February 28, 2011, 2:31 PM

Macy’s adds star power to mobile commerce

The department store is using text messages and bar codes to promote its brands.

Lead Photo

Macy’s is adding a little star power to its mobile channel. The retailer is using text messages and two-dimensional bar code scanning of the Quick Response, or QR, code variety to deliver video content to shoppers from the retailer’s celebrity designers, including Bobbi Brown, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors, Greg Norman, Rachel Roy, Irina Shabayeva and Martha Stewart.

The program, called Macy’s Backstage Pass, was developed with the help of marketing firm JWT New York and lets in-store shoppers use a mobile device to scan a QR code on a product or send a text message to access videos about the designers and brands. The goal, Macy’s says, is to provide consumers with tips and information on the latest trends, advice and inspiration from celebrity style icons via 30-second films delivered to a phone. Mobile shoppers also will have the option to select longer-length content that will take them further backstage with each designer or brand.

“Macy’s new Backstage Pass is an exciting evolution that brings our stable of fashion experts and designers to the customer while they’re shopping in our store, through their mobile devices,” says Martine Reardon, executive vice president of marketing. “By providing fun and informative video features via an easy-to-use, direct-to-consumer platform, we are connecting and engaging our customer in a personal way that enhances and adds a new element to their shopping experience.”

Macy’s, No. 20 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, is also taking steps to make sure shoppers know how to use the QR codes, a technology typically used to deliver content  to mobile devices that’s gaining a little ground in the U.S. QR codes, which first emerged in the mid-1990s in Japan, are two-dimensional bar codes readable by dedicated QR scanner mobile apps that leverage a phone’s camera. Macy’s created a video to help shoppers learn how to use the codes. The video will be accessible to customers who text “learn” to MACYS (62297), at macys.com/findyourmagic, and via Macy’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. Additionally, Macy’s store employees will carry instructions on how to use the Backstage Pass codes in-store. Shoppers who don’t want to download a QR reader can text the keyword found beside each Backstage Pass to MACYS to have the video content sent as an MMS, or multimedia message, to their mobile device.

The new mobile marketing program is just one of Macy’s several mobile initiatives. In addition to launching a mobile commerce site built by Usablenet Inc. and mobile apps, the retailer also uses text message marketing and Shopkick, an app that lets shoppers earn rewards points and special offers for checking in at stores and completing tasks.

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