SXSW Mobile Saturday Recap: Revenge of the Bricks, Driven by Clicks

We get it — a lot goes on at events and SXSW Interactive is no exception, so it’s easy for everything to meld together. But good news! We’re here to help — here we’ll recap the third of our five Mobile Saturday panels to share key takeaways and themes so you can maximize your learning.

Over the last three years, mobile’s influence on offline purchases has grown 500%, with digital now influencing 64% of all physical purchases. And the retailers in the third Mobile Saturday panel “Revenge of the Bricks, Driven by Clicks,” confirmed this shift to digital domination. The panel explored topics such as building an omni-channel strategy, app features that create a better shopping experience as well as bridging the offline and online experience.

Revenge of the bricks - Driven by clicks session. Mobile is becoming the front door to the brands #mobilesat #SXSW2016

— Charlene Assels (@charassels) March 12, 2016

Message Center is a Powerful Tool for Retailers

When each panelist described their app and how it enhances their shoppers’ experience, they each noted the importance of having an in-app message center. Express’ Vice President of Digital Marketing Eric Gohs commented on the personal nature of an app’s message center, noting that brands must seriously consider the relevance of their messaging on this channel. “It’s not batch and blast,” said Gohs. “Be judicious.” Express uses its message center to share the latest arrivals, special features/themes or sales.

For Kerry Borland, mobile product manager at Nordstrom, a message center helps personalize and inform the user about status updates. “Our message center, in partnership with Urban Airship, takes a personal approach,” she said. Nordstrom sends messages such as “Good news.  Your order is on its way.” through the message center to move closer to 1:1 communication with shoppers. The Nordstrom app also features a personalized homepage to quickly and easily start users on their shopping journey.

Outdoor retailer REI’s Jessie Morris, mobile program manager, ensures every message in their message center provides utility to their shopper, including “anything that’s going to drive value for them,” she said. For example, every year REI members get a dividend — information about their return is housed in the message center. Morris says they share “something your shopper cares about rather than fluff.”

Bridging the Digital App Experience With In-Store with Location

Something all three retail experts agreed on is that bringing together a user’s digital interaction with that of in-store is paramount to brand success. Using location in apps helps realize this goal, so properly educating users on why they should opt-in to location sharing is especially important. Borland said there are “a lot of ways you can prime, rather than the standard OS hard-ask,” and that a best practice is to offer a “contextual piece prior to that explaining how/why you’ll use the information.”

Nordstrom uses location with its app to give shoppers real-time in-store inventory to help people locate an item and drive them back to the store. “That way [shoppers] can still go in and touch/feel the product, since that’s still huge,” said Borland. Nordstrom also provides access to user’s Nordstrom Notes digitally and uses near-store notifications to remind users about an unused Note or an item they have in their digital shopping cart, encouraging the user to come in and check it out.

Express employs on-site visits from product managers to help unite the physical and digital, sending its product managers to the store to talk with customers, get them to test a prototype and gather feedback. Gohs says this approach “doesn’t cost money, just takes curiosity.”

With an overall focus on getting members outdoors, REI works to make its customers’ in-store experience great — using Wi-Fi to allow app users to scan barcodes and check product information. Morris said “over the years, we’ve seen logins increase [and] barcode scans continue to increase. Customers really want that product information,” she says. The app experience aims to parallel expertise of the in-store employees in the green vests, since they’re the product experts. Morris noted that when content in the app is more location-based and personalized, “conversion really increases.”

Mobile wallet also helps REI members make the most out of their digital and physical shopping experience. For REI, Morris says “working with Urban Airship, one of the things we use is digital wallet — it’s easy to set up [and] has a really big physical and in-store impact.” Using mobile wallet, REI can notify members when they are near a store and trigger their membership card or coupon. This means that REI helps their most engaged mobile audience be “the first to know when there’s a new offer — especially when there’s limited inventory.”

Key for driving in-store behavior with mobile: engaging content, easy/efficient experience, rewards loyalty #mobilesat #sxsw @amerrit

— Mia Hegazy (@MiaHegazy) March 12, 2016

Creating a Unified Omni-channel Experience

Brands working to unify their data to achieve omni-channel success is central to their overall marketing strategy. However, achieving this can still prove to be a lengthy, sometimes challenging, process for brands.

Nordstrom uses data to help serve a better customer experience via improved item recommendations based on categories a user shops most. Nordstrom has a dedicated team focused on bridging in-store and online data to unify that omni-channel experience. Similarly, REI uses location data to provide a more personalized shopping experience for its users.

Express is aiming to knit the different customer contact points together. The challenge: “figuring out how are we talking to that customer in multiple ways so different elements know and support each other, rather than saying the same thing,” Gohs said. Express has enabled in-store pick-up from an omni-channel perspective, so if a user orders via app, they can pick it up at their nearest store.

Each retailer is helping to unify its shoppers’ omni-channel experience by using location and data to improve the customer experience. In the future, each panelist was planning to continue unifying the experience across these different channels to serve the customer even better.

To get the whole scoop on takeaways from our Mobile Saturday event, download our overview: 15 Key Insights from Mobile Saturday at SXSW, and check back for our other panel recap blog posts.