Interview: Macy’s may use beacons for recommendations and connect it with its click&collect-service.von Christian Bach am 09.Oktober 2014 in Interviews
“In the future, I believe we can be using beacons for things like directing customers to the ‘Buy Online Pickup In Store’-desk, or recommending complementary products”, Kevin Gardiner, Director of Store Operations and Strategies for the Macy’s Flagship store in Chicago, told Location Insider. For now the US department store is using the bluetooth low energy technology to push deals. “Beacons are a great technology that bring some of the push and pull benefits of online shopping into physical retail”, Gardiner added. Just during September Macy’s first rolled out a US wide beacon installation, same-day delivery in eight markets and launched a new app. “Macy’s Image Search” is based on an image search technology which allows shoppers to take a picture of a product and buy it online at macys.com. “As for the Christmas season, we are well into the process of hiring 86,000 seasonal associates in our stores, distribution centers, and contact centers”, Gardiner said. He will speak at “Neocom 2014” in Düsseldorf (Germany) at a panel called “Are you a Customer Service Innovator? An international practice report.”
Location Insider: You work as “Director, Store Operations & Strategies” at Macy’s. Be honest: Do you buy mostly online or offline?
Kevin Gardiner: While the majority of my overall purchasing is done online, I still buy most of my food and clothing offline. My office is in the Macy’s Flagship store on State Street in Chicago…it’s one of the biggest and most beautiful stores in all of retail. When you work in that environment, you find yourself purchasing in the store quite often…we have an incredible assortment.
Location Insider: At “Neocom 2014” in Düsseldorf (Germany) your panel is called: “Are you a Customer Service Innovator? An international practice report.” Why is Macy’s a Customer Service Innovator?
Kevin Gardiner: Macy’s puts the customer at the center of our business decisions. To do that, we pull together cross-functional teams and meetings from around the company to ensure that we consider the customer experience from all angles: online, brick and mortar, systems, customer service, and logistics. It’s these types of forums that help us to innovate for the customer and prioritize the enhancements and initiatives that will improve her overall shopping experience (online and offline).
Location Insider: In September Macy’s launched “Macy’s Image Search”. The mobile app allows shoppers to scan a product and buy it (or a similar one) online at Macy’s. We called it a second Fire Phone. Did you take Amazon’s smartphone as a model?
Kevin Gardiner: Like most retailers, we watch Amazon very closely. However, I was not a part of the “image search” team, so I cannot say for sure whether Amazon inspired the app.
Location Insider: Let’s talk beacons. It’s a boom technology. Apple uses it, all the baseball stadiums in the U.S. already provide BLE-transmitters and many companies are testing beacons. How come that Macy’s is one of the first retailers using beacons nationwide and why?
Kevin Gardiner: While our bread and butter is our product assortment and value, Fast Company named us one of the most innovative companies in retail because of the advances we’ve made in creating an “everywhere retail”–or Omnichannel–experience. Beacons are a great technology that bring some of the push and pull benefits of online shopping into physical retail.
Location Insider: What problems arose while testing beacon-technology the past year in New York City and in San Francisco?
Kevin Gardiner: While we are constantly learning and enhancing, I am not privy to any major issues that arose during testing in NYC or San Francisco.
Location Insider: Do you “only” use beacons for pushing deals? What other values do you want to provide for your consumers and how do you want to connect this technology to other services (click&collect, same day delivery etc.)?
Kevin Gardiner: As with other technologies, our focus is to enhance the customer’s shopping experience. Pushing deals is certainly a big part of it; but in the future, I believe we can be using beacons for things like directing customers to the “Buy Online Pickup In Store” desk, or recommending complementary products.
Location Insider: What are Macy’s plans for this year and how do you prepare for Christmas season?
Kevin Gardiner: Expanding store fulfillment and “buy online pickup in store” have been two of my favorite initiatives this year. We’re also about to rollout same-day delivery in several markets. As for the Christmas season, we are well into the process of hiring 86,000 seasonal associates in our stores, distribution centers, and contact centers…we need to ensure that we ramp up the size of our workforce to meet the needs of our holiday shoppers, while maintaining the high level of service that our customers expect.
Location Insider: Thank you very much for the interview.
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