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Passbook vaulted Walgreens app to No. 8 in free App Store day after launch

During the “The Savvy Shopper: How In-Store Scanning Apps Are Effecting Brick And Mortar Business Models,” session, executives from Walgreens, American Eagle and Spotzot spoke about the opportunities that mobile presents to drive in-store traffic and increase loyalty programs for retailers. The session was moderated by Eric Feinberg, senior director of mobile, media and entertainment at ForeSee, Ann Arbor, MI.

“One of the reasons we like Passbook is that it instantly comes on as you get near a store,” said Tim McCauley, director of mobile commerce at Walgreens, Deerfield, IL.

“It’s one where we think, ‘here’s a great way to get geofencing capabilities and benefits out to our customers,’” he said. “Even if they may not come into the store that day, it helps them and makes for a faster experience.”

“Because of the nature that Apple is doing it — they are very retailer-and-app friendly — it’s one where you have to download the Walgreens app to get the Walgreens Passbook. It had the side effect of vaulting us up to No. 8 in total free store the day after this launched.”

Tie into loyalty
Walgreens was an early adopter of Apple’s Passbook feature because the iOS6 launch synced with the brand’s announcement of a new loyalty program. In order to use Passbook, consumers must first download the Walgreens iPhone app, which helps the company bolster downloads.

The Walgreens app was the No. 8-ranked  free app  in Apple’s App Store on Sept. 25.

Convenience is one of the key goals of Walgreen’s mobile initiatives. Whatever solution the company uses has to be easy for the consumer to use.

For example, to teach consumers how to scan mobile bar codes, the company ties the technology to a particular use case, such as online prescription refill. Per Mr. McCauley, more than 40 percent of Walgreens’ online prescription refills come from mobile devices.

Walgreens has also used QR codes on employee T-shirts to help store associates show shoppers how the technology works.

Additionally, personalization plays a large role for the company. For example, Walgreens uses an in-store mapping feature to let users quickly find items in-store. The mapping features are also available in the third-party app Aisle411.

With more than 8,000 stores in the United States and two-thirds of the population living within three miles of a location, check-ins and in-store mobile efforts play a large role for Walgreens.

“For us, the in-store shopping experience starts outside the store,” Mr. McCauley said.

By using location, out-of-store mobile initiatives help drive in-store traffic for the company.

When it comes to apps, Walgreens chooses to pack everything into one app for all of the company’s different shoppers.

Walgreens also claims to bring in three million visits per week to its mobile properties.

Targeted offers
Esther Kestenbaum, vice president of business development at Spotzot, Santa Clara, CA, said that the majority of consumers who use their devices to shop will take an action immediately, including buying directly or going to a store.

Although some retailers might be pushing back against showrooming, it is a reality with consumers relying on their mobile devices as price comparison tools. However, retailers can deal with it directly by giving users incentives to shop in-store.

For instance, retailers can set geo-fenced areas that target shoppers in competitors’ stores. Spotzot worked with Macy’s on a campaign that saw 17-18 percent of clicks coming from consumers standing inside Nordstroms.

Geofencing also turns into a soft check-in that then allows a marketer to send offers to consumers.

Mobile retail
According to Eric Schmitt, director of marketing at American Eagle Outfitters, Pittsburgh, the company primarily uses mobile bar codes as an engagement method. For example, American Eagle Outfitters has placed QR codes in-store to let users shop and learn more about looks from mannequins.

To increase consumer awareness about scanning, the brand educates store employees on how to explain the technology to consumers as well as using in-store signage and marketing to show users how it works.

American Eagle Outfitters also uses the Shopkick app to drive in-store traffic. The company began its partnership in 2010 and expanded it nationally this year.

Using rewards can be a great way to lure consumers into a store. In American Eagle Outfitters’ case, consumers can redeem Shopkick’s kick rewards for points towards the brand’s AERewards loyalty program.

In addition to the shopkick expansion, the company launched a tablet app. Additionally, the company is in the process of consolidating all databases — email, direct mail and mobile — to get a better understanding of the company’s consumers.

When it comes to differentiating between an online and in-store mobile strategy, personalization is key to the in-store experience.

American Eagle Outfitter’s mobile marketing initiatives have been used to communicate with consumers. The next step for the company is going to be to arm store associates with tools to help with in-store transactions and assist shoppers.

“We’re not there yet, but if we were to go there it would be along the lines of personalization to be able to identify when someone comes in if they are a rewards member, know something about them in terms of their past purchase history and to be able to identify for them items that might be on sale that day,” Mr. Schmitt said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York