Each month, mobile growth in the U.S. and abroad, particularly in China (where new data reveals there are now 460 million mobile phone users), reminds us of what we already know: mobile is the future, and the future is mobile. For the 40 global department stores we assessed in our new 2013 Digital IQ Index: Department Stores report, this is particularly true. As L2 founder Scott Galloway articulated in a recent video interview about Amazon’s retail ambitions, it is ‘the guys in the middle’ like department stores that are at the greatest risk of becoming obselete in this increasingly digital age. To stay in the game, and in some cases, pioneer a new path for the sector, some of the more innovative department stores have invested big in mobile strategy. Among those, none have been more successful than Macy’s, this year’s second-ranked Digital “Genius” and the top performer in last year’s Specialty Retail Index.
The cornerstone of Macy’s mobile offerings is its primary app, which, in a strategic update just prior to last November’s Black Friday, alerted users to secret specials and included helpful features like shareable shopping lists, product scanning, and store-specific merchandise look-up. Macy’s multichannel-focused app, which is available on both iOS and Android, has been rated almost 7,000 times on iTunes alone, dwarfing the Index average of 840. In the store’s 2012 edition of its Thanksgiving Day Parade app (it was introduced in 2011), Macy’s included some whimsy with the practical, adding a real-time Santa Tracker and an “Elf-O-Matic” augmented reality game that allowed its younger users to superimpose their own photos onto parade balloons and share the images over email and on various social media platforms. The success of all three of these apps is well-documented; in 2011, the Parade app was downloaded more than 40K times, and though there are no numbers released for last year’s edition, it rankws among the Top 25 in the Entertainment category on the iTunes store.
Though outstanding when it comes to Christmas and pre-Christmas marketing, Macy’s mobile strategy isn’t entirely holiday-driven. On the store’s other major shopping day of the year, Mother’s Day, Macy’s launched an iAd campaign that directed Pandora users to its e-commerce site to download a mobile coupon redeemable in-store. And continuing its partnership with NBC’s popular “Fashion Star,” Macy’s used mobile in new ways to both promote the show and expand the store’s mobile footprint. Most notably, on the Fashion Star microsite, which is optimized for tablets and phones, viewers could shop for looks as they debuted on TV–targeting that large percentage of us who make a habit of watching, browsing, and buying at night.
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