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Macy’s Backstage focuses on mobile to compete with discount retailers

The department store retailer is introducing mobile checkout options near its discount store dressing rooms to ensure convenient and speedy purchasing options, as well as free in-store Wi-Fi, charging stations and pushes to share merchandise on social media. The mobile integration is an effort to secure the future of the project, which many are saying is a chance to turnaround its declining revenue.

“The mobile checkout available by our dressing rooms are to service the customer quickly who is looking to make a fast transaction,” said Elina Kazan, spokeswoman at Macy’s Backstage. “It is to create a seamless shopping experience where time and money are a commodity.”

Backstage pass
On September 2, Macy’s Backstage debuted three bricks-and-mortar stores in the New York City area, equipped with the mobile checkout technology and social call-to-actions. The concept pairs two of the hottest trends in retail – off-price stores that sell high-profile brands at a discount and mobile marketing – a strategy that could help it reach impulse buyers with location-based marketing (see more).

The Macy’s Backstage mobile checkout system is located directly near the fitting rooms, acting as an express purchase service for a quick departure. The easy option creates a less complicated shopping experience, decreases lines and generates positive brand sentiment.

Sales associates will be equipped with the handheld devices and be able to quickly swipe customers’ cards without long lines and delays. The devices also offer up the mobility to travel around the store and assist customers wherever they are located.

“Retailers looking to launch mobile checkouts need to consider respecting the customer’s privacy and personal space,” said Perry Kramer, vice president and practice lead, Boston Retail Partners. “The fitting room area is perceived differently by different generations, cultures and geographic areas of the country and the store associates must be respectful of the consumer preferences.

“Additionally, there are special logistics of setting-up a work area for bagging garments, removing the dreaded security tag, and printing a receipt for those not wanting an e-mailed receipt,” he said. “This is a great opportunity to develop a smaller, customer-friendly engagement/bagging station and begin the slow death of the traditional larger checkouts.

“Many specialty retailers have started down this road and it is an opportunity for Macy’s Backstage to develop it and perfect it for use in some of the key areas inside the larger Macy’s stores. This is a unique opportunity to add the items to a customer staging area for each customers order as they shop and avoids the customer needing to carry around arms full of items or leaving them in the fitting room while they make multiple trips.”

The social media call-to-action is enticing users to share pictures of their Backstage merchandise and outfits, which will be featured on its aggregate site and various social media channels. Users snap a photo of their outfits and include the hashtag #MacysBackstage.

Wi-Fi availability within its locations and charging stations not only create a greater consumer connection, but also allow for more informed decision-making. Macy’s is offering a variety of discount clothing, and shoppers will be able to easily ensure via mobile that it is the cheapest price.

According to reports from Forbes and Fortune, Macy’s has experinced declining sales within that last two quarters and TJ Maxx has dethroned the department store chain. Macy’s has found a way to get in on the trend of discount retail, as markdown retailers increasingly gaining traction.

Macy’s Backstage will open in three more locations by this fall.

Fitting room finance
The fitting room is shaping up as the next frontier in the mobile transformation of in-store experiences, with Macy’s currently testing a program in one store and other retailers exploring similar strategies (see more).

Dressing rooms are the key location in making a decision in the shopping process, and Macy’s is keen on leveraging this with mobile options. Implementing the mobile checkout around these areas can increase impulse sales.

“Bargain hunting for designer deals is fun and Macy’s Backstage sets the stage for an exciting in store experience where shoppers will find great fashion at a great price,” Ms. Kazan said. “We encourage shoppers to share their great finds with friends as we know many customers love to already.”

Final take
Brielle Jaekel is editorial assistant at Mobile Commerce Daily