outlet spaces is becoming the norm. No longer are outlet stores afterthoughts. Many such spaces today feel as if they could fit in any shopping center across the country. The main endeavor in outlet design is to balance the price point with the fixtures and finishes while working within the constraints of the location.
Outlets present unique design challenges. When creating a traditional store, you design from the storefront all the way through to the back of house. There is a retail story that covers the entire store. In outlet locations, there is typically less control of the design at the storefront; typically, you add a storefront sign and that’s as much design differentiation as you can get at the exterior. How, then, can you continue to provide at least some of the customer experience you’ve worked so hard to develop at your traditional stores?
Also, outlets today are a completely different animal than they were even 10 years ago. The centers are being designed as entertainment destinations, with an eye to keeping the customer there all day, or longer. Once there, the customer is a captive audience, but this customer is a savvier, more sophisticated shopper than ever before. It’s important that the design of the store cater to the needs of this shopper and create an in-store experience that is unique, but on-brand.
Pick and choose, to uphold the brand
To design outlets in synch with your traditional stores, it’s important to consider which elements of the store design are central to the over-arching brand and which elements are specific to format. You may be able to economize on fixtures and finishes but still replicate your brand’s most characteristic design features while keeping the customer journey familiar.
Ask yourself, in the standard brick and mortar store, what is mission critical to your brand? Key elements to consider might be:
3) Other design elements — signature colors or finishes
4) In-store technology such as monitors or point-of-sale tools
5) Lighting design
6) Floor and perimeter fixtures
You don’t have to sacrifice design sensitivity to hit a lower construction cost. You can focus on one or two focals, be it a special fixture at the entry or accent lighting at the cashwrap, and shave costs elsewhere. Retailers such as J. Crew or Disney, for instance, opt for a different lighting package and a level of finish in their outlet stores.
Generally, actual construction costs won’t vary considerably from the mall to the outlet. While not having to provide a storefront will reduce costs, the largest savings will be gained by having an overall simpler level of finish and less detail than traditional stores. Using less expensive lighting and fixture packages as well will also cut costs yet not take away from the outlet’s merchandise.
Treating an outlet as a new venture with goals and considerations quite distinct from its parent store will help you and your creative team make intelligent decisions regarding its design. Determining your brand’s most critical identifying features will allow you to keep the customer journey recognizable even as you economize on less vital elements such as fixtures, finish and lighting.
Tricia Downing is VP of FRCH Design Worldwide, Cincinnati, an international architecture and design firm.
Tracking Tuesday with new UPS’ Kindle app
UPS expects to accommodate more than 78 million online tracking requests on Tuesday, December 17 thanks in part to new mobile capabilities that offer shoppers unprecedented supply chain visibility.
To cope with the volume on UPS peak package tracking day, an increasing percentage of which is originating from mobile devices, UPS introduced an app for Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets. The new UPS app for Amazon’s Kindle Fire family allows customers to track and ship their packages, find nearby The UPS Store locations and manage shipments through UPS My Choice service, which enables consumers to reroute and reschedule their shipments for more convenient delivery. One of the newest features available for all UPS Mobile apps, including the Kindle Fire app, allows customers to log in using their Facebook account credentials, giving them one less username and password to remember.
“Residential deliveries account for more than 40% of our total U.S. volume,” said Alan Gershenhorn, chief sales, marketing and strategy officer for UPS. “There is growing consumer demand for both online shopping platforms and technologies like the new Amazon Kindle Fire UPS app, which we have designed to provide our customers with added accessibility, whether they are looking for the nearest The UPS Store or checking to be sure a much-anticipated holiday gift arrives in time.”
“We are thrilled that UPS has brought its popular app to the Amazon Appstore for use on the full line-up of Kindle Fire tablets,” said Aaron Rubenson, director of Amazon Appstore. “At Amazon, we know that customers love to purchase products online and want fast, accurate information when tracking their purchases.”