US retail giant embraces digital

US retail giant Macy’s is the epitome of bricks and mortar, but even they are having to yield to a digital presence. Here’s a look at how they have embraced the digital age. 

Every country has a store like Macy’s, but whether that be a Myer, David Jones or Harrods, each is having to come to terms with a new digital age.

Ecommerce sales in Australia reached a record high in the year to November 2012, with consumers spending some $12.6 billion online, according to National Australia Bank.

The value of online sales in Australia is forecast to increase further during 2013 which is a major call to action for retailers which have conventionally relied on in store revenue.

Consumer insight has proved to be the biggest magnet for retailers online, with more data than ever available to mould decisions and tailor offerings. In-store cards have served as information portals until now, but with a wealth of data being generated on the web, bricks and mortar staples such as Macy’s are looking to extract more insight by going digital.

What’s more, in an age where consumers are more connected and demanding multiple touchpoints in which to make a purchase, having an omnipresence will be the only way in which retailers can survive.

How did Macy’s adapt?

Macy’s has been outperforming the major retailers in the US particularly at Christmas, where the chain logged a 4.1 per cent December gain in same-store sales, led by a 52 per cent increase in online sales.

“We have taken a number of steps to make the shopping experience online mirror the stores, and vice versa,” said Jeff Kantor, chairman of Macys.com. “We want customers to be able to shop Macy’s whenever, wherever and however they prefer. Reaching customers through stores, online and mobile gives us a lot of flexibility.”

By diversifying the number of touchpoints in which consumers can engage with the brand, Macy’s has opened up new avenues which have turned into proverbial cash cows. For other retailers looking to do the same, here are a few insights into how the bricks and mortar staple gave way to digital omnipresence:

1. Expand online:

Macy’s has diversified its online offering by making services available across several platforms. To support this growth, it greatly improved its inventory strategy by building new warehouses and drafting nearly 300 stores to act as e-commerce fulfillment centers.

2. Innovate in store

Omnipresence requires innovations to be carried out across all platforms, and Macy’s has modernised its in-store experience by adding new technology. The Herald Square flagship, for example, uses tablet devices in its shoe department as cash registers to streamline the checkout process.

3. Keep a track

To make this a legacy investment, obtaining data and putting the information to use will be essential for retailers to understand what consumers like to do and where. In a digital world, modernisation means a constant evolution of company processes, and having good insight on hand is essential in making this work.

4. Have a plan

As a retailer – particularly if you are yet to engage in e-commerce you need to have a clear strategy. Furthermore retailers need to be able to effectively engage across multiple channels and have the capabilities to measure this engagement. This can be complex in a world where consumers are engaging across multiple channels and expecting seamless integration every step of the way.

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