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Tommy Hilfiger exec: Consumers touch retailers at different touch points

PALM DESERT, CA ? A Tommy Hilfiger executive at eTail West said that with the proliferation of new devices and technology, retailers that have been hesitant to embrace online have another chance with mobile to combine the in-store and online experiences to get a better understanding of shoppers.

During the ?Identifying Opportunities And Channels To Scale Your Business For Growth In Today?s Retail Market? keynote session, executives from Tommy Hilfiger, Rimm-Kaufman Group and United Airlines spoke about how organizations are reshaping themselves with digital marketing. Additionally, the session pinpointed the travel industry as driving mobile innovation.

?I feel like an organization like ours ? where we were perhaps conservative in coming online ? this is another chance,? said Jared Blank, vice president of ecommerce at Tommy Hilfiger, New York. ?It?s like we added another opportunity with mobile and the idea that consumers touch us at very different touch points.

?The customer?s view is all one ? it is a new opportunity for companies that are established like ours to rethink their teams and rethink their strategies about how they get in front of the customer,? he said.

?I think it is more about how can you use what we know from the digital world and bring it into the physical world, because frankly offline is still where consumers buy most of the stuff. Ecommerce sales will come if you look at the customer more holistically.?

Mobile shift
Per Mr. Blank, organizations need to change to keep up with consumers. Companies should think of ways to restructure an organization more broadly to focus on consumers more.

Additionally, marketers need to go back to the basics. Although there are lots of new technologies available, if a brand is not getting their affiliate program right, there is money being left on the table.

As consumers rely on multiple devices to aid in the shopping experience, tracking a user is a big priority for brands. However, this can be tricky on mobile.

To help with this, marketers should look for ways to not only measure how devices are being used but how consumers use each individual device to help with shopping.

?There are companies that are doing really interesting things about how you track individuals across channels, and I think this is a nice opportunity to think about what those companies are going into,? Mr. Blank said.

Changing expectations
The next generation of consumers will have mobile devices in laptops in their lives since birth, according to Ryan Gibson, vice president of marketing at Rimm-Kaufman Group, Charlottesville, VA.

Therefore, the role of privacy is going to change for consumers.

?The questions on privacy will become an expectation to an extent of being able to align your products with the needs of the customers and getting that message right,? Mr. Gibson said.

?There is this clear definition of this is a touch point that consumers want to use and how are we giving them the information to use it in our stores and online,? he said.

From an organization standpoint, Mr. Gibson said that the key to getting this is cross-channel buy-ins.

For example, redesigning a mobile site can be a massive task, but making incremental changes to it can be a proof case to point to the increasing amount of traffic and sales coming to a mobile device.

Travel opportunity
According to the panelists, airlines have approached mobile completely different than retailers.

For example, airlines have developed mobile applications and sites with utility-based features that are then rolled out to different platforms.

On the other hand, retailers focus on creating a mobile-friendly version of the site to drive revenue and create a more seamless shopping experiences.

There are also differences in user behavior in the types of devices that marketers should look at with their initiatives. Tablets can help airlines sell bigger packages when consumers presumably have more time, and smartphones can drive last-minute bookings.

?When you talk about mobile ? I?m not thinking about it as an iPhone or mobile as a tablet ? I?m thinking about it as a device you use that allows you to be flexible with how you interact,? said Chris Amenechi, former vice president of merchandising and distribution at United Airlines, Chicago.

?For us ? for the airline space ? you use mobile effectively to check-in to the airline, you can use mobile in the airport,? he said.

?The consumers that actually interact with most airlines today are the most device-heavy individuals.?

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York