How American Eagle used location technology to create magical moments for shoppers

Lars Djuvik, Associate VP Retail

The use of location based technology (presence technology, proximity technology) can be an incredibly powerful toolset for connecting brands and retailers with shoppers when it’s done right.

Whether it’s creating a virtual geographic boundary around a store to remind a shopper when they are getting near a retailer that they might want to visit, or leveraging more advanced technology like beacons to remind a shopper to take an action once they are already inside the store, there is no shortage of location based marketing tools to truly serve the right message to the right person at the right time – and at the very right place.

The power of location-based technology

These tools can both verify and inform that the shopper has actually crossed “the lease line” to their store, or visited the dressing room. They can even help the brand avoid costly endcap placements by guiding a shopper to their product regardless of placement inside the store. The right balance of where, and more importantly how frequently, a shopper should receive these notifications is the real magic for marketers when they get it right. It can be downright annoying when it’s done wrong and the ‘magic’ wears off because of incorrect location or too high a frequency of messages.

In (almost) all scenarios, location based marketing notifications triggers the shopper to open the application… which is the whole point of leveraging a mobile device in-store… enabling a dialog between that shopper and the retailer.  Both sides are winning: the shopper is getting very specific information such as offers or other calls to action, and the retailer/brand is able to communicate with the shopper in a real-time/real-place. Now that the shopper is engaged in the experience and conversation with the retailer – via the mobile app – the retailer or brand earns the opportunity to show them the next proximity based offer when it’s done right. When it’s done wrong – most notably too many messages & the wrong call to action that the shopper isn’t interested in – that conversation can and will end.

At Shopkick, we leverage geofencing/GPS, beacon/BLE and other forms of location based marketing as a means to an end. We always serve the mutually beneficial goal for shopper and retailer to keep that conversation alive by being valuable to both sides and not just serving these notifications because you can.  More important than knowing when to send a shopper a notification is knowing when NOT to show them another notification.

Our specific magic ingredient in the conversation is our location and action-taken based reward currency called “kicks” where there is always something “more” in it for the shopper than just great information.  The more they engage with the app at the right time/right place (leveraging location based technology plus great content, great brands, great retailers) they earn kicks and are incentivized to stay in the conversation.  In turn, the retailer or brand has the ability to have a dialog with the shopper throughout the awareness, consideration and action stages of a purchase.

How American Eagle rewarded in-store behavior

American Eagle discovered that once their Shopkick-driven shoppers were in-store, they could layer-on a secondary offer: giving the shopper kicks for visiting the dressing room. The shoppers would already have the app open to earn beacon-activated Shopkick currency “kicks” for walking in, initiating contextually relevant messaging.

A second in-store shopBeacon was therefore placed in the American Eagle dressing rooms.  The shopper would try-on the items and receive their “fitting room kicks” by coming in proximity of the shopBeacon.

In this example, GPS geofencing was used to inform shoppers that they were near an American Eagle store.  Once they crossed the lease-line and were inside the store – where GPS is no longer accurate – we used the first (entrance-installed) shopBeacon to verify that they were indeed inside the store – and not just “near” the store.  By verifying they were in-store they de facto had to have opened the Shopkick app which is when we gave them the next offer to visit the dressing rooms.

The key is to then incentivize the shopper to take further actions that they choose with good content, such as information or products truly customized to her or him.  In this case, the mobile app (in-store) becomes their own personalized store while they are inside the store.  A real digital overlay on the physical shopping world where they can scan product barcodes, visit a specific section of the store, and ultimately – convert – without over-messaging the shopper throughout the process.

In the end, a smart use of location based marketing made for magical moments for American Eagle shoppers, and in turn both the shopper and the retailer ‘won’ because of the location based dialog pre-shopping, near the store and in-store.

Online to offline attribution with Visa

Consumers seamlessly traverse channels throughout the shopping journey, demanding highly personalized, mobile-enabled, and frictionless shopping experiences. In delivering these omnichannel experiences, retailers can struggle to attribute the impact of digital marketing on physical shopping experiences.

In 2016, Deloitte reported that digital’s influence on in-store sales surpassed 50%, influencing 56% of all in-store retail sales.  Yet understanding this influence on a shopper-level is still a challenge for most retailers.  In fact, 67% of retail executives said their greatest obstacle in offering an omnichannel experience is tracking customer analytics across channels.

Despite roughly 90% of retail transactions still happening in stores, stores lack the real-time data and attribution that retailers are accustomed to online. Beyond just verifying store visits, retailers want to know what customers did inside their stores. Key metrics include product engagement, dwell time in-store, purchase conversion, and whether or not the sale was incremental.

Shopkick’s partnership with Visa Decision Sciences connects the dots across the entire in-store data funnel to enable true online to offline attribution analysis.  Visa measures incremental sales impact through a  “twinning” methodology whereby a control group of unenrolled accounts is created from the Visa cardholder base to match spend behavior of the enrolled Shopkick population.

Shopkick Visa Data Partnership

Analysis from January 2017 shows significant and sustained incremental sales across Shopkick’s merchant partners — sales that would not have happened without Shopkick. On average, 57% of overall sales driven by Shopkick were incremental. Of that 57%, 73% of incremental sales was driven by new customer acquisition, and 23% was driven by increased spend of existing customers.

This ability to measure not just store visits, but also sales and incrementality will unlock the potential of omnichannel marketing, and drive growth for brick & mortar retail.

The next generation of retail experiences

Is your brand prepared for the CPG shopping experience of the future? Is your retail store equipped? New, innovative technologies are powering the next generation of in-store experiences and beyond. These three tips will help you create an efficient, effective endless aisle strategy.

1. Reach Consumers Pre-Store During Micro-Moments

Busy schedules and long to-do lists have fragmented the average shopper’s attention span. Dedicated ‘shopping trips’ are becoming a thing of the past. Shopping now happens during small windows throughout the day, such as 20 minutes while waiting to pick up a child from school or arrive at an appointment.

Today’s consumers place a premium on experiences, and these micro-moments offer an ideal opportunity to engage customers with educational videos or life hacks like timesaving recipes, money-saving offers, and product alternatives before they enter the store. Retailers, grocers and brand marketers need to build on the behavioral elements that drive purchase now and extend experiences across screens, beyond the store, and around the clock.

2. Focus on time spent, not clicks

App downloads are slowing thanks to a maturing ecosystem, dropping 20% among the top 15 US app publishers. However, a year-end analysis by App Annie found that time spent in apps is up by 25% over last year, so clearly this medium isn’t going anywhere. Apps remain an important touchpoint with consumers, indicating that engagement and frequency of use are the most accurate success metrics.

Consumer attention is the currency in marketing and advertising today. Retailers and brand marketers need to understand that it’s time spent that matters most, not click-throughs or downloads. As a result, it makes sense to focus more on immersing existing customers into the brand experience than enticing new customers.

3.    Develop Mutually-Beneficial Campaigns for Customer and Brand

The strongest argument for interactive engagement in-store is that ‘endless aisle’ solutions benefit brands, retailers, and consumers alike. Cutting-edge marketing technology finally enables CPG marketers to achieve closed-loop attribution for their efforts, while retailers see additional foot traffic, more guidance and exploration in-store, and movement from the perimeter to the center aisles. Consumers have a more entertaining shopping experience, save money, and accumulate rewards simply for doing the shopping they’d already planned to do.

Your brand or store doesn’t have to build a record-breaking mobile app to succeed. Consider the role interactive technology plays in your current customer interactions and how delivering an out-of-the-box, endless aisle solution can deliver better results for your marketing efforts.