December 28, 2012, 1:00 PM

Caché entices in-store shoppers with an iPhone app

It gives geo-targeted notifications and product information via barcode scans.

Amy Dusto

Associate Editor

Lead Photo

Cache's app showing the product details for a dress.

Women’s apparel retailer Caché Inc., No. 544 in the Internet Retailer Second 500 Guide has released an iPhone app targeted at in-store shoppers. The app includes a bar code scanner that provides product information about the items shoppers scan and an opt-in push notification system that sends alerts about sales and events at nearby Caché stores, with a store locator, says Kevin Metz, Caché’s vice president of e-commerce.

Because it launched only about a month ago, Caché doesn’t have results to share from the app. However, the app’s launch is only the start of the retailer’s increased focus on mobile commerce, Metz says. “The more people we can get engaged and downloading, the more impact it will have,” he says.

More than 90% of the retailer’s mobile traffic—accounting for about 30% of all its traffic online—comes from Apple devices, Metz says. Consumers have downloaded the app about 1,000 times since it became available. That’s despite the retailer’s only promotion of the app being a banner on the retailer’s mobile site that directs customers to download it from the Apple App Store, he says. Caché will roll out a broader app download campaign next month, he says.

When shoppers use the bar code scanner to find out more about items in store—including via consumer ratings and reviews—they can also save them to favorite lists, share the items with friends via e-mail, find the item in colors and styles not available in that store or put them in an online cart to buy directly from their smartphones, Metz says. Eventually, the scanner, which also works with QR codes, will bring other rich content to in-store shoppers, such as look books or videos, he says.

The retailer aims for the app to provide targeted, timely promotions and messages to customers, Metz says. “Otherwise, people would download it and my fear is: we’ve spent a lot of money on this thing and it won’t keep people engaged to come back,” he says.

The app uses software from mobile customer engagement vendor Xtify to tailor notifications to a shopper’s preferences, customer history and location. For example, Caché might alert a shopper when a new collection is available in a store near her, Metz says, or encourage a shopper who hasn’t used the scanner yet to try it. The alerts may also include links, images or videos.

Though Caché declines to reveal how much it paid for the app, vendor Usablenet, which developed it, says projects range in price from about $25,000 to $250,000, depending on their scope. Usablenet also built the retailer’s mobile site four months ago, Metz says.

“We built the app to be as much about the handheld mobile experience as the actual in-store experience,” says Carin van Vuuren, chief marketing officer at Usablenet. “Together, the mobile website and the app complement the store experience and lay the foundation for a true multichannel experience for customers.”

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