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Macy's CMO Inducted into Mobile Hall of Fame

Macy's CMO Inducted into Mobile Hall of Fame Katharine Panessidi
This morning at the fifth annual Mcommerce Summit: State of Mobile Commerce 2015, Macy’s CMO Martine Reardon was inducted to Mobile Commerce Daily’s Mobile Hall of Fame. Citing outstanding leadership evangelizing mobile within the retail industry and at forums nationwide, Reardon joined past honorees Tom Daly of Coca-Cola and the late great Steve Jobs of Apple.

In a conversation with Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer’s Editor in Chief Mickey Alam Kahn, Reardon revealed some of the strategies that have earned her and her team this honor.

The stakes are high. Per Goldman Sachs & Co., mobile commerce last year – all sales generated via smartphones and tablets – was measured at $204 billion, a number set to increase by nearly 50 percent this year and to top $415 billion in 2016. However, mobile’s impact on driving sales to retail stores is even higher: hard to calculate but easy to recognize in its influencing potential.

Reardon and her team have taken note, recognizing that in order to stay relevant, retailers must adapt to the customer’s behavior. Today mobile represents about 50% of Macy’s online traffic; so as a result they’ve adapted a mobile-first strategy. In this conversation, Reardon shared how Macy’s omnichannel strategy has come to life over the last 5 years, as they have worked to combine both digital and physical to become media agnostic – or “digical.” In everything they do, the Macy’s team thinks about the customer first. They’ve made changes to better develop and present its merchandise seamlessly across channels and present a single omnichannel view to shoppers in all product categories.

Here are a few steps the organization has taken along this transformative journey.

In January 2015, Macy’s underwent a major reorganization, which unified the previously independently operated online and offline P&L’s. It has not been without its challenges, but it's been a relatively smooth transition due to the fact that around three years ago, the organization recognized omnichannel as the future. At that point, the two P&L’s began working together as one unit, knowing that the alternative was a confusing and poor customer experience. The teams worked in lock step together, without a care for idea origin or which budget line was funding programs. As a result, this year's official move to blend the organizations has been a lot easier because of the comfort level of employees working across teams.

The digical strategy has manifested itself in several ways for the customer.

First and foremost, mobile activation in the store. Reardon and the team at Macy’s has enabled 150,000 associates in 45 states across the country with mobile devices in their hands – either iPhones or iTouches. Reardon and the Macy’s team recognize that associates are the ambassadors for the Macy’s brand: the first line that the consumer reaches when they get into the physical space. With this move, the organization has ensured that associates are equipped with as much information as the consumers who are constantly empowered by their devices. Associates have access to inventory and product information via the mobile devices. They can request that an item is brought to them from the stock room, shoes in the right size for example, so that the interaction between the consumer and the associate is never interrupted. Customers can also transaction through the associate’s mobile device rather than waiting on line.

If the customer is not speaking with an associate, the Macy’s app incorporates useful new features to act as the consumer’s personal assistant. One of these features is a barcode scanner, which displays the price, available sizes and colors, customer reviews, and more. The newest functionality, is the ability to purchase an item from the app, as well as purchase and ship to home.

A few other ways Macy’s is using mobile:

For the past four years, Macy’s has worked with ShopKick, which enables the mobile device to reward existing customers for walking into stores. Push notifications have become a strong strategy to get folks into stores, via geotargeting with very relevant and contextual content.

Tracking and targeting someone who came to the store but didn’t buy is on Macy’s roadmap. Currently beacons in stores help women who have opted into the app and have Bluetooth enabled when they’re in the store. One manifestation of this going forward could include a special offer pushed to someone who looked at a bag but walked away. There are many challenges with this, including that not everyone has Bluetooth enabled, or the app open. However, Macy’s recognizes the potential of sending the right, relevant offer, so this is something they are working on.

How does Macy’s keep up with the rapid pace of technology change, which affects marketing, customer interaction, and so on?

Since Macy's customers expect the company to keep up, the convergence of marketing and technology is top of mind for Reardon and her team. The reorganization has been key to staying ahead of the curve. Reardon works in lock step with the CIO. For the most part, Macy’s builds its own tech; but as the pace of change increases, they’re also thinking about integration of third party expertise. However, they will be selective to tech that solves a problem for the consumer – making her shopping experience easier, more fun, or simpler. They have appointed an Innovation Officer to focus on nothing but innovation and road mapping.

Additionally, in order to keep up with the changing landscape, Macy’s has opened an innovation lab, called the Idea Lab, in San Francisco. The lab is a breeding ground for big ideas and where field testing of new technology is run. For example, the lab recently added visual search to the Macy's app. They first launched visual search in the app store as its own, independent app in beta with no marketing around it. They let people play with it, got feedback, and ultimately incorporated it into the Macy’s app. Now people are searching items in store with it, but the feature is still in iteration, as they collect data on how customers really want to use it.

What’s in store for the future?

As Reardon explains, “We’re extremely curious. We’re getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.” For many years Macy’s wouldn’t act on something unless it was perfect, but now there only needs to be a germ of an idea for the team to test and iterate.

Kudos to Reardon and the entire Macy's team for leading a legacy brand into the future with seemingly fearless leadership. We could all learn a thing or two from your example.

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