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Vitamin Shoppe slowly but surely making mobile a priority

NEW YORK – With a new mobile application on the horizon, Vitamin Shoppe is in the middle of a slow but steady modernization effort to bring real mobile value to its customers.

An executive from the company spoke at Mobile Marketer’s Mobile FirstLook Conference this week in a talk called Targeting a Seamless Retail Experience for Increased Wallet Share, outlining the ways in which the company has sought to improve its physical retail experience through mobile. A new mobile app, a mobile Web site and integrated social media are just a few of the ways Vitamin Shoppe is doing this.

“The new customer journey is not linear,” said Rose Hamilton, chief digital officer of Vitamin Shoppe. “They go all over the place, try different stores, try different products and places.

“We need to be present at every step, ready to accept them when they come back.”

Mobile modernization
In the modern retail climate, many big retailers have brought mobile into the forefront, making it a key part of the customer experience.

Retailers who have always had a strong online component have been particularly keen to make use of mobile.

But even retailers that are traditionally bricks-and-mortar-focused still need to be able to offer their customers some sort of digital-through line to every aspect of the experience, due to the changing nature of customer journeys.

The Vitamin Shoppe is one such brand. While the retailer has had an online store for a few years, Vitamin Shoppe has always focused on the physical experience.

But now, in order to keep up with the changing habits of its customers thanks to the disruptive nature of mobile, Vitamin Shoppe has embarked on a slow but steady effort to add more mobile value to its consumers, thanks to a currently in beta mobile app as well as a revamped mobile Web site and social media.

Just a few years ago, Vitamin Shoppe’s mobile and digital presence was secondary to its physical experience. The company is trying to change that now.

“We didn’t always have a seamless experience across different channels, in terms of our Web site,” Ms. Hamilton said. “Now we’ve moved to easy, fast navigation across desktop and mobile.

“These are all things are customers have told us are important to them.”

In addition to a newly designed Web site, the brand is currently beta testing a consumer app that lets customers scan products to get info. This is important since health and wellness is an industry where customer education is paramount.

Nourishing bodies
Ms. Hamilton emphasized mobile’s ability to turn regular customers into what she calls “passionate evangelists” for the brand.

But turning someone into a passionate evangelist is not easy. It requires giving them something that goes beyond the standard retail experience.

Vitamin Shoppe has been focusing on recruiting and bringing in health professionals and experts to educate customers and give them a specific reason to come into the physical store.

From there, the brand has tapped into live social media, such as Facebook Live, to bring an experience that happens at one specific location beyond just that store.

Finally, Vitamin Shoppe has been using mobile devices called V Books to let their employees easily search for and find information on products and customers while helping customers on the floor.

“This alone is helping us increase engagement in stores,” Ms. Hamilton said. “It’s not glamorous, but it’s functional and it’s effective.”