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Macy's CEO gives thumbs-up to mobile at summit

LAS VEGAS ? Within the first five minutes of his keynote at annual summit, Macy's chairman/CEO Terry Lundgren unveiled a major mobile initiative.

The fact that one of the country?s largest retailers spoke about mobile at a show that is not specifically focused on the channel says a lot in terms of where our industry is going. Mr. Lundgren announced that Macy?s will be launching a mobile commerce application before the end of this year.

?It?ll be one of the most advanced applications offered by any retailer,? Mr. Lundgren said. ?Our mobile commerce sales are expected to grow [exponentially] in the next three years.?

Macy?s not only has a successful retail business, but the company has been able to attract sales through the integration of online into its overall business strategy. Now mobile is to become a part of the Macy?s business model as well.

Macy?s history is an interesting one.

The company first launched in 1858 with just one retail location in New York City. Today Macy?s stands with 800 retail locations nationwide for the Macy?s brand and 40 Bloomingdale?s locations.

Macy?s has online and mobile presence, through a mobile optimized site that was launched earlier this year.

Mr. Lundgren said that he attributes his company?s success to its deepening multichannel integration strategy, which focuses primarily on the 360-degree view of the customer.

The multichannel strategy also focuses on providing a seamless experience for customers whether they are in-store, online or out and about.

Macy?s direct-to-consumer sales are expected to exceed $1 billion annually this year for the very first time in the company?s history.

The reason for this incredible success may be in part due to the fact that the company has launched several new direct-to-consumer fulfillment centers nationwide.

Mr. Lundgren talked about product reviews on

?Consumers truly value the opinion of other consumers,? Mr. Lundgren said. ?Opinions of fellow consumers are highly credible and we encourage the exchange of information.

?People are more than happy to tell you that something did not work out well for them,? he said. ?So it is actually a great way to find out how your customers feel about specific products.

?And if you get bad reviews from a lot of customers for the same product, most likely it?s a bad product and not bad customers.?

Macy?s customers can use the company?s online site to find stores near by, browse fashion, purchase products and see what Macy?s is up to.

Consumers can also opt-in for mobile alerts from Macy?s by texting MACYS to short code 62297.

?Social media has brought power and relevancy to the retail industry,? Mr. Lundgren said.

Macy?s has more than 75,000 Facebook followers, just after 3 weeks of launching a profile on the social media site.

The company also has a Twitter feed and a YouTube channel.

Mr. Lundgren gave three examples of multichannel marketing: The Clinton Kelley and Macy?s Make Over America Campaign, The Macy?s Parade and the Come Together campaign.

He did not mention mobile components to any of the three campaigns.

However, Bloomingdale?s is using mobile for its fall fashion campaign ? Lights, Camera, Fashion ? and adding an element of interactivity to engage with customers in a new way.

Three to five minute films that were shot and produced entirely in New York over the course of 15 days will be shown in all Bloomingdale?s stores and on the Web site. Shoppers will then have the opportunity to vote for their favorite BFlix film via SMS or

Bloomingdale?s first foray into mobile was during its Girls' Night Out campaign in August.

The campaign centered around 19 up-and-coming actresses performing a screen test for director Jennifer Venditti.

The girls were filmed and photographed in Bloomingdale?s? contemporary fashions. The results became its contemporary sportswear catalog and two short films which were screened at Bloomingdale? and in stores.

That effort let customers vote for their favorite of the 19 girls via SMS or online via a special microsite (see story).

At the end of the keynote, Tracy Mullin, president/CEO of the National Retail Federation did a short question and answer session with Mr. Lundgren.

The main takeaway was that consumers are evolving as shoppers and that smart, savvy retailers will evolve along with them because ? at the end of the day ? it is all about the customer.

?A lot of people were really skeptical of the Internet when it first launched,? Mr. Lundgren said. ?I was at a conference in ?96 and was asked whether I was worried that an online shopping site would take shoppers out of Macy?s stores.

?My reply was that I was only worried that they would shop with someone else online if we did not provide that utility,? he said.

Ms. Mullin asked about organizational change with a new shopping platform.

?You need collaboration among the group,"  Mr. Lundgren said. "The talent and the way they work together is the key point.?