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Barneys New York Brings Beacons, Same-Day Delivery To New Manhattan Flagship

‘We’re proud of the way we’ve used our customer data online and offline to be fluidly connected,' said Barneys’ VP of digital. ‘It allows for a personalized, consistent experience in-store and online.’

Barneys New York is digitizing its newly reopened flagship in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, rolling out a full beacon network, introducing “connected” sales associates, and enabling same-day delivery.

The purpose of the digital facelift is two-fold: It helps Barneys bridge the digital and physical worlds for consumers whose purchase journey now involves mobile, desktop, and in-store action — as well as provide the personalized experience that shoppers expect in today’s on-demand world.

“The opening of the new Downtown flagship is a unique homecoming for Barneys New York,” said Barneys New York CEO Mark Lee of the Chelsea location, which happens to be the site of the first ever Barneys men’s store. “Born as a single brick-and-mortar location over 90 years ago, Barneys New York returns to the same New York City block as a modern 21st century retail force that will offer… a unique and unprecedented customer experience.”

Here’s a breakdown of how Barneys plans communicate with its mobile consumers — and capture its share of the over 90 percent of purchases still taking place in physical stores.

Beacon Build Out

With the newly launched iBeacon platform, users who open the Barneys New York app now see two prompts: The first is to permit push notifications, and the second is to allow Barneys to use customers’ location to determine if they’re in or near a Barneys store.

Once users say yes, Barneys will push out editorial content from in-house publication The Window, which include interviews with designers, seasonal lookbooks, and more. For in-store customers, content is more targeted and personal: the app might send notifications or recommendations based on what’s in stock that is also in users’ digital shopping bags or wish lists.

“The most important touchpoint is the phone,” Matthew Woolsey, Barneys VP of digital, told Digiday. “We’re proud of the way we’ve used our customer data online and offline to be fluidly connected — it allows for a personalized, consistent experience in store and online.”

Barneys is smart to cater to shoppers’ increased desires for personalization — and to make the most of the fact that the majority of consumers shop with their smartphones in hand. That said, a few aspects of the retailer’s beacon program appear to be more aligned with customer desires than others.

The good: Barneys beacon-triggered recommendations for restaurants and other attractions in the Chelsea neighborhood, for one. This provides clear, location-based relevancy for shoppers who are looking for a bite to eat or their next activity — and it doesn’t feel designed to directly push Barneys merchandise, which helps customers feel that their interactions with the store are more “genuine.”

Practical too is the functionality that gives an asked-for reminder about in-cart and wish list items; using technology to tie together online and offline habits — and help consumers seamlessly buy products they were interested in already — is the name of the game when it comes to building relationships with consumers.

These are example of successful location-based, in-app communication because they think beyond simple push notifications for offers or content. It’s a delicate balance to keep alerts from annoying customers; even those who opt in are often overwhelmed by frequent communication that feels like a store is talking “at” them instead of “to” them. Barneys will surely strike a balance in the coming weeks as customers opt-in to the program and shop at the new flagship, but the retailer will have to be careful with notifications and pushed content from The Window.

The Full Connection

Looking beyond engaging consumers through their smartphones, Barneys is looking to help them have a more seamless checkout experiences. Every salesperson will be equipped with and iPad in order to better personalize the shopping experience. Frequent customers will be identifiable by their in-store and online purchase history, and shoppers can also checkout on the iPads with Apple Pay.

Barneys COO Daniella Vitale wrote in the new flagship announcement that the goal is to seamlessly integrate technology, staff, and the customer, and this in-store overhaul is complemented by the recent digital redesigns of both Barneys.com and The Window to be responsive on mobile.

The final piece of the puzzle is the addition of same-day delivery. Barneys now joins the likes of Net-a-Porter and Amazon, enabling customers in Manhattan and Brooklyn to receive their items the day of their order. While many will still flock to Barneys decked-out flagship locations, omnichannel retailing is all about empowering on-the-go consumers to purchase and receive what they need in the way that is most convenient for them in the moment — be it through mobile ordering and same-day delivery, in-store pick up, or physical shopping.

And while data suggests that customers tend to prefer free shipping to faster shipping (this option will cost an extra $25), the higher-income clientele that patronizes Barneys is likely to be the same demographic that doesn’t bat an eye at paying extra for the convenience of similar on-demand services like Postmates.

“Luxury is at a place where we can make strategic investments for our brand, rather than playing catch up everywhere,” Woolsey said. “The goal is to create an elevated customer expectation.”