Retailers’ Mobile Products Get Smarter

Lowe's Iris System Final“Smart is becoming the synonym for connected, and data is the new currency. There’s a shift towards digital data and having products doing things on our behalf. We’re moving towards a post smartphone era of having 50 billion connected devices, where siloed data streams will be combined for a seamless customer experience”, said Shawn DuBravac, chief economist and senior director of research for the CEA, Consumer Electronics Association, and author of the book Digital Destiny.

DuBravac was speaking at ANA/Association of National AdvertisersMobile First, Mobile Everywhere Conference recently in New York. “Approximately 65% of mobile use now is non-communication, such as shopping”, he added. Presenters from retail giants Walmart and Lowe’s discussed how their brands are keeping up with homeowners’ and shoppers’ growing mobile demands.

Walmart’s Savings Catcher App is building customer loyalty and generating advocacy
“We’re fiercely competing in the digital space to make sure we win”, said Wanda Young, Walmart’s VP of media, digital and partnership marketing. For Walmart the goal is to stand by what the brand means, offering savings on prices, while increasing loyalty. The retailer introduced Savings Catcher, designed in their labs in Arkansas and California.

With this app, if consumers find that local competitors have lower advertised prices, they call it to Walmart’s attention, then receive an egift card for the difference. The app download campaign was introduced in stages and by market. The launch involved targeting lapsed Walmart shoppers as well as outreach to media outlets and to blogger moms, a group the retailer often uses to test new ideas. The app has been a success, especially measured in terms of customers advocating for the product’s value on social media.

Lowe’s Iris Home Management System connects products with data
“Who else is going to pull it all together?” asked Kevin Meagher, VP and general manager, Smart Home at Lowe’s Home Improvement. He said as Lowe’s pivots from a transactional to a services-based business model, they introduced Iris Home Management System, a cloud-based platform that serves as a hub to program one’s home wirelessly. The name Iris not only means keeping your eye on your home, but is also the Greek god of messaging.

Iris represents a single user interface with links to multiple apps. Lowe’s created kits around themes, such as security and energy management. The basic service is free, and they offer a fee-based premium service. Among the internal and external challenges so far: positioning the connected home section in their stores, staff training, and managing the products from different retailers, since they’re now linked. Another issue is being careful not to frighten consumers who may be wary of cloud-based digital connectivity so close to home.

(Image courtesy of Lowe’s)