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Build-A-Bear exec: Getting mobile wrong is detrimental in multichannel marketing

SAN ANTONIO, TX – A Build-A-Bear executive at eTail West 2014 cited mobile as the medium that will either keep its efforts around in-store pickup and site-to-store shipping together or cause them to fall apart.

During the “Staying Competitive in a Rapidly Evolving Retail World as a Multichannel Organization” session, executives from Build-A-Bear, Maxymizer, Petco, Silver Star Brands and Talbots spoke about the importance in creating a comprehensive view of the customer across all marketing mediums. Build-A-Bear, in particular, has been ramping up its digital footprint with both interactive stores and new digital experiences, despite some of the challenges that come with mobile.

“While mobile is a fantastic experience amplifier, it’s tough that now we have another experience on these devices that are so much smaller,” said Brian Sawyer, managing director of interactive and ecommerce at Build-A-Bear Workshop, St. Louis.

“The guest comes in and they know more than sometimes our associates know at times, and so it is a highly-educated [shopper who] knows what she wants when she wants it,” he said.

“As we look at omnichannel and trying to do site-to-store, in-store pickup, all those different things, how do we make sure that we maximize it so that it’s an amazing experience. While [mobile is] a great service, it can really be detrimental if you do it wrong and the execution falls apart.”

Build on mobile?
According to Mr. Sawyer, customer experience and satisfaction on both mobile and Web underpins the brand’s multichannel experience.

To do this, Build-A-Bear has implemented guest satisfaction tools on its mobile and Web sites. The executive did not give specifics on the exact impact, but did say that customer service leads to more sales for the company.

Much of this strategy is around turning a one-time shopper who comes in to buy a birthday or holiday gift into a customer who will shop again for items not linked to a special occasion.

When asked about Beacons and in-store technology, Mr. Sawyer said that the technology is not a top priority for the brand.

“For us, it’s not something that we’ve looked at yet — I think there’s other low-hanging fruit first before we tackle that,” Mr. Sawyer said.

“Authenticating the guest is important first,” he said. “Get the data together, get some very holistic approach to it and make sure that we’re all speaking the same language, and then we can talk about what they’re doing on those particular devices.”

Build-A-Bear’s mobile game

Tying in loyalty?
According to Lisa Gavales, president of direct and marketing at Talbots, Hingham, MA, loyalty programs are key in the multichannel shopping experiences.

However, the benefit for a consumer to log-in with a loyalty account has to be strong enough to keep them logged in.

This helps marketers get a better, more holistic view of a consumer as well as a single view of inventory.

Despite the increase in digital marketing and spend, retailers are still missing out on nailing the basics of multichannel experiences, including multichannel creative and marketing departments.

Personalization is one way of creating a more unified marketing experience, but each touch point has to build on a past touch point.

“Particularly those of us that are bricks-and-mortar and digital, most of us are mainly bricks-and-mortar, which means that we’re sort of this add-on thing, and yes we are growing the fastest, and yes we’re 20 percent of the business, but still not every company is thinking about the customer across all of the touch points,” Ms. Gavales said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York