September 16, 2014, 11:51 AM

Macy’s takes more steps to link its stores to the web

Plans for the fall include testing same-day delivery, using Apple Pay, adding image search and a rolling out beacon technology to stores nationwide.

Lead Photo

Macy’s Inc., No 8 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, has big plans to further tie its web operations with its store operations. The company announced this week several initiatives for Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s stores leading into the holiday season.

“Our goal remains to help our customers shop whenever, wherever and however they prefer, and to use the entire inventory of the company to satisfy demand," says Terry J. Lundgren, Macy's, Inc. chairman and CEO. "We are a multi-faceted retailer with stores, technology, Internet capability and mobile access that come together for our customers. They are at the center of all our decisions, and our ongoing research and development will continue to help us understand how to personally engage with them."

Among the initiatives is becoming one of the first retailers to accept Apple’s new mobile payment system, Apple Pay, in stores. The company did not offer details on the rollout, but said the payment option will be available in October. Apple Pay requires the new iPhone 6, which Apple Inc. will begin selling Friday.

Also in time for the 2014 holiday shopping season is a same-day shipping test. Macy’s stores in eight markets— Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New Jersey, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle and Washington, D.C.—and Bloomingdale’s stores in four markets— Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose—will begin testing same-day delivery. Fifty stores will be involved in the pilot, which allows shoppers to buy items on macys.com and bloomingdales.com and have them delivered the same day. Those 50 stores will serve as fulfillment centers for the orders.

The foundation for that test, Macy’s says, is the success of the company’s buy online, pick up in-store program, which launched in fall 2013 and has been rolled out to all Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s stores nationwide.

In addition, an image search technology developed at Macy’s San Francisco-based Idea Lab will be deployed as a mobile app. The app allows shoppers to submit a photograph of any outfit, accessory or merchandise item they see in real life. The visual search will then show the shopper similar items on macys.com, where they can be purchased. The app, called Macy's Image Search, is available for iPhone from the Apple App Store. The company says the image search functionality will be added to the primary Macy's app.

Macy’s also announced it would outfit all of its stores with Shopkick beacons. The retailer ran a test last year during the holiday season at Macy's flagships in New York and San Francisco. Shopkick uses beacons to detect the Macy’s loyalty app on a shopper’s phone when she walks in a store, even if the app isn’t open, and send her personalized deals via push notifications, which typically trigger an alert tone and vibrate the phone.

Macy’s says this is the largest retail rollout of beacons—at 4,000 devices. Initially, the app will alert shoppers to currently available Macy's promotions, deals or discounts. In early spring 2015, Macy's will tailor offers by specific departments in the store.

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