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Kohl’s unfolds in-store app mode to kick off omnichannel blitz

Kohl’s is introducing store mode in its mobile application so shoppers can more easily search inventory and locate in-store deals as the department store integrates with Apple Pay and Visa Checkout, underscoring the effectiveness of omnichannel approaches in driving sales.

The retailer is unrolling a slew of mobile-friendly features to enhance the in-store and digital shopping experience, a move which will undoubtedly propel sales higher as the holiday season approaches. In addition to piloting same-day delivery in participating locations, Kohl’s is offering more mobile payment options, an in-app store mode tool and a seamless digital shopping bag.

“Within store mode in the Kohl’s app, customers will have a more personalized experience,” said Ratnakar Lavu, executive vice president of digital technology at Kohl’s. “Customers can check the price of an item, see offers related to the item.

“They will see specific store hours and be able to search available inventory at that location,” he said. “This is in addition to the other great features of the Kohl’s app, like the mobile wallet, which helps keep track of offers and Kohl’s Cash, as well as provides easy access to their Yes2You rewards account and points.

“The app is really resonating with our customers and enhancing their overall experience with Kohl’s.”

In-store shopping companion
Kohl’s is leveraging mobile as an in-store shopping companion to better cater to guests and offer a more customized experience. Users of the retailer’s mobile app can now set it to store mode to search in-stock inventory more readily and locate in-store deals that they may apply to their purchase, such as Kohl’s Cash and discount coupons.

An increasing number of brands are using in-store app features to aid time-strapped consumers in navigating bricks-and-mortar stores. This tool will come in handy during Black Friday and other peak holiday shopping times, when hordes of customers arrive to stores in hopes of snatching up the best promotions.

Rolling out the in-store mode capability ahead of the busy shopping season is a smart move for Kohl’s, as its customers will be able to get used to it in time for the best deals of the year. The retailer may also be able to entice consumers away from competitors that do not offer this function, especially if shoppers are time-strapped and seeking to spend a limited amount of time in stores on Black Friday.

“Recent studies have shown that between 30 to 40 percent of shoppers use their smartphones to enhance their in-store visit,” said Ryan Grogman, vice president of Boston Retail Partners, Boston. “By providing accurate store inventory data via its app, Kohl’s is helping to secure a greater commitment to purchase from its customers who wish to shop in-store but utilize the app for additional product information.

“Additionally, Kohl’s use of store-specific promotions should help it create a personalized experience for its most loyal customers. Other ways in which retailers have found success within an in-app store mode include functionality such as a virtual store map to help drive additional revenue from customers who can’t find what they are looking for but don’t want to ask a sales associates, and push-to-talk functionality for customers who want immediate in-store assistance.”

Additionally, Kohl’s is recognizing the importance of offering multiple payment options for consumers who prefer to check out via mobile. IOS users may now pay with Apple Pay and add their Kohl’s credit card to the platform.

Visa Checkout users may do the same on Kohl’s mobile site and app.

“By accepting Apple Pay as a method of payment, Kohl’s is sending the message that it is a modern retailer who understands technology and the growing demand from its customers to pay however they prefer,” Mr. Grogman said. “By further supporting the use of Apple Pay within its app, along with its use of Visa Checkout, Kohl’s is really stepping up from an omnichannel perspective.”

Customers who enjoy using the Kohl’s mobile wallet, found within the app, will also be able to scan and save gift cards directly into the wallet. The ability to scan and save Kohl’s Cash and promotional codes will eliminate the need for shoppers to carry around paper coupons, which can easily be misplaced or lost.

Digitizing shopping carts
Kohl’s is also streamlining its digital shopping carts by transforming them into one virtual bag that will be accessible via mobile, tablet or desktop. When consumers shop across several devices, the cart will update itself accordingly once guests sign in to their Kohl’s accounts.

This strategy will be effective in combatting abandoned shopping carts, a major issue for retailers who see customers shop on one device, forget about their reserved picks and subsequently refrain from purchasing.

The brand’s buy online, pickup in-store offer will also be applicable to items purchased on smartphones or tablet devices this fall. Same-day delivery is currently being tested for online purchases in select markets.

In May, Kohl’s and The Limited got behind online ordering and pick-up services that serve up immediate gratification for consumers who are unwilling to wait for delivery while opening opportunities for retailers to serve up mobile-specific offerings (see story).

To top off the new omnichannel initiatives, Kohl’s is also planning to roll out a redesigned version of the mobile site that boasts a streamlined checkout process and easier search features. Meanwhile, the tablet app will include integration with the Yes2You rewards platform, as well as access to the mobile wallet.

“With these digital enhancements, Kohl’s is well-positioned for the holiday season as we continue to deliver exceptional value to our customers through our quality brands and customer conveniences,” Kohl’s Mr. Lavu said. “We’re creating a compelling, engaging and seamless shopping experience across channels.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely, editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York