Merchant: Famous Footwear
Size: 1,000+ stores
Platform: Famous Footwear Mobile App
The Bottom Line: Branded mobile apps are one way that retailers can combat the “showrooming” effect, while also expanding their loyalty initiatives.
As shoppers grow more accustomed to using their smartphones to research products and search for coupons while shopping in-store, retailers are being forced to introduce their own branded mobile apps just to keep up. Famous Footwear is one of the latest retailers to jump onboard, with a mobile app that integrates with the company’s rewards program and provides shoppers with features meant to improve the in-store shopping experience.
“Mobile is increasingly becoming a necessary part of the shopping experience for our customer,” says Will Smith, chief marketing officer at Brown Shoe Retail, Famous Footwear’s parent company. “As our consumer continues to rely more on their mobile devices, we’ll continue to look at features that will make the shopping experience easier.”
Among the features Smith says he’s most excited to introduce to customers is the app’s digital wallet. Using this feature, shoppers who have registered their rewards accounts can track purchases and redeem rewards points immediately at the in-store point-of-sale. This is a departure from how Famous Footwear has managed its loyalty program in the past, sending physical “rewards certificates” to eligible customers by postal mail or email just four times per year. “Using the digital wallet feature, members can see and use their rewards points and dollars earned at any time,” says Smith.
Customers can also access images of Famous Footwear’s in-stock products and find nearby stores using an in-app locator. Products that a customer ‘likes’ can be shared with friends through social media and accessed when they’re ready to buy while shopping in-store. Smith says the app is just one tool that Famous Footwear is using to compete with online-only retailers by catering to existing shoppers and providing incentives for new shoppers. “Our efforts are focused on making the shopping experience more convenient for the on-the-go shopper,” says Smith.
Less than a month since the app’s official debut, it’s still too soon to tell whether the initiative can be considered a success. In making that determination, Smith says he plans to look at the number of app downloads, as well as the return rate from customers who have downloaded it. “We’ll closely watch the number of downloads and how the consumer uses the app as part of the shopping experience. We hope to gain shopping data about our consumer so we can continue to enhance their experience,” says Smith.
Part of that continued enhancement of the shopping experience involves utilizing the app to push more offers to customers, tied to specific seasons or events. Smith has plans to integrate the new mobile app into Famous Footwear’s holiday promotions. “The holiday season is obviously an important time for retailers, so we’ve made sure that all our holiday promotions will be available via the app so shoppers can easily see what offers are available,” says Smith. “As we continue to develop the functions of the app, we’ll be looking at providing offers exclusively through the app for the holiday season.”
Rather than trying to prevent customers from using their smartphones to check reviews and compare prices while shopping in-store, Famous Footwear is encouraging it — and providing incentives for shoppers who use the company’s own branded app. The retailer has introduced benefits that shoppers can only get if they download its app — like immediate reward redemptions, rather than waiting for quarterly reward certificates to show up in the mail — which are likely to drive downloads and in-store app usage over time.
Stephanie Miles is an associate editor at Street Fight.