Macy’s Launches Digitally Driven Self-Service Initiative To Streamline The In-Store Experience

Focused on providing a more convenient and fun shopping experience, and bringing the online experience into stores, Macy’s, Inc., is providing mobile technology to its store personnel, as part of the company’s omni-channel strategy to drive sales for the Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s brands. These innovations are designed to engage customers with self-service options and streamline the path to purchase.

Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s are bringing self-service and the online experience to stores with computer tablets and hand-held devices that engage customers in selected merchandise areas. Approximately 350 stores will test the tablets to help customers research and select products, specifically at Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s Clinique counters. Bloomingdale’s is testing tablets and handheld devices in 5 stores to help customers view and shop a variety of shoe styles and colors. In fine jewelry, 25 Macy’s stores are using tablets to demonstrate product features and offer coordinating jewelry pieces that may not be available in that particular location. These items can then be purchased via Macy’s Search & Send order fulfillment system.

Macy’s operates approximately 850 department stores in 45 states, Guam and Puerto Rico under the Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s brand names. The company is headquartered in Cincinnati and New York City, and reported 2010 fiscal sales of $25 billion.


“We are committed to leading in the adoption of technology that resonates with customers,” said Terry J. Lundgren, Chairman, President and CEO of Macy’s, Inc., in a press release. “In particular, we are using technology in our stores to mirror the online shopping experience, and adding functionality and content online to provide customers with additional assistance in product selection. The ultimate goal of our omni-channel strategy is to build deeper relationships with customers and ensure Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s products are accessible no matter how or when customers prefer to shop.”  

As the company builds its culture of growth, “it is important that we develop and test new ideas so we can learn and continue to improve,” said Lundgren.

In October, Macy’s began testing Beauty Spot, a new cosmetics concept that allows customers to search and select products via a kiosk from various product categories across multiple brands. Additionally, dedicated Beauty Spot concierge associates will use hand-held mobile devices to assist customers and process credit card transactions. Macy’s is testing Beauty Spot (with interactive touch screens) in four stores in New Jersey, Texas and Virginia, while six Macy’s stores in Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas are assessing Beauty Spot without touch screens.

Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s are installing free Wi-Fi service in stores nationwide to enable customer use of smartphone applications and/or tablet technology for shopping. By the end of October, full public Wi-Fi access will be activated in about 230 Macy’s and nine Bloomingdale’s stores. In another 79 Macy’s stores, Wi-Fi access is being installed in junior’s and young men’s departments to support the company’s youth initiatives.

“Macy’s realizes that there’s not a single product in its assortment that shoppers can’t find elsewhere,” said Laura Davis-Taylor, SVP, Managing Director at BBDO/Proximity ShopWork, a specialist in retail campaign strategies, in an interview with RetailTouchpoints. “As smart shoppers continue to use digital devices to find products cheaper in other stores, retailers must make a difference in the customer experience to mitigate the price issue.”

Additionally, has launched a new denim fit finder for women. Powered by True FitTM fit personalization software, the function allows online shoppers to select jeans via a three-step process based on body and style preferences. Recommended styles can be saved on the customer’s personal profile page for future reference.

Digitizing In-Store Operations
Macy’s latest innovations also are streamlining in-store operations across a variety of departments. The company has expanded the Search & Send initiative to include order fulfillment from 23 selected Macy’s stores across the country. Previously with Search & Send, every Macy’s store register was enabled to find products unavailable in that particular location by accessing the online inventory. By 2012, more than 100 Macy’s stores with broad merchandise assortments will be part of the Search & Send fulfillment network. The company also is testing the use of Macy’s store fulfillment for selected items purchased online. Bloomingdale’s provides fulfillment from all of its stores, as well as its online inventory.

At the end of October, all Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s furniture/mattress delivery associates will utilize computer tablets to plan daily routes, find locations via GPS, record delivery verification signatures and access product and sales transaction information on-site to answer customer questions.

Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s stores are replacing signature pads at all 50,000 point-of-sale terminals with new customer response units developed by Verifone. The rollout will be completed by fall 2012. The new units enable the company to test emerging transaction-processing technologies. Among them is Google Wallet, a smartphone application now being tested in 219 Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s stores in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

Beginning late October, Macy’s will experiment with digital receipts in 50 selected stores across the country. When making a purchase, customers can choose to have a copy of their receipt emailed to them. In spring 2012, Macy’s customers will have the option to select digital receipts only.

“Retailers can generate dollars by tapping into customers’ hearts,” said Davis-Taylor. “The only way to do that is to be relevant to shoppers’ lives, and the quickest way to be relevant is to solve their issues. For five years, the Number One finding among retail consumer surveys is that shoppers want browsing and finding streamlined for them. Number Two is that they want retailers to build better bridges across channels. As Macy’s acts on these customer needs, the entire retail industry is going to look and follow suit. I truly believe that the initiative will help mitigate some of the fear of other brands [when it comes to a rollout like this].”

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