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Abercrombie links mobile, local inventory to meet shoppers’ omnichannel expectations

The new feature, which is also available on desktop, can help the retailer drive in-store traffic, especially from mobile shoppers. When consumers are quickly browsing through the Abercrombie & Fitch site on their phone, knowing that a product will definitely be in-store may be enough of an incentive for the consumer to make a stop at the bricks-and-mortar location.

“Providing a mobile experience in-store is really enabling ‘the last mile’ in making a mobile shopping experience actionable for shoppers,” said Carin van Vuuren, chief marketing officer at Usablenet, New York. “’Find Store Near Me’ is one of the most highly used functions on mobile, and now shoppers can have even better information about their purchase, allowing them to buy whenever and wherever they want.

“Mobile shoppers often browse on mobile but don’t always buy right away,” Ms. Van Vuuren said. “’Find in store’ makes the mobile discovery process more actionable, enabling the shopper to enjoy the immediate gratification of walking out of the store with the item they desire.

Ms. Van Vuuren is not affiliated with Abercrombie & Fitch. She commented based on her expertise on the subject.

Abercrombie & Fitch did not respond to press inquiries.

When consumers select an item on the Abercrombie & Fitch Web or mobile site, below the “Add to bag” button is a call-to-action that says “New! Find in Store.”  When consumers click on this option, they can select their size to see if the item is in stock nearby.

Consumers can enter a city, state or postal code with their preferred radius of 25, 50 or 75 miles. On a mobile phone they can choose to use their current location and let the site use GPS to locate them.

Then the site lists stores that currently have the item in stock. It also lists store hours and exact location on an interactive map.

Abercrombie & Fitch does not let consumers hold or reserve merchandise, but it does add a message if there is limited stock of a specific item, telling consumers to hurry.

By adding this feature, Abercrombie & Fitch adds an incentive for consumers to visit the bricks-and-mortar location since they can be confident that an item is available.

This confidence is especially important for mobile shoppers who could easily just order from their phone, but they may prefer the immediacy of going to a store and purchasing if they know the item is available. The feature is especially luring for someone on a mobile device who is presumably already on the go and may be willing to stop into a store.

If the feature convinces shoppers to come in-store, that could increase basket size from what would have been a one-item purchase on a mobile device. When in-store, a consumer may be more likely to pick up another item that catches her eye.

The find-in-store feature changes the reality of the in-store experience.

“If Abercrombie has the proper inventory channels in place to deliver real-time visibility both in the warehouse and in-store, this could be incredibly beneficial for the company,” said Maria Haggerty, president of Dotcom Distribution, Edison, NJ.

“By allowing consumers to see if an item is available at a particular store, Abercrombie is likely going to see an increase in in-store demand, and they will need to be adequately prepared on the back-end in terms of inventory,” she said.

Drive to bricks-and-mortar
With more consumers becoming comfortable shopping on mobile and desktop sites, retailers with bricks-and-mortar locations are having difficulty driving in-store traffic.

The find-in-store feature is definitely a useful tactic, but there are a number of different options.

For example, Uniqlo recently rolled out an iPhone app to drive in-store traffic. The app lets consumers scan logos to learn more about brands and also includes a store locator feature (see story).

Target took a slightly different approach by updating its app to include new in-store features that detects when a shopper is nearby to Target in order to push different deals (see story).

Other retailers such as Walmart, Sears and Nordstrom are leveraging ship-to-store to drive in-store traffic. Many offer free ship-to-store, especially during the holiday season, to incentivize actually visiting the bricks-and-mortar store (see story).

“Integrating mobile in-store is a powerful feature that enables retailers to create a connection between what consumers are doing on mobile, such as browsing and store-locating, and providing the opportunity to secure the sale in a physical store,” Usablenet’s Ms. van Vuuren said.

“This is a very positive step toward making it possible for consumers to have more information and decide how they want to purchase,” she said. “Once in the store, there is the opportunity to expand the shopping basket even further.”

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York