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Macy’s helps shoppers make the most of mobile opportunities

Macy’s is leading the flock of retailers seeking to educate customers about mobile-specific offerings ahead of Black Friday, asking shoppers to enable push notifications as well as location-based settings prior to walking into a store.

Many brands are heading to mobile to advertise their holiday promotion circulars ahead of Thanksgiving weekend and drum up excitement for their doorbuster deals. Macy’s is taking this strategy one step further by dedicating a portion of its site to educating consumers on how best to leverage mobile while shopping in-store or digitally, a top tactic for fans seeking to win gift codes and branded prizes within its application.

“I think if you asked ten different customers their opinion of this, you’d get ten vastly different responses,” said Steve Rowen, managing partner at Retail Systems Research, Miami. “Some shoppers get very touchy about push notifications, and others will absolutely recoil at the notion of location-based communication in any form.

“But I’ll caveat this by saying that if the communications have enough value, that skepticism tends to go away – quickly,” he said. “Black Friday has pretty much shed any air of being about old-timey family bonding or tradition; it’s war out there, and it’s all about deals.”

Pre-shopping tips and tricks
Macy’s, which is kicking off the shopping frenzy on Thanksgiving Day this year, is asking consumers to visit to view curated tips and information on how best to use mobile as a shopping companion this weekend.

The retailer is rolling out its Macy’s Black Friday Walk In & Win campaign to enable app users to win some of the one million dollars’ worth of prizes up for grabs, which include trips to New York City as well as digital gift codes.

Interested participants must pre-register by filling out their personal information on the site and downloading the Macy’s mobile app if they have not yet already done so. They may also text the keyword WIN to 62297 to request a download link.

The next step for partaking in the instant win game is enabling several smartphone settings. Macy’s has developed a chart for iOS and Android devices that is displayed at the bottom of the dedicated campaign page.

Consumers may choose the appropriate chart for their device and check to make sure that all necessary settings are turned on before they visit a Macy’s store this weekend. This will prevent on-site glitches, and will free up time for associates to help other customers with retail-related inquiries.

For example, those with iOS smartphones must enable push notifications, location services, in-store notifications and Bluetooth settings if they would like to play. Android users must do the same, although their chart contains slightly different directions.

Spotlighting mobile education
Other retailers would be well-suited to follow in Macy’s footsteps and ensure that their online and mobile sites have sections outlining best practices for shopping with smartphones this season.

Mobile newbies or consumers who rarely use their smartphones may not have the knowledge necessary to enable their location settings and notifications prior to walking in-store, which could cause them to miss out on significant rewards.

Macy’s is allowing customers to receive prizes by playing the mobile-enabled Macy’s Black Friday Walk In & Win game, which is triggered by in-store beacons (see story). Additionally, consumers may view a sneak peek at Black Friday specials by visiting the Macy’s Pinterest page and building a personal shopping list on that they can shop from directly this Thursday.

The retailer also has an instructional video that site visitors can watch while figuring out how to switch their settings.

Macy’s has been gearing up for holiday sales in a big way over the recent weeks. Earlier this month, the brand unlocked several seasonal mobile apps to connect with holiday shoppers of all ages, enabling them to interact with content during its annual Thanksgiving Day Parade and write wish list letters to Santa (see story).

“I’ll be interested to see what the communications look like,” Mr. Rowen said. “And it would be particularly fascinating to know [Macy’s] success rate in getting people to say ‘yes’ well ahead of the actual day.

“The average Black Friday shopper puts a lot of prep work and planning into this, after all. It’s definitely the right time, market, and consumer with which to experiment.”

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