By Brianna Ahearn, contributing writer
Macy's and Bloomingdales announced on September 15 that the company is adding several new advances in the technology it uses to serve the needs of its shoppers for both brands. The Cincinnati-based company outlined the omnichannel strategy and technology it's implementing to serve customers more effectively. The additions represent a company cognizant of how technology can improve the customer experience. Among the innovation either pioneered or used by Macy's are Apple Pay, same day delivery, Macy's Wallet and more.
“Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s remain committed to operating at the forefront of innovation, as well as fostering a locally relevant shopping experience in every store. We will continue to test, to learn, and to proceed aggressively with new ideas that excite our customers and that make shopping more convenient and fun,” says Terry Lundgren, Macy's Inc's chairman and CEO.
As one of the first stores to support Apple Pay, Macy's has established itself as a forward thinking company when it comes to bridging technology with convenience. Apple Pay is Apple's new mobile payment system that officially rolls out in October. Macy's and Bloomingdale's will be letting consumers use Apple Pay on their iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus smartphones. The technology lets shoppers pay by bringing their device near the payment terminal, and then they must confirm the transaction. Macy's has already added a page outlining the basics of Apple Pay to Macys.com.
Apple Pay isn't the only point-of-sale change occurring at Macy's. A pilot program featuring tablets and POS devices is currently underway in Macy's stores in Georgia and New Jersey. The devices allow associates to improve customer engagement, speed up checkout, and offer valuable information for merchandise. Macy's also has Connect@Macy's Centers in a number of stores. These centers allow consumers to pick up their online orders in-store. Additionally, the stores feature stations and kiosks where shoppers an browse through merchandise and make purchases if desired. Macy's anticipates these features will be rolled out to additional stores in the company soon.
Same day delivery has been the target of many retailers lately, and Macy's is currently testing the option in four markets. The company has announced Macy's will offer same day delivery service in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New Jersey, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle and Washington D.C, while Bloomingdale's will offer the service in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose. The company has teamed up with Deliv, a crowd sourced delivery service whose list of participating retailers includes Teavana and Williams-Sonoma.
Macy's and Bloomingdales have also made shopping online easier, both through their apps and Macy's Wallet. Both brands now feature a redone shopping app that enhances the consumer experience. Gift registries and an improved checkout are among the improvements. The retailer plans to continue to add new features and improvements in later months. Another innovation that lets customers find exactly what they need is Macy's Image Search, an app that uses image recognition software. Users can take a photo of an outfit or accessory they come across, then the app will launch a visual search, displaying similar items. From there, the consumer can purchase the items from Macy's website.
The retailer tested Shopkick, a shopping app, during 2013's holiday season in New York and San Francisco. Upon seeing the success of Shopkick, Macy's has announced they'll embark on the largest implementation of iBeacon technology in the industry. More than 4,000 devices known as “shopBeacons” will aid consumers in shopping. The devices use Apple's Bluetooth to work with Shopkick to offer shoppers personalized content, recommendations, discounts and offers. The company expects to have the program fully implemented by fall 2014. The increased engagement will be an excellent marketing opportunity for Macy's and Bloomingdale's in 2014, particularly for the holiday shopping season.
Two new features will help Bloomingdale's and Macy's customers with their shopping this holiday season and beyond. Bloomingdale's now features “Smart Fitting Rooms,” where wall-mounted tablets allow associates and customers to scan merchandise to browse for colors and size options. The feature will also display recommended additional merchandise, such as accessories. Another digital feature consumers can enjoy will be the Macy's Fall Fashion direct mail catalog transformed into a “virtual diary of special content.” The tablet version will feature exclusive content, advice on fashion, personalized suggestions and more. Macy's will offer the feature for all three of its Fall Fashion catalogs.
As it has in the past, Macy's has looked to technology to find new ways to meet consumer demand, particularly when it comes to giving the personalized touch to shoppers. “Our goal remains to help our customers shop whenever, wherever and however they prefer, and to use the entire inventory of the company to satisfy demand,” says Lundgren.