When it comes to technology, American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) doesn’t shy away. The apparel retailer has been focusing on its digital efforts over the last few years in an effort to provide a seamless Unified Commerce shopping experience to its customers. Unified Commerce goes beyond omni-channel by breaking down the walls between internal channel silos and leveraging a common commerce platform to deliver a holistic, real-time, personal customer experience. Says Lance Wills, VP Digital Technology at AEO, “It’s our goal to make sure that we meet our customers’ needs, wherever they are, whether online or in-store.” At the heart of their evolving digital strategy is a focus on mobile technology, and more specifically, the American Eagle mobile app.
The Mobile App
AEO has prioritized its native mobile app as part of their mobile-first focus. Joe Megibow, Chief Digital Officer of AEO shared, “We’re not looking for it to be just another version of the mobile website, we want it to be something else. It really is tied to loyalty, social, engagement and supporting the customer.” Rather than approaching the app as just a sales tool, AEO considers it an important part of its overall engagement strategy in the customer lifecycle. As such, the company has integrated a number of different technologies to work in conjunction with their app and continue to think of new and cutting edge ways to streamline the customer journey.
AEO is exploring how best to use geolocation – leveraging a smartphone’s ability to know when a customer is in close proximity to a store, allowing retailers to market or push promotions to drive in-store traffic.
The store has explored the use of in-store beacons – and found success with it. An early adopter of beacon technology, AEO delivered push notifications via the Shopkick app to successfully draw more customers into fitting rooms. The retailer placed a beacon at the front entrance and in the fitting room of select stores. When a customer with the Shopkick app entered the store, the beacon sensed their smartphone’s presence via Bluetooth, and triggered Shopkick to display a message offering 25 extra kicks (Shopkick’s rewards currency) if they tried something on in a fitting room. The results suggested that beacons paired with an incentive could be used to encourage in-store behavior.
Reserve, Try & Buy
Also reflecting the growth of their Unified Commerce shopping experience is AEO’s ‘Reserve, Try & Buy,’ which enables preshopping. With this program, customers can use the company’s app to reserve an item before trying it on in store. Customers are notified via email and text when the product is ready, typically within an hour. Says Jeremy Xavier, Senior Director of Mobile at AEO, “The program shows our commitment to bridging our digital consumer experiences and our stores.”
Also in progress is a loyalty program revamping. AEO is looking to improve the integration of customer devices, in-store technology, and the loyalty program with the goal to reduce friction in the customer journey.
American Eagle hopes that in establishing itself as a Unified Commerce retailer, it will not only boost sales but also play a key role in driving international expansion. “Omni-channel represents the future of the brand and the future of the retail industry for that matter,” Wills says. “It’s our goal to make sure that we meet our customers’ needs, wherever they are, whether online or in-store.”