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Kmart fuels holiday sales with revamped mobile coupons, layaway features

Kmart is underscoring mobile’s role as a shopping companion by rolling out a slew of updated application features, including real-time push notifications for limited-time specials, exclusive coupons and layaway options for weekly payment plans.

The retailer is readying itself for the onslaught of holiday shoppers by ensuring that its mobile app offers the most commerce-friendly features, especially for consumers looking to save as much as possible this season. The revamped app contains push notification features for customers interested in learning about Bluelight Specials, a new coupon each Friday and free pickup in-store options, among others.

“We wanted to provide shoppers with an easy-to-use mobile app with features specifically designed to help everyone find gifts on their holiday shopping lists,” said Leena Munjal, senior vice president of customer experience and integrated retail at Sears Holdings, Hoffman Estates, IL. “With the increase in mobile shopping tied to the holidays over the years, it’s more important than ever to ensure our members can get the best deals and services through their smartphones.”

Streamlined holiday shopping
The app update arrives at the most opportune time for retailers: the build-up to Thanksgiving and Black Friday, which officially kick off holiday shopping in earnest for many consumers. Kmart claims that mobile’s share of online sales has jumped by 100 percent year-over-year, meaning that leveraging smartphone is an imperative strategy when attempting to market to customers.

Members of its loyalty program, Shop Your Way, may now access real-time push notifications each time a Bluelight Special is announced. As soon as the deal appears online, users who have opted in will receive product details on their mobile devices, as well as the ability to purchase the item directly from the app.

The Free Friday Fix feature enables customers to earn a coupon each Friday that can be redeemed in-store for a free gift with purchase. Meanwhile, consumers who prefer to pick up their purchases in-store may choose to shop online or on mobile and use the Free Store Pickup option.

Individuals who are wary about inputting personal credit card details on mobile may also tap the Pay In Store tool to reserve their desired products within the app, pay with whichever method they prefer in-store and leave with their purchases or have them shipped to their homes.

This feature may resonate well with older audiences that have difficulty with following payment instructions on digital platforms.

Additionally, Kmart is offering a mobile-enabled layaway plan. The Layaway and Go app section allows users to scan items with their smartphones and add them to a designated layaway list.

Consumers may consequently open a layaway contract through November 29 with a one-cent down payment. Those with long holiday shopping lists may opt to use this tool if they prefer not to haul their chosen items to the layaway counter when shopping in-store.

Lastly, the Kmart Coupon Center section is designed to make it as simple as possible for customers to apply the best savings to their purchases. Users can upload applicable coupons to their Shop Your Way accounts in the app, which will automatically apply them during checkout.

The retailer is driving app downloads and persuading existing users to update to the revamped version by providing a $5 off discount for Shop Your Way members to use toward a purchase of $35 or more.

Ringing in mobile sales
The National Retail Foundation posits that mobile is on track to play a crucial role in the customer shopping journey during the holidays, as evidenced by a survey that found 22 percent of consumers planning to buy items via mobile this season.

Meanwhile, 38 percent of respondents said they are going to use smartphones for researching purposes. Twenty percent will use product availability features to determine if an item is in stock before visiting a bricks-and-mortar store.

Kmart is inviting fans to join the conversation on social media and share in holiday excitement by posting via the #ShoppingIsFunAgain hashtag.

This past April, Kmart continued to leverage social video to generate laughs and brand awareness via an hour-long video of two guys doing nothing that supported the launch of the Joe Boxer Inactivity Tracker (see story).

“Kmart brought back Bluelight Specials earlier in the season and we are thrilled to bring this to life in mobile as well,” Ms. Munjal said. “With the app, users can receive real-time push notifications announcing Bluelight Specials exclusive to, and can make a purchase directly from the app.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely, staff writer on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York