ARCHIVES: This is legacy content from before Industry Dive acquired Mobile Marketer in early 2017. Some information, such as publication dates, may not have migrated over. Check out the new Mobile Marketer site for the latest mobile marketing news.

Kohl?s exec says beacons are surefire bet for greater personalization

NEW YORK ? 

A Kohl?s executive at the NRF 104th Annual Convention & Expo said the retailer has stepped up the pace of innovation and while not everything will pan out, beacons are a surefire bet. 

At the ?From Moments to Journey: Make each one Matter? session during the NRF 104th Annual Convention & Expo, a Kohl?s executive discussed the importance of offering a seamless, simplified checkout process on mobile and online and channels, as well as taking all steps to ensure a positive customer experience. After listening to customer feedback and attempting to stay competitive in the ever-changing digital space, Kohl?s recently launched a transactional redesign for its mobile checkout process and turned to beacon technology in the hopes of sending more personalized offers to guests in-store.

?We have rolled out beacons in 22 stores,? said Ratnakar Lavu, executive vice president and digital head of Kohl?s, San Francisco. ?We?re testing it out; some experiences work, some don?t.

?I?m very bullish on beacons. I do think they will take off.?

Necessity of relevant information
The Kohl?s executive also highlighted the importance of receiving customer feedback on all omnichannel experiences, which can then be applied to enhance the customer journey and offer more relevant information to each individual. Kohl?s has found that segmenting customer deals yields a much better response for the brand than sending generic messages.

The retailer had previously sent out uniform email blasts to all of its subscribers, but quickly realized many of its messages were not relevant to all users.

?Now what we?re doing is segmenting our customer database and the message we want to communicate to them,? Mr. Lavu said. ?Segmentation is going to be key.

?In terms of where customers want [messages], we?re looking at technologies related to beacons and geo-locations.?

Meeting customers on their preferred channels of communication is also imperative for all retailers. Whereas consumers in the past would send letters of complaint if they were dissatisfied with their personal experiences, guests now take to social media mobile applications and sites to vent their frustrations ? which may be potentially damaging due to the sheer amounts of users that the message will be exposed to.

The moderator of the session stressed that retailers should keep the three Ms in mind: marketing, mobile and millennials. Millennials? allegiance to social media must not be overlooked.

?Every touchpoint our customer has with our brand, we are trying to elevate that experience and provide a seamless experience across all channels,? Mr. Lavu said.

However, the retailer does believe that beacons are a surefire bet for marketers, although it may take several tests for each brand to perfect the technology.

Simplifying checkout process
Kohl?s also discussed the transactional redesign its mobile checkout process underwent after user feedback displayed that customers felt too distracted by the myriad of offers and steps previously involved.

?The customer journey starts with what the customer wants, not what you perceive them to want,? Mr. Lavu said. ?The checkout process is very complicated because you have a lot of offers and promotional items, and it creates a lot of complexity.

?Through customer feedback, we understood what the customer wants. Last year we took on transactional redesign. We keep calculating all prices and making it simple for them.?

Ultimately, a key takeaway is for retailers to engage in the intentional innovation necessary for staying competitive with other top brands that are also investing heavily in mobile channels. Brands must be focused and intentional with their marketing efforts, and be willing to take the fall if the strategy does not end up as planned.

?Not moving fast is far riskier than trying things out and failing in some and succeeding in others,? Mr. Lavu said. ?Previously, we used to do a lot of big bang innovations.

?Test, learn, iterate again, and then continue to change.?

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York