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Chatbots, beacons are next steps in mcommerce: Home Depot exec

NEW YORK – A Home Depot executive at the MMA SM2 Innovation Summit 2016 revealed that mobile and tablet usage make up 50 percent of the retailer’s online traffic, a significant number that has prompted it to explore other mobile commerce initiatives, including beacons and chatbots.

During the session, “Introducing Mobile Prodigies: Defining the Future of Location-Powered Mobile Marketing,” the executive said that the home improvements brand has seen a 30 percent year-over-year growth in mobile, which has inspired it to innovate with other Internet of Things-related technologies in a bid to drive more sales. Despite having a customer base primarily consisting of baby boomers, Home Depot is also attempting to target mobile prodigies – defined as Generation Z consumers and younger millennials – with its digital platforms.

“Mobile prodigies value personalization and they use mobile for shopping inspiration,” said Yvette Davis, manager of media strategy at The Home Depot. “Everything that we’re doing is keeping those mobile prodigies in mind.”

Mobile’s undeniable influence
Per Ms. Davis, mobile and tablet make up 50 percent of Home Depot’s online traffic, resulting in a 30 percent year-over-year growth. More than two million customers use Home Depot’s mobile application, which recently underwent a revamping.

The retailer, which seeks to leverage mobile to provide information, convenience and discovery to consumers as well as enhance in-store shopping experiences, updated its app to be more intuitive and personalized.

It now displays products suggested to each user based on his or her previous shopping behaviors.

Ms. Davis also revealed that Home Depot studied learnings from its live chat capability on desktop before integrating the feature into its app.

Additionally, the retailer uses location data to ensure it serves the correct product price to a customer based on his or her location.

In regards to forthcoming mobile commerce efforts, Ms. Davis claimed that some of the technologies she finds most exciting are chatbots, emojis and conversational commerce as a whole.

“I think [chatbots] make it more natural for customers to engage with your product or service,” Ms. Davis said.

Other areas of exploration and testing for Home Depot include beacon technology and creative optimization.

“We have our beacon technology that we’ve acquired, but we’re not quite there where we’re activating against it,” Ms. Davis said. “We have to get mobile right.

“Mobile significantly drives foot traffic to my physical retail locations.”

Mobile prodigies’ spending power
Another executive who spoke during the session, from location mobile marketing platform Verve, underscored the sheer influence that mobile prodigies have on mobile commerce – ultimately, an annual spending power of $250 to $260 billion.

One notable fact to keep in mind is that these prodigies are actively embracing the mobile application ecosystem and granting permission for brands to use their data when served with relevant content.

“The app ecosystem is alive and vibrant,” said Julie Bernard, chief marketing officer of Verve.

Mobile is the primary screen for 56 percent of users at home who are starting a shopping search, while 60 percent of consumers download one or more apps each week.

“The time to create mobile creative is right now,” Ms. Bernard said.

She also offered several suggestions for developing attention-grabbing mobile ads. These include an appealing aesthetic design and predictive personalization.

“It’s more than predictive personalization; [mobile prodigies] are seeking anticipatory inspiration,” Ms. Bernard said. “They know they are sharing lots of data; they expect us to use that data to know their hobbies, interests and pull all that together.”