Journeys Shares Lessons Learned from Mobile Launch

Journeys, a retailer of footwear for teens and young adults, launched a mobile channel in April, deploying Virid’s marketAgility Mobile Solution. The new platform allowed Journeys to use a single content-management system for both its m-commerce and ecommerce channels.

At the Mobile Shopping Summit in New York in October, John Tighe, director of ecommerce at Journeys parent company Genesco Retail, talked about the integration of m-commerce across all channels. Here are some of the lessons Tighe said he’s learned along the way:

An order-by-phone link is important in m-commerce
Tighe noticed an interesting trend: Though mobile users were starting transactions on their smart phones, their comfort level with m-commerce kept most of them from finishing them there. Anecdotal evidence of this became documented proof when Journeys assigned a different 800-number to its m-commerce site than its e-commerce site.

Mobile can be used to enhance the in-store experience
If a customer has a question about a product, and all the stores’ point-of-sale systems are in use, clerks at Journeys are using their iPhones and Androids as a customer service device to look up product information.

SMS works for an immediate call-to-action
Tighe said he wished Journeys had implemented an SMS messaging program before the merchant ventured into mobile, as the communication platform is not dead. If a customer is willing to give you their cell phone number, they are willing to accept your messages.

What’s the lifetime value of an SMS message? Tighe said your message has to have an urgent call to action, since text messages are rarely saved and have a shelf life of about 15 minutes. If your message has a longer life span – such as for a weekend sale – you are better off using email.

Geo-social programs can drive store traffic
Journeys started using the geo-social game SCVNGR in August to attract mobile consumers to the store. The user downloads the SCVNGR app for an iPhone or Android and then, when he or she gets to a store location, has to do a “challenge” to earn two points. When 20 points are earned, or essentially 10 visits to a Journeys location, the player gets a $10 coupon.

While the game gets consumers into the store, Tighe said the coupon redemption rate is not as high as coupons distributed through its social networks. But getting customers to visit and linger in its stores does bring Journeys back to its roots, when it had a pay phone in each store and encouraged shoppers to hang out, Tighe said.

There’s no app for that
Tighe says 23% of Journeys customers own a smart phone. So for the retailer, it makes sense to have a WAP-based mobile browser instead of apps. An app would also limit what the customer’s experience, while the mobile-friendly WAP site allows the mobile users the same functionality as the ecommerce customer.

“To make an iPhone app didn’t make sense,” Tighe said. “What’s going to be so special to the iPhone users that’s not going to be special to anyone else?”