By Rimma Kats
Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s stores are testing mobile devices in select merchandise areas to engage customers with products and assist them with their purchase decisions.
This fall approximately 350 stores will be using tablets to help customers research and select skin care products at Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s Clinique counters. For shoes, Bloomingdale’s will be using mobile devices in five stores to help customers view and shop from a variety of styles and colors, including products at other Bloomingdale’s stores.
“Tablets [are something] new for us,” said Jim Sluzewski, senior vice president of corporate communications and external affairs at Macy’s, Cincinnati, OH.
“The Clinique counters are [equipped] with tablets and now customers can use them to select products and find out what skin care treatment is right for them,” he said.
Macy’s operates about 850 department stores in 45 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico under the names of Macy's and Bloomingdale's, as well as the macys.com and bloomingdales.com Web sites.
In addition to testing tablets at Clinique and shoe departments, Macy’s is also testing mobile devices in its fine jewelry departments.
Twenty-five Macy’s stores are beginning to use tablets to demonstrate product features and offer coordinating jewelry pieces that may not be available in that particular location.
In early October, Macy’s will begin testing Beauty Spot, a new cosmetics concept that lets customers search and select products from various product categories across multiple brands from a custom-designed kiosk to be located prominently on the selling floor.
A dedicated Beauty Spot concierge associate will be available to assist customers and process credit card transactions using a hand-held mobile device.
Beauty Spot will be tested in four Macy’s stores in New Jersey, Texas and Virginia.
In addition, six Macy’s stores in Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas will test Beauty Spot without touch screens.
“Beauty Spot is a great way for a customer to compare and contrast products,” Mr. Sluzewski said.
Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s are also enhancing their service and convenience by replacing signature pads at all 50,000 of its point-of-sale terminals with new customer response units developed by Verifone.
The rollout will be completed by fall 2012.
According to the company, the new customer response units enable it to test emerging transaction-processing technologies.
Among them is Google Wallet, a smartphone application currently being tested in 219 Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s stores in five markets including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington.
Google Wallet lets customers tap, pay and save when they use their phone as their wallet.
Currently, Google Wallet is available on a limited basis to users of Android Nexus S 4G smartphones on the Sprint Network who are holders of certain Citi MasterCards.
“Mobile plays an important role in our strategy,” Mr. Sluzewski said.