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Vanity taps beacons to swing open dressing room rewards

Women’s retailer Vanity is joining forces with mobile shopping companion shopkick to offer customers rewards for visiting the dressing room, a tactic which other brands may leverage to ramp up in-store sales.

The fashion retailer is now offering shopkick users “kicks,” or rewards, for visiting a bricks-and-mortar location or making a purchase. In the near future, Vanity will also allow customers to receive additional kicks for trying on items in a dressing room, thanks to a beacon technology deployment at 150 of its stores in the United States.

“Conversion rates increase exponentially once customers visit the fitting room,” said Cyriac Roeding, CEO of shopkick, Redwood City, CA. “So it becomes important to reward shoppers for this activity as it can mean a big return for retailers.

“As we look forward, we are exploring the possibility of providing kicks to our users for trying on clothes at Vanity. It is definitely a trend we expect to see more of in the future.”

Rewarding customer behavior
While several retailers have already implemented shopkick’s platform to provide visitors with welcome bonuses, Vanity is taking its partnership one step further to reward a common customer behavior. In the next few months, consumers will be able to accumulate extra kicks when they visit the dressing room.

This strategy will likely result in a significant uptick in sales. If consumers walk in with the intention to browse and spot an intriguing item, the promise of receiving extra rewards can easily prompt them to try the product on.

This way, shoppers that were previously not thinking of buying a specific item may be fueled to make a purchase if they like the way the apparel or accessories look.

Vanity is seeking to deploy this strategy during the holiday season, a prime shopping period in which consumers are prone to making impulse purchases. Shopkick is planning to install two beacon devices at each Vanity location.

One will be stationed at the door to send greeting rewards to customers, while another will be posted by the fitting rooms to target shoppers with unique messages.

Other retailers may jump on this tactic in the near future, as it provides an optimal way of reaching new consumers who may not have previously bought apparel with the brand.

Vanity has also found that its customers are eager to receive more kicks in exchange for interaction with the marketer, as well as information on promotions. The ubiquity of mobile devices makes it easy for beacons to deliver this relevant content to consumers on premises or nearby a bricks-and-mortar store.

“Beacons proved their worth last holiday season when they were in the testing phase with many retailers,” said Jeff Hasen, founder of Gotta Mobilize and author of The Art of Mobile Persuasion. “The key is to set up business rules, much like shopkick and Vanity have done, so push notifications don’t become overbearing or an intrusion.

“The smart retailers are employing beacons, but also bringing to the store other ways for mobile shoppers to engage, including the use of Wi-Fi and messaging,” he said. “Choice is the killer app, as Macy’s and others have shown.

“Some mobile owners will want to download a retailer’s app and accept notifications. Others will prefer to go to a consumer-friendly Web site, receive info via message, or elect to scan a code. Give ’em what they want.”

Additionally, shopkick maintains partnerships with brands including American Eagle Outfitters, Macy’s, JCPenney, The Sports Authority and Best Buy.

Beacons’ growing influence
Shoppers are turning to their smartphones for browsing and purchasing help more than ever these days, meaning that brands are at a major disadvantage if they do not offer rewards of their own or team up with a third-party solution.

The rising amount of beacon deployments in malls will make leveraging mobile shopping companions a paramount strategy for any marketer.

“Having a beacon for entry into the store is the obvious play and I like that,” said Scott Michaels, vice president of client engagement at ArcTouch, San Francisco. “For all the right reasons, it’s a time to engage the customer, especially those who are aware of the shopkick/Vanity relationship.”

Shopkick has doubled its users in the past year to a whopping 15 million, partially due to the shopping companion’s wide-scale deployment of beacons in major retail stores, which focus on offering consumers rewards rather than banal product information (see story).

“Vanity customers were actually very interested in the shopkick experience, which led to this exciting partnership,” shopkick’s Mr. Roeding said. “Vanity has such a dedicated following, so we anticipate many shopkick users enjoying earning kicks at Vanity stores nationwide, ultimately driving both incremental foot traffic and sales for Vanity.”

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