Mobile Commerce Daily is now Retail Dive: Mobile Commerce! Click here to learn more!

Mobile is bridge to better in-store experiences, claims REI exec

PALM DESERT, CA – An REI executive at eTail West 2015 claimed that brands must integrate digital and marketing teams as they work to leverage mobile as a bridge solution to enhance in-store experiences.

During the “Multi-Screen Kick-Off Panel Discussion: Developing Optimal Multi-Screen Experiences For Your Customers Today And Tomorrow” session, executives from REI, Oracle Marketing Cloud and Luxottica Retail discussed their view of having integrated digital strategies in-house. They also encouraged brands to invest in mobile metrics, so that data can offer up valuable information to help digitize the in-store experience.

“From an REI perspective, we’ve seen tremendous amounts of traffic switch to both smartphones and tablets,” said Jeff Klonowski, director of digital retail, mobile and business development at REI, Seattle, WA. “We’re going to see that continue to grow. The writing’s on the wall, it’s already been decided that alternative screens are here to stay.”

Contextual experiences
The executives advised marketers to look at mobile as one facet of a contextual experience that can be spread across many channels.

“Mobile to us at REI is not about a device, it’s about context,” Mr. Klonowski said.

REI developed a standalone mobile Web site last year in an effort to distribute a consistent Web experience across all screens. The brand enjoys creating mobile moments that deliver relevant messages to the user at the right time, whether it is via mobile-optimized emails or location-based targeting.

Echoing statements from speakers at yesterday’s sessions, the executives reiterated that one unified strategy spread across all digital platforms is not a sound solution.

For example, REI has seen significant usage on mobile, but has found that mobile does not convert as well as tablet devices. More consumers appear to be purchasing on tablets, which suggests that tablet applications may be better off featuring enhanced checkout options.

Bridge solution
REI gazes at mobile as a bridge solution between the physical and digital world – a viewpoint which is popular for many bricks-and-mortar retailers. Therefore, this requires brand teams to work together cohesively so that data can be shared and used to bolster customers’ experiences even more.

“Marketing is where you and your customer meet,” said Mark Friedler, senior director at Oracle Marketing Cloud, San Francisco, CA. “The CIO needs to empower that meeting to take place, to open up those silos so that data and information can flow.

“Another way to use data is be able to know what people are interested in,” he said. “Not just from first party data, but from second party data.”

REI offered its push notifications as an example of how marketing can be spread across different in-house teams to form a cohesive strategy, which can then garner data and consumer feedback. REI’s digital team owns the push notification product, while the marketing team owns the messaging strategy.

“We’ve really tried to proliferate the mobile mindset through the organization,” Mr. Klonowski said.  “This is a critical part of our business.”

He named one of his biggest concerns for retailers as the inability to change in a fast-growing sector, enabling competitor brands to race ahead in digital and mobile while one retailer lags behind.

“If we’re standing still, someone is going to eat our lunch, and we need to be aware of that,” Mr. Klonowski said.

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