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Neiman Marcus testing personal shopping assistant app

BY Marianne Wilson

Dallas — Neiman Marcus is testing a new iPhone-only app that allows customers to interact more directly with sales associates. The new app, called NM Service, is being tested in four stores this spring – Dallas;San Francisco; Austin, Texas; and Palo Alto, Calif.

Developed by Signature, NM Service has two interfaces: one for customers and one for sales associates. Each is designed to provide a more personal, mobile shopping experience for the Neiman Marcus customer.

The customer downloads the app from iTunes and opts into the service. In-store location sensors are installed at key entry points throughout the store. If a customer with the app loaded passes within range, the sensor automatically prompts NM Service to act.

Once the app is engaged, customers will be alerted as to which of their preferred sales associates are currently in the store, as well as upcoming store events, new product arrivals and sales, and emerging fashion trends.

Customers can also mark favorite products, which will automatically be visible to the customer’s sales associates. The app allows customers to easily make appointments or leave messages for associates. In addition, they will be able to scan QR codes on signs throughout the store to unlock the latest trends and product information directly on his or her phone.

From a sales associate’s perspective, NM Service allows associates to better serve customer needs. The app provides associates with easy access to informative details such as Neiman Marcus store and neimanmarcus.com purchase history and direct access to a customer’s new favorite items. Notifications automatically alert sales associates when their customer arrives in a store and provides a Facebook photograph so the customer can be easily recognized.

“The NM Service App allows us to take our service philosophy into the digital era. We look forward to using this cutting edge technology to make our Client-Sales Associate relationship even stronger, and further enhancing the Neiman Marcus shopping experience," said Jim Gold, president, specialty retail, The Neiman Marcus Group.

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Consumer Reports Index: Consumer sentiment drops

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Yonkers, N.Y. — After three consecutive months of improvement, the Consumer Reports Index for March slipped to 46.1, from 49.6 last month.

March’s Consumer Reports Index measures overall consumer financial health and showed that the confidence of the American consumer is waning.

Further challenging consumer confidence, The Trouble Tracker Index increased slightly this month to 52.2 from 49.1 in February, and is now at its highest level since August 2011.

Retail has yet to regain its footing after holidays, as Americans continue to pull back on spending. Consumer Reports Past 30-Day Retail Index fell slightly to 11.5 from 11.8 last month, a pattern similar to last year. Planned purchasing over the next 30 days, reflecting anticipated March activity, is 8.7, up from 7.1 the prior month, seeding hopes for an upturn in the near term.

"Consumers are not yet comfortable in their financial situation as the country limps into its fifth year of near-recessionary times," said Ed Farrell, director of the Consumer Reports National Research Center. "Weak retail is the symptom, not an underlying cause. Consumers will need a clear signal led by a greatly improved jobs outlook to resume spending."

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Walgreens implements Foursquare mobile coupon program

BY Michael Johnsen

Deerfield, Ill. — Walgreens on Tuesday announced the availability of an exclusive new offering for customers that check in at any Walgreens store nationwide through Foursquare.

The drugstore chain said customers that check in via Foursquare instantly will receive a unique scannable coupon via their smartphone, which is redeemable in the store and does not require texting, reply or other steps.


“We’re using mobile technology and social media to better engage Walgreens customers, to give them convenient channels to interact with us and to deliver products, services and savings they truly value,” said Sona Chawla, Walgreens president of e-commerce. “Foursquare shares our commitment to innovation and together we’ve developed some unique, breakthrough offerings that cater to today’s tech-savvy consumers. With this program, it’s just check in and the coupon is displayed instantly.”

Walgreens first introduced mobile coupons through its mobile applications in November. One of the largest retail mobile coupon offering in the United States was launched on “Black Friday,” with point-of-sale scanning available at all of Walgreens locations. The mobile initiative helped generate more than 500,000 downloads of Walgreens’ mobile application in December, the pharmacy operator reported.

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