A feature on Multichannel at Macy’s
Macys, which includes the Bloomingdales brand, has around 800 department stores in 45 states in the US. Annual sales in 2012 were $26 billion of which 20% of this is private label products. Growth in sales has been $1 billion in each of the past three years.
Macys has a total of 176,000 employees with around 130,000 working in stores. The flagship store is in New York and is the world’s largest store which has also recently undergone a $400m facelift. Corporate offices are located in New York and Cincinnati.
L2, a highly regarded think tank for digital innovation, named Macys among its Top 10 retailers in Digital IQ, based on digital competency and mastery of mobile and social platforms. In 2011 and 2012, Macys was ranked No. 1 among 64 retail brands included in the study
Macys year on year online growth is impressive.
Summary of the Ordering Channels
Macys.com went live in 1997 and has undergone several transformations since then. It is built on the mature but slightly ageing Oracle ATG platform which competes strongly on features with IBM WCS. The website experience is run of the mill and a bit dated with no distinct features which make it stand out. It is also not optimised for tablet.
Category landing pages do not showcase the departments as well as they could. The site also has a fairly restrictive search that does not provide auto-suggest or did you mean features. The product detail pages are a little uninspiring and don’t implement style it with suggestions on the pages. Customers are able to check availability of a product in store through the website.
Macys have a functional mobile website as well as a shopping mobile app for both iPhone and Android.
The mobile website is developed using a transcoding technology similar to Usablenet . It’s a quick and dirty way to deliver a mobile site but will restrict the speed in which Macys can deliver fresh interactive content.
|Mobile website||Mobile app|
Macys core mobile apps were released in the summer of 2012 and integrate seamlessly with in-store promotions through QR codes and most recently iBeacon . Macys are trialling customer store navigation using the mobile app in their flagship store .
The mobile apps also feature a timetable for the popular events schedule which Macys run (see Events section). It also contains games and competitions.
Macys have now installed NFC enabled Verifone card payment machines which will support future pay by mobile wallet initiatives from the likes of Google and PayPal. Macys are known to have been involved in early Google Wallet pilots .
Macys have also rolled out customer wi-fi in all stores which will enable customers to perform show-rooming using their mobile devices in stores . This adoption follows previous experimentation within its café areas.
Additional Mobile Apps
Macys have developed 3 additional mobile apps:
|Believe-o-Magic ||Kids game where you locate a place in store and have your picture taken with a virtual cartoon character just before Christmas.|
|Star Gifts||In store treasure hunt for markers in store where you can unlock promotional items in store when you see the Star Gift logo.|
|Thanksgiving Parade||Kids companion app to go with the thanksgiving parade.|
Staff Assisted Ordering
Store staff in 350 of it’s stores have been equipped with iPad tablets to improve customer service. The iPads were launched in store in 2011 and are used mainly in high value product areas such as jewellery.
The sales staff in a number of stores have technology in their Point of Sale(POS) to “search and send,” meaning that if a product is not in store, a salesperson can look see if it’s available on macys.com or at one of the distribution centres and land a sale.
At POS in some store customers can elect to receive digital receipts.
Electronics departments in 400 stores now use modern touch screen controlled vending machines  to dispense small domestic appliances like iPods and mobile phones .
Vending machines started trialling with Macys in 2006 . Vending at Macys now makes $1billion sales per year. Skincare products are also being sold through vending machines.
Macys are experimenting with simple browse & order kiosks in a small number of stores.
Macys are also testing “Beauty Spot” kiosks in its cosmetics section with an “electronic concierge” that aids shoppers in picking out makeup or skin care products for their specific needs. The 40” screen is equipped with camera which allows for a virtual makeover. Macys have recently installed kiosks into it’s sportswear department .
Macys has a strong and diversified social media presence, with active pages on all the major social platforms.
Macys are also actively campaigning on Instagram and have 173k followers on foursquare. Foursquare is being used to enable customers to unlock offers using their mobile phones when in store.
Macys Backstage Pass
Macys launched a concept known as backstage pass back in 2011. This allows customers to scan QR codes located in various departments in store. The mobile app then brings up content that tells the customer more about how the garment was made, how to style it etc. The Backstage Pass campaign has been hugely popular and is still very active with fresh content today.
Fulfilment & pickup in store
Macys have invested heavily to create a capability that enables them to directly fulfil orders from 500 of its stores. This demonstrates that they have strong store inventory control as well as advanced and fairly unique systems that can manage the processes that turn 5/8 of its stores into mini distribution centres. The rollout of in store fulfilment started in 2010.
Its store stock position can also be accessed from product detail pages on the digital channels.
Pickup in store is a capability that has only be rolled out to some select stores in Washington D.C. but will soon be possible in 500 stores .
Events play a big part in keeping up brand awareness and drawing footfall into stores. Celebrity visits, fashion launches and various other events happen throughout the year.
It’s most celebrated annual event is the Thanksgiving day parade which is broadcast on NBC and runs through New York City. Macys have built digital campaigns around these events including the Thanksgiving Day Parade mobile app.
The API Programme
Macys has a comprehensive set of interfaces to it’s commerce platform that are publicly available to software developers and experience designers alike.
These APIs are a key foundation that will enable more modern user interfaces to be developed and enable a wider ecosystem of apps developed both internally and externally that don’t have the constraints of having to engage heavily with the IT department.
Further Digital Innovation at Macys
iBeacon, a feature now available in the latest Apple iPhones and some Android devices, is being trialled at two Macys stores in New York and San Francisco .
The technology will automatically open up the retailer’s mobile app when in store and ping offers to the customer when they are walking past a department that they have shown interest in before.
Macys have been trialling in store mobile navigation on their mobile app in its flagship since last year. There isn’t any evidence that this trial gained any momentum this year. It is likely that the barrier will be high cost of store infrastructure installation to support it .
Virtual Fitting Room Event
Macys trialled an augmented reality in its New York flagship in 2010 during Fashion Week. It featured a large-scale mirror with multi-touch technology that interacts with a multi-touch tablet and lets customers browse, shop and “try-on” the latest must-have items virtually and flip through the hottest tops, dresses, bottoms and coats from some of Macys top designers and once complete the customer would send the whole experience to their Facebook page, SMS, or email, and shop all the looks in the store itself .
Digital Signage at flagship
Big screens play a big part in the re-fit of the flagship store. These are used primarily for displaying aspirational product video. Macys have located screens in unusual places which draws the customer’s eye .
Digitally driven virtual mannequins that change outfits to suit different crowds and weather patterns are being trialled in some stores. If it is snowing outside, the digital mannequin dons a down jacket and boots, for example. Shoppers also have the ability to change what the mannequin is wearing 
Macys, like most large retailers are working on a big data programme that will use a modern distributed cloud computing architecture that will enable them to harvest better analytics on what the customer is doing .
Appendix A – Notable Multichannel Technology Suppliers & Further Reading