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Retailers, including Neiman Marcus, are building one-to-one relationships via mobile apps

Shoppers are less and less likely to frequent the e-commerce website of a store, and more and more likely to rely on its mobile app. Mobile apps have two big advantages over websites for retailers: 1) they are easy to use in-store and 2) they are more likely to used casually by the shopper. Smart retailers are pouring money into mobile app development and mobile-enabled commerce. 

PYMNTS.com: Neiman Marcus Looks To Associates For Social Media Commerce, 2018-Jan-23

At the National Retail Federation (NRF) show last week, Neiman Marcus Chief Executive Karen Katz said that her 4,500 associates are generating sales for the company via their personal Instagram and Snapchat accounts. Katz said the company encourages the practice because “customers who are attached to a sales associate spend more.”

To help facilitate communications with customers, each associate receives a company-issued iPhone and the iSell mobile app. Associates post fashion advice — like how to dress up jeans — and text updates about new items that have arrived in-store. “We are trying to bring a more human touch to how [our associates] act online,” Katz said.

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“A huge portion of discovery of new products is now happening on Instagram and Pinterest for women,” said Jennifer Hyman, co-founder of Rent the Runway, according to The Wall Street Journal. “Pinterest and Instagram serve as virtual malls or virtual cataloging for every woman across the globe.” And, through a mobile app called Spring, fashion shoppers can discover new brands, as well as manage the packaging and shipping of their items. 

RetailWire: Will in-store clienteling aid Neiman Marcus’ digital push? 2017-Oct-23 by Tom Ryan

On its fourth-quarter conference call earlier this month, CEO Karen Katz told analysts the luxury retailer continues to invest in software tools to “deepen engagement” and “help our associates drive sales outside the four walls of the store.”

A major focus is continued investments is Isell, a proprietary digital clientele management tool first rolled out five years ago that allows sales associates to use an app on a company-issued iPhone to retrieve customer data and “tap into customer preferences.” 

To further personalization, custom software is being developed that enables selling associates to send personalized outfit suggestions to customers via text message, which Ms. Katz described as “already a key driver of transactions.” The suggestions are based on past purchases, customer browsing history on the company’s websites, social feeds and/or inquiries.

The clienteling tool is guiding the company’s first platform under the digital first strategy that focuses on digital luxury services. Two other platforms involve upgrading Neiman’s e-commerce sites and increasing its selection of exclusive merchandise.

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