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Retailer Express pushes location-based deals via branded shopping app

Express has taken the term mobile retail to the next level with a new shopping application that serves users relevant offers based on their location.

The new application is truly a first of its kind, integrating social, mobile shopping, location-based offers, sweepstakes and video into one interactive experience. The application is currently pushing the retailer’s fall line for men and women.

“We are very excited to be working with Express to bring these cutting edge retailer applications to market,” said Maya Mikhailov, vice president of GPShopper,  New York. “They have really differentiated themselves by going beyond the catalog and offering Express fans a rich interactive experience that includes video, up-to-the-minute news and social shopping features.

“They are also harnessing the location capabilities of mobile devices, by providing unique perks for nearby consumers, to drive them into stores,” she said.

GPShopper built the application for Express. Express did not respond in time for press.

Upon entering the application, users are asked to share their location.

Based on users’ GPS coordinates, the application serves up relevant offers called Proximity Perks.

For example, consumers that are close to the Broadway (SoHo) Express location get served an offer to receive $30 off of their purchase of $90 or more.

This deal is part of Express’ Fashion Night Out. Consumers just need to show their mobile coupon at participating Express locations to redeem their Proximity Perk.

Here is a screen grab of the Proximity Perk:

Consumers who register within the application can enter to win a $250 Gift Card, which can be used at any Express in the United States.

Consumers can search the application for stores closest to them. They can browse items and add them to their mobile wish list.

“Mobile-savvy retailers are trying their best to keep up with the consumer behavior trends of their customer base and reach these customers where they are spending their time,” said Jason Taylor, vice president of global product strategy at Usablenet, New York.

“With more advanced smartphones entering the market, owners are downloading more apps, whether they are games, newspapers or branded apps from favorite retailers,” he said.

“Retailers are realizing that the app market is yet another space for them to interface with their customers and encourage sales.”

The application is not commerce-enabled, so consumers are routed to the Express Web site if they want to actually make a purchase.

Ironic as it seems, Express’ site is not optimized for mobile, so the purchase process is not exactly seamless.

The Express Stylist portion of the application brings users the Pick of the Week.

There is also a section of the application that is dedicated to letting consumers know what is on sale at that time.

Express is also pushing its new fragrance for women on the homepage of the application.

Love Express is the company’s first-ever fragrance and is priced at $44.90.

Consumers can follow Express’ chief marketing officer @ExpressLisaG right through the application, adding a social element to the interactive experience.

“Branded apps enable retailers to maintain a more permanent relationship with the user since the app will live on the user’s phone, encouraging repeat brand awareness and visitation,” Mr. Taylor said. “Mobile offers a new viable channel through which retailers can access their customers.

“Smartphones allow brands to live in their customers’ pockets and provide an easy, on-the-go alternative to in-store shopping,” he said. “No longer do customers need to visit physical boutiques or browse entire department stores to find what they’re looking for. Instead, mobile helps create a more effective and expedited shopping experience.

“This could mean enhancing the in-store experience – quickly buying a size not available, comparing a shirt from the dressing room with another one in a different department by searching the mobile site – or powering shopping anywhere, anytime, thus avoiding in-store shopping all together.”

Mobile retail
Retailers are rushing to the App Store more than any other sector. They are taking a strategic approach to mobile by offering an optimized mobile Web site and rich applications.

An optimized mobile Web site is a great way to reach the greatest number of customers across all different types of mobile devices.

Applications allow for a more personal and loyal relationship with retail customers.

“The mobile app creates an unprecedented opportunity for retailers to develop a deep, engaging and personal mobile relationship with their customers that drives incremental revenue and retail brand experiences for the retailer – anytime and anywhere,” said Dan Lowden, vice president of marketing at Digby, Austin, TX.

With more than 65 million smartphones expecting to ship this year in the U.S. alone, retailers are moving now to embrace the mobile channel that also complements their Web, catalog and in-store channels.

Mr. Lowden said that there are a lot of benefits for retailers to offer rich applications for the iPhone, iPod touch, BlackBerry and Android device platforms:

• A captive audience within the application

• Brand in the hand as the consumer is carrying the retailers brand on their phone

• Higher average transaction rates as they typically are the retailer’s most loyal customers

• More frequent interaction due to convenience of it being visible on the phone anytime and anywhere

• Optimized per device type to take advantage of the unique features of specific phones (i.e. bar code scanning via the iPhone)

• Faster navigation due to pre-stored content within the application

• Faster checkout due to pre-stored billing information within the application

“Mobile represents a fundamental shift in the way consumers are discovering, buying and interacting with retailers,” Mr. Lowden said. “Consumers today demand rich, fast and easy-to-navigate retail experiences that are optimized for their mobile device and personalized to their needs when using it at home, when traveling or when in-store.

“Retailers who embrace the mobile channel in a strategic way by enabling an optimized mobile Web and rich app experience are best positioned to create a customer for life,” he said.

Final take
Giselle Tsirulnik is senior editor of Mobile Marketer and Mobile Commerce Daily