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Macy’s Turns Toward Omnichannel, With Special Attention For ‘Micro-Moments’

The move comes as rival retailers like JCPenney and Target adopt seamless online-to-offline services.

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MAcy’s Chief Omnichannel Officer R. B. Harrison

Macy’s is restructuring its shopping experience to better align with the omnichannel shopping habits of today’s consumers in an acknowledgement the outdated divide between an “online customer” and an “in-store one.”

At the center of the department store chain’s marketing strategy, R. B. Harrison, Macy’s Chief Operating Officer, is the smartphone-centric idea of “micro-moments” championed by Google that has also influenced the approach of the NYTimes.com’s app-based content marketing approach.

In essence, the notion of micro-moments is a Digital Presence Management discipline that recognizes that consumers demand the same comprehensive and immediate access to product and store information they associate with online interactions as they make their way through their “offline” shopping lives.

“The customer’s changing incredibly fast Whether she is in a store or whether she’s on her phone, whether she’s commuting, whether she’s just out running errands, she wants to be a costly connected and in the moment,” says Harrison in a Google micro-moments video case study. “Whatever rate of change you think you need to move to be where she is you need to go faster.”

When the company found itself with two distinct categories of shoppers, online and offline, and two distinct ways of targeting them, they went “deep into the analytics” and discovered that the customers who cross the gap between the categories — i.e., “omnichannel shoppers” — are the ones that are the most valuable.

In fact, the company found that customers who engage with them in an omnichannel way are 8 times more likely to buy something than customers who remained in one shopping segment. However, Macy’s past attempts to satisfy consumers’ cross-channel desires were typically met with friction, such as an inability for their online shopping identity to be matched to their in-store experience.

“That conflict and misalignment of strategy is what gave rise to this omnichannel effort that we’ve been working on the last couple of years,” said Harrison.

Micro-moments, Macro Engagement

Google has advised marketers and retailers to focus on “micro-moments” over the past few months as one of its primary marketing values. The search giant defines these micro-moments as those small impulsive searches for a particular service or product “right now.” Examples include a person searching for “food near me” on their phone and expecting to be led to the closest and best location.Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 1.16.25 PM

For Macy’s, those micro-moments could come in the form of a customer showing an in-store sales rep a product they saw on the brand’s mobile site. The result could include being promptly led to where to find this item in-store, whether to try on/inspect, or to skip straight to the purchase via mobile payment.

Macy’s isn’t the only one making use of these micro-moments and omnichannel strategies.

On the publisher side, the NYTimes’ version of “mobile moments” presents users with quick, branded content at a glance through the NYT app. In the meantime, Target has staked its turnaround on an omnichannel overhaul by accepting Apple Pay, adding express checkout via mobile app, providing aisle navigation using LED-to-smartphone lighting signals, and digital-to-physical pickup. More recently, Target has been testing beacons at 50 stores with a plan to roll its proximity marketing program out to all its 1,800 US locations.

Lastly, JCPenney has been building up its cross-platform marketing programs with the hire of two executives, Michael Amend and Mike Robbins, as heads of the department store chain’s newly dedicated omnichannel department.

Still, as consumers’ idea of digital and physical shopping converge, the term omnichannel may soon seem anachronistic. But at this point, as Macy’s Harrison notes, retailers are still playing catchup to consumers when it comes to creating the on-demand, seamless shopping experience.

About The Author
Daniel Parisi Daniel Parisi @daniel_parisi_

Daniel Parisi is a New York City-based writer and recent graduate of the University of Maryland. Daniel specializes in coverage of mobile payments, loyalty programs, and the Internet of Things.