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Macy’s rings up 3D Touch, new Apple Watch features

Macy’s is angling for strong first-quarter mobile sales with the implementation of 3D Touch into its iOS application, as well as new shopper-friendly features for Apple Watch owners.

A growing number of brands are incorporating 3D Touch features into their apps, likely in a bid to enhance the mobile experience and highlight specific products. Leveraging location-based tools within Apple Watch apps may also be a top retail strategy this year, especially as marketers scheme up ways to entice consumers to visit their bricks-and-mortar storefronts.

“Adoption of increasingly familiar user interface navigation in the app serves to deliver a more intuitive and elegant user experience,” said Scott Forshay, senior mobility innovation strategist at IBM. “Effective mobile design should focus on streamlining the user experience, ensuring the experience is not only highly useful, but increasingly usable as well – making intelligent use of the differentiated functions of the device.

“This commitment to intelligent mobile design is further exemplified in the use of the camera for product-scanning capabilities in the store, providing further utility for shoppers in a more intuitive and elegant way unique to the device,” he said. “Increased navigational utility takes on added importance in the mobile shopping experience with a major department store like Macy’s, with a vast catalog of product offerings.

“The ability to peek and pop through 3D Touch eliminates unnecessary pagination for the shopper – delivering a quicker, less cumbersome experience and will be a powerful driver for adoption of the offers and list features in the app.”

Easier mobile browsing
Macy’s app users will now be able to access 3D Touch on their iPhone 6s and 6s Plus devices, enabling them to access helpful shopping tools such as store locators, offers, search and lists. 3D Touch allows consumers to pop out a window showcasing a specific product or feature and peek at it, which gives a more interactive and eye-catching spin to the mobile browsing experience.

For instance, if shoppers are in search of a particular item or category, they may leverage Macy’s 3D Touch to enlarge the search bar and more easily type in their query. Additionally, having this functionality available for those seeking the best deals and offers may help Macy’s maximize on digital sales.

If a user is perusing Macy’s app without a specific purpose in mind but spots available promotions, he or she may peek at them to determine if any are worth pursuing. Consequently, he or she can use the enhanced search feature to find products onto which the promotion may be applied.

Revamped list features are also paramount in-app tools, since they are among the most popular features that consumers gravitate toward.

With Macy’s online sales growing at a brisk pace during the recent holiday shopping season while in-store sales contracted even more than expected, the retailer is scaling back its bricks-and-mortar business and reinvesting the savings to accelerate its omnichannel strategy in 2016 (see story).

Placing an increased focus on its mobile app is a smart strategy for the brand, which hopes to keep digital and mobile sales high despite waning bricks-and-mortar traffic. Consumers who do have a Macy’s storefront in their vicinity may opt to use their smartphones as shopping companions, thanks to the devices’ ability to engage in comparison pricing, search for coupons and collect loyalty points.

The retailer has also rolled out a slew of new Apple Watch features for fans of wearables. Customers can use their Apple smartwatches to locate a nearby Macy’s store, view store hours and check off products on shopping lists while they shop.

Although wearables have not caught fire with hordes of consumers as predicted last year, enhanced Apple Watch app features will likely provide an even more personalized and helpful shopping experience.

“In the case of the Macy’s Apple Watch app, although the functionality of the app is relatively rudimentary, the store locator feature represents an easily executable, valuable function that offers increased efficiency for shoppers,” Mr. Forshay said. “Of more interest, however, is the seamless cross-device shopping experience represented by the list items check-off feature.

“Users are increasingly demanding a more unified cross-device experience, blurring the lines of demarcation between digital touch points and uniting the omnichannel experience where product research may be conducted on a larger form factor beyond the four walls of the store and purchasing decisions ultimately solidified on the sales floor,” he said.

“The addition of payments in the Apple Watch app could close the loop and should be seriously considered in a future release of the app.”

3D Touch’s rise
3D Touch is shaping up to be the next big tool in mobile commerce now that Starbucks has launched an update using the peek and pop features for paying, ordering, reloading cards and store location (see story).

Macy’s is not the only marketer to recently incorporate 3D Touch capabilities.

Groupon is also fueling engagement with its iOS mobile app by incorporating 3D Touch to further highlight daily deals and offer more user interaction (see story).

“Macy’s is employing an intelligent approach to iterative app development,” Mr. Forshay said. “An early mover in the mobility space, it has correctly realized that simply pressing ‘publish’ on version one of an app does not mean that it has checked the mobile box.

“The onus is on the brand to be continuously innovative, or risk relevancy extinction in the eyes of shoppers who have increasing ownership of the shopping experience and demand a unified, seamless engagement experience with the brands they covet,” he said.

“As natural language speech interpretation and visual recognition technologies continue to mature, look for retailers to adopt application functions that further take advantage of the unique capabilities of mobile devices.”