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Express embraces mobile to remake the in-store experience

The new store will officially open on Tuesday, March 25 at 7 p.m. ET with a performance by Robin Thicke. In addition to the in-store elements, the location will also be holding a mobile sweepstakes to celebrate the new store.

“Time Square has always been the square-of-the-future for retail and advertising,” said Gary Schwartz, Toronto-based author of “The Impulse Economy” and “Fast Shopper, Slow Store.” “I cannot count the number of interactive advertising campaign have come and gone over the past ten years.

“It is a natural place to delight your customers,” he said.

Mr. Schwartz is not affiliated with Express. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.

Express declined to comment.

New location
The new New York Express location will be at 1552 and 1560 Broadway on the corner of Broadway and 46th Street.

With more than 28,000 square feet, the new location will create a huge presence for Express. At the same time, Express recognizes the importance of embracing technology to reach shoppers.

The Times Square store will integrate imagery boxes, LED walls and screens, interactive iPads, mobile point of sale and on-site charging stations.

While all of these features make the in-store shopping experience more exciting, the mobile POS feature is most progressive for a big retailer such as Express. It could enable shoppers to checkout with store associates all around the store and create a more pleasant experience.

Additionally, on-site charging stations are likely to keep shoppers in-store longer and also enable Express to send messages via Wi-Fi.

Other retailers are also elevating the in-store experience with technology.

Urban Outfitters rolled out in-store charging stations last summer, possibly in an effort to drive more foot traffic and create new marketing opportunities (see story).

While Express did not respond to inquiries, one might expect the brand to expand these mobile in-store features to other stores if the Times Square roll-out goes well.

To celebrate this mobile-savvy store, Express will also be holding a mobile sweepstakes during the four-hour opening event. Consumers will be awarded a prize based on a mobile “scratch and win” contest.

The prizes range from Express gift cards and merchandise to packages from event partners Wine Awesomeness, Uber, Night Hotel and Pippin.

In-store mobile
While retailers still need to maintain a solid presence on mobile apps and sites to reach online shoppers, there is an increasing need to integrate mobile into the in-store experience as well to drive traffic to bricks-and-mortar locations.

Smaller merchants such as Cako Bakery and The Confectional have been quicker to adopt mobile POS systems, but larger retailers such as Express are starting to see the benefits as well.

Increasingly, large retailers such as department stores are also embracing mobile to streamline in-store transactions and enhance customer relationships (see story).

According to a new report from IHL Group, the number of mobile point-of-sale devices used by department stores, apparel and shoe stores will nearly triple this year. Mobile POS devices are expected to grow more than 95 percent worldwide in 2014 and by more than 108 percent in North America (see story).

“Mobile POS has the ability to drive efficiencies but also help establish a new relationship with a mobile shopper,” Mr. Schwartz said.

“Mobile POS also eliminates a considerable amount of abandonment. The Express consumer that does not want to wait in line with a shopping basket. And the store needs to clientele intelligently across all their retail touch points.”

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