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Brooks Brothers exec: Mobile bridges store associates and shoppers

The Brooks Brothers iPad app

NEW YORK- A Brooks Brothers executive at Aberdeen Group’s Retail and Consumer Markets Summit said that in addition to investing in an iPad application, the retailer is looking for ways to empower its store associates with mobile devices.

Executives from Brooks Brothers and The Vitamin Shoppe spoke on “The Perfect Order to Fulfillment Journey: The Key to Lower Costs and Maximum Customer Service” session about how technology has changed their inventory systems. The session also gave attendees an overview of how retailers are handling their in-store and ecommerce efforts.

“One of the things being reviewed right now is how to take mobile to the next level,” said Michael Moseman, director of the customer contact center at Brooks Brothers, New York.

“The energy is around how to leverage mobile from an in-store experience,” he said.

“We want to give engagement and interaction with our customers that happen all over the store.”

Mobile history
One of the challenges of integrating technology for Brooks Brothers is finding a way to incorporate the brand’s long-standing history, which dates back to 1818 and now includes 400 stores worldwide.

Additionally, the company’s mission statement remains the same, making it difficult to meet the needs of both tech-savvy and traditional shoppers.

For example, Brooks Brothers recently released an iPad app because the company knew that it needed it as a mobile presence. However, Mr. Moseman said that it is not an area that the retailer is overly invested in.

Despite a full Web site and mobile offerings, many Brooks Brothers consumers still prefer to call-in orders.

This past holiday, traffic on the Brooks Brothers Web site on Dec. 26 – the biggest retail day for the company – pushed it to the brink, meaning that consumers did not get the best experience. Although a Web site might look well to users, back-end problems can be a big challenge during times with high traffic, such as holidays.

With more consumers using the Web as the go-to place for buying, it is important for retailers of all sizes to keep up in the digital world.

“Amazon set the standard and now we have to keep up,” Mr. Moseman said.

The retailer is also looking to integrate the ability for consumers to check-out online and pick-up an item in-store.

Brooks Brothers is currently in the first phase of revamping its inventory system. The first phase is slated to be complete by the end of July.

The exec also revealed that going forward, the brand is actively looking to expand its international footprint.

Brooks Brothers’ Mr. Moseman presenting with The Vitamin Shoppe’s Mr. Scheffer

Multi-vitamin channel
Jason Scheffer, vice president of inventory and transportation at The Vitamin Shoppe, North Bergen, NJ, also spoke on the panel about how the retailer is using technology to manage both in-store and Web inventory.

The company’s inventory plan is also aimed at looking at how to include a broader business plan into its inventory management.

From a service perspective, The Vitamin Shoppe claims that 97 percent of orders that are made before 5 p.m. each day are sent out the same day. With consumers doing more of their shopping online, users are less willing to wait a couple of days to receive an order confirmation.

The Vitamin Shoppe is also working with solution 4R Systems to help alert consumers when items are available in-store. With its inventory system, the company can be more specific about when items will arrive, which helps to drive both foot and online traffic.

The retailer will soon be rolling out stores in Canada, and similar to Brooks Brothers is looking for ways to let consumers order items online and pick them up in-store.

“Our goal is to deliver cost and service improvements throughout the business,” Mr. Scheffer said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York