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Furniture retailers shrug off geofencing, prefer mobile Web over apps

PHILADELPHIA ? Furniture retailers Lovesac, Design Within Reach and Steelcase as well as organization solutions provider The Container Store see online research and store location information as their customers' primary mobile needs and are therefore investing in mobile sites over applications.

During a panel discussion on the execution of omnichannel strategies at eTail East 2014, the four executives shrugged to the mentioning of geofencing, claiming efforts to market their products on an app is not part of their immediate plans. While serving as more of a point of research and location tracking, these mobile sites lack commercial traffic driving marketers away from encouraging those possibilities and remaining as mediocre executions.

?Customers aren?t going to get a text or email from us when they enter a store or drive by one,? said Jessica Coogan, online marketing director at The Container Store, San Antonio.
Pinging an alert?
While the use of push notifications is on the rise, they serve as influencers to notify coordinating app users when they are near a store location and offer an incentive or discount. ?

Based on feedback from participating executives in the panel discussion, apps could likely serve as a platform for push notifications to be executed to further drive in-store traffic.

Design Within Reach executives claim its customers primarily use the mobile site to conduct product research and will visit in-store and use their mobile devices to reference items they have saved. That said, if the majority of purchases are occurring in-store, marketers must first get them there. 

Existing attempts?
The Container Store has recently seen success in its click and pick up initiative utilizing online purchases and store pick up, but still does not see mobile as a prime channel for purchases.

While a growing focus is online for these companies, mobile initiatives have not crossed onto a commercial path.

Steelcase has attempted to improve its shipping times and interest based targeting efforts but does not value the potential power that location-based push notifications could enforce.

Lovesac has been steadfastly working through communication between itself and the customer through tools such as live chat, shipping notifications and adding interactive features onto its site that can be found in-store, but admits that there is plenty of work to be done on mobile.

The Container Store has recently implemented Web responsive design on tablet and has seen an increase of usage since then, but is disappointed in the lack of response to its mobile optimization.

?We are seeing a huge increase in our tablet traffic, but our mobile site conversion rate is really dismal,? Ms. Coogan said. ?We invested heavily in mobile thinking customers would purchase our products on mobile, but we?re finding that they usually just use it for store location search.? 

Final Take?
Caitlyn Bohannon, editorial assistant for Mobile Marketer, New York