Sears exec: Multichannel mobile strategy key to influencing purchase intent
A Sears Holdings Corp. executive said that mobile is key to the Sears and Kmart brands’ overall marketing, commerce and customer service strategy.
During an hour-long webinar titled “How Sears & Kmart Integrate Mobile in a Multichannel Context,” the executive talked about the retailer’s mobile strategy and what it is doing to further engage its on-the-go customers. The webinar was moderated by Mickey Alam Khan, editor in chief of Mobile Marketer and Mobile Commerce Daily, New York.
“We want to help consumers understand and provide them with information to find something that is valuable to them and facilitate a purchase,” said Michael Murray, chief marketing officer of online at Sears Holdings Corp., Hoffman Estates, IL.
“If the mobile channel can help facilitate those, then good things will come out of that,” he said. “We facilitate to provide choice and convenience.”
According to Mr. Murray, the overall view of mobile is that context plus technology equals endless possibilities. It is important for companies to provide customers with choices.
For Sears it was about offering mobile options such as its mobile site and applications as a means for consumers to interact with its brands.
Additionally, it is about convenience.
Take Sears’ MyGofer service.
MyGofer and MyGofer2Go are platforms through which consumers can buy via a mobile device or PC and pickup at a Sears or Kmart store.
Also, it is about value. It is important to give consumers an incentive to come back.
Sears offers weekly deals and gives consumers the option to buy via online, mobile or pickup their purchase in-store.
According to Mr. Murray, the company’s target demographic is anyone who is looking to make a connection with the brand.
“We are being agnostic,” Mr. Murray said. “Whether you have an Android or iPhone, it’s not the most important issue for us.
“If our customers are there, we want to make sure we’ve got capabilities that are going to be meaningful for them.”
Sears and Kmart mobile strategies are multichannel, using platforms such as tablets and smartphone devices to reach consumers via apps, mobile Web and SMS alerts.
SMS is a good way to keep the conversation going between the brand and the customer.
However, SMS should not just be used to simply send a text, per Mr. Murray. Marketers should also deliver offers to consumers.
For example, they can send a relevant link to consumers that features a new product. When consumers click on the link to be redirected to a mobile landing page, they can read up on a specific product and buy the item at a discount.
“Customers that receive texts from us have said that this is a medium where we want to hear from you and we’re able to provide customers with clear opportunities that they can take advantage of,” Mr. Murray said. “We have short codes for a number of our brands that help identify where the customer interests are and what the customer’s needs are.
“SMS has an immediacy to it and we allow the consumer to choose the best way for us to communicate with them,” he said.
Mobile applications also help build a communication and relationship with consumers.
“We’re bridging our mobile capabilities with good customer information and insight to help them with a purchase decision and to understand what the product and offer is,” Mr. Murray said. “It’s about connecting that and bridging it.”
The company found that the Mygofer2go app is ideal for customers who are overburdened with frequency of stops and shopping.
“They are looking for convenience and that audience has found this brand to be useful,” Mr. Murray said. “It’s a new business for us so that we can continue to add and get value for our users.”
The executive said that mobile provides opportunities to broaden customer reach because each channel within the mobile medium has its own set of unique consumers to reach.
For example, consumers who prefer SMS communication may not be active app users and vice versa. Yes, there may be some overlap, but having a multichannel mobile strategy is the best way to ensure the greatest reach.
Mobile is also a great way to complement the in-store experience for customers, per Mr. Murray.
Mr. Murray suggests that companies complement and connect their existing channels via mobile and keep the shopping experience fast and simple for the customer, regardless of the medium – mobile, online or in-store.
In addition, businesses should make it personalized and relevant and translate mobile features and engagement into transactions.
“Keep it simple,” Mr. Murray said. “Help them find what they need and move on to the next step such as the transaction.
“The very first place to start is with your customer,” he said. “If you don’t start there, you’ll make a lot of mistakes.”