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BJ’s redesigns site to aid in-store searching, heating up competition with Costco

Warehouse club chain BJ’s is bringing significant upgrades to its mobile and desktop sites, such as easier membership signup options and improved navigation capabilities, to enhance its omnichannel experience.

The club, which has more than 200 locations nationwide, is attempting to make signing up for a membership, which is necessary to shop at the store, a more streamlined digital affair. The upgrade is also focused on making it easier for customers to search for products and sort through the catalog.

“Mobile has transformed the shopping experience for consumers and retailers need to catch up to where those consumers are,” said Sheryl Daija, chief strategy officer of Mobile Marketing Association. “Additionally, not only is this valuable for consumers who want to check reviews, pricing, product details, etc., integrating mobile in-store also adds value for retailers, enabling them to better understand the role mobile plays throughout the customer journey.” 

Mobile site facelift
The newly upgraded site contains three major features that are being emphasized. These are a streamlined membership signup option, improved searching and navigating features and a focused online assortment.

The membership signup page on the company’s mobile site lets users jump right into one of several membership options. As a members-only club, it is an important part of BJ’s business model to get customers signed up as easily as possible.

Competitors such as Costco and Sam’s Club have their own mobile applications and display signup options prominently on their respective mobile sites. BJ’s is following that trend by placing its signup pages front and center.

The improved search functions also serve an important part of the wholesale club-style shopping experience. In big warehouse-like stores, it is important for customers to be able to find the products they are looking for without getting lost.

“Big box stores can be so vast and confusing so if executed well mobile search can answer an ongoing consumer need,” said Jon Squire, CEO and co-founder of Cardfree. “Good for them for leveraging mobile search, which we’ll be seeing a lot more of in the near future.”

In-store searching not only provides an easier way to facilitate that, but it is also useful for customers to see their options and make more informed purchasing decisions. A study from Google found that 84 percent of consumers use mobile searching to make decisions while in-store, meaning that an investment in search is good for brand and customer.

Finally, BJ’s is focusing on improving its product assortment both online and in-store, giving its customers the largest possible variety of choices between its online and offline channels.

Competition heats up
Warehouse club retailers such as BJ’s and Sam’s Club have always been the no-frills version of regular stores. In recent years, however, some of those brands have been shedding that humble image and branching out into social, mobile and digital areas.

Last year, Brandwatch told Mobile Marketer that Costco had a high level of reach growth,” meaning that it was expanding its ability to reach consumers on different levels at an accelerated rate (see story).

Similarly, Sam’s Club made waves last month when it introduced its Scan & Go mobile app, letting customers scan items on the store floor and pay directly through the app, significantly speeding up the entire shopping process (see story).

BJ’s site redesign is clearly coming on the heels of similar steps taken by its direct competitors. A strong mobile presence is a requirement for the brand to keep up.

“Mobile is ubiquitous for consumers – marketers need to create consistent brand experiences that run the gamut across all touchpoints,” Ms. Daija said. “Additionally, the value of data capture that can be gleaned from the mobile shopper experience is unprecedented.”