Paige Murphy reports on how Myer and The Iconic are using apps to improve all levels of retail.
Smartphones have held the reigns for a number of years now, dictating the every move of consumers. While privacy concerns continue to escalate, society can’t disconnect themselves from the convenience these handheld devices afford them.
Deloitte’s Mobile Consumer Survey 2018 found that 89% of Australians own a smartphone, while only 76% own a laptop and 52% own a desktop.
It comes as little surprise then that big-name retailers such as Myer and The Iconic have been on the mobile app bandwagon for some time.
But is it enough to just provide a shopping experience in app form? At Myer, the department store has taken a different approach to its counterparts.
In October 2012, it launched its first app, the Myer One app, which works in line with its existing five-million-member loyalty program. The app has since been downloaded over 800,000 times.
Myer head of loyalty Spencer May explains that rather than create an eCommerce app for the department store, the loyalty app was created initially as a direct response from customer feedback.
“Our customers told us through the development process that this was their priority and what they needed. We found that a lot more customers shop with us via the mobile site and they wanted the loyalty features in an app. So, we built exactly that,” he says.
Through the development process, 1,000 Myer One customers were recruited to help test and provide feedback for the final app. At the end of the day, May says Myer found its customers wanted convenience more than anything.
“It is primarily a digital alternative to carrying a plastic Myer One membership card and plastic rewards cards. It also gives members’ their balance and lets them know how close they are to their next reward,” he explains.
May says it also features functions such as the purchase tab which enables customers to review past purchases and saves their receipts, creating a more streamline return process; an offers tab which includes exclusive promotions for members; and presents rewards cards to those using the app first.
In addition to its loyalty program, Myer has also recently developed an internal communications app to improve communication between stores and head office. Myer performance improvement manager Travers Finniss says the new M Comms app was built upon what was formerly known as M Metrics which launched 12 months ago.
“Every day we receive a number of feedbacks through our care to share surveys. Our customers fill out a survey about the service that they received in store and via M Metrics [we] were able to put that feedback directly back into the team members’ hands which had a significant contribution to our customer-first plan.”
Following on from this, he says that a rewards program called MyWallet was developed for staff. The program incentivises staff to provide better customer service in order to gain digital points which in turn are generated to a gift card to spend in store.
Derived from an ongoing pain point store staff had reiterated about communication, M Comms was born earlier this year. Rather than sending a document that needed to be printed every day and wasn’t always relayed to the whole team, the new app is available for all team members to access.
“What M Comms allows us to do is get those key communications that our team members need to know when they want it, how they want it, in a completely paperless form,” Finniss details.
In addition to being able to push messages out, he says the app has been hugely efficient in assisting the support office. Where the team previously may have received numerous phone calls asking the same questions, staff are now able to leave questions or comments which can be answered for everyone to see.
Since its launch, there has also been a notable uplift in team member satisfaction and regular engagement on the app from staff in store.
“On any given week, we would have upwards of 85% of our team members engaging constantly with the application which is just a fantastic result,” he says.
“It absolutely helps support our store teams to deliver our customer-first plan and that is the feedback we get from them.”
Over at pureplay e-tailer The Iconic, it seemed only natural that an app was its next phase just two years after the online store’s initial launch. Created in September 2013, it is now the number one downloaded fashion app in Australia with over two million downloads to date.
“Since the app’s inception, we’ve continued to enhance our mobile-first approach with regular updates to features to ensure our user experience is as seamless and inspiring as possible,” she says.
“Customer engagement with The Iconic app has reached over two million downloads, and we’ve seen growth rates of approximately 30% year-on-year.”
At present, more than a third of its customer purchases are made on the app with seven out of 10 purchases being made on a mobile device. This number continues to grow year-on-year, Ghani notes. She also shares that while around 80% of users are female, the e-tailer is actually witnessing greater growth with its male customers.
“We are noticing national shifts with greater growth rates amongst our male customers. Personalisation across all our touchpoints is also key, so depending on whether a customer is male or female, past purchasing habits etcetera will all dictate the content they are served,” she explains.
“In line with population rates, close to half of all our app users are based in NSW. Victoria is our second largest user-based state, followed by Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia respectively.”
Over the last few years, Ghani says the app has evolved to include new and improved features. Personalisation within the app remains one component the e-tailer continues to work on.
“Tweaks to the app are made – on average – at least once a month, which can range from the introduction of new functionalities and features, to existing feature upgrades. For example, our focus on personalisation for customers has seen the development and app integration of features such as ‘Order Status Updates’ and ‘Wishlist Item Updates’, both offering our customers with greater oversight on their orders or potential future orders,” she explains.
Further to its personalisation-focused strategy, the app works with algorithms to offer features like ‘Follow The Brand’ which allows customers to create a ‘playlist’ of all of their favourite brands. These labels are then prioritised when customers shop on the site or the app.
Other features such as ‘Wear It With’, ‘Snap to Shop’ and ‘Find Your Fit’ have also been designed to aid the customer in making the right purchase on their shopping journey.
“To remedy the inability to ‘try before you buy’, we have a sizing tool that helps customers determine the most appropriate size for the product they’re purchasing,” she says.
“This tool leverages data from our customers’ purchase and returns history, alongside data from the size profiles of others who also purchased the same product to increase accuracy.”
What’s in stall next for the app? Ghani explains that the team are constantly striving to be ahead of the game in terms of its innovations but for now the next focus will be on updating its popular wishlist feature.
“We want to supercharge this functionality to allow our customers the ability to create wishlist boards, where they can not only pin a multitude of items but easily share these with family and friends. The sky’s the limit when it comes to creating the best and most seamless experience for our customers, so stay tuned.”