Fashion Retailer Debuts ‘Pushy’ Promos

Cache's new mobile app underscores a year of push notifications

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If push notifications become a staple in mobile marketing for years to come, the industry can point to 2012 when the tactic started to gain traction. With that in mind, fashion retailer Cache was sure to include push notifications in its first mobile app, which began testing earlier this month and will be promoted among the brand’s properties after the holidays.

As has been the case with many apps launched in 2012, when consumers download the Cache app, they’ll choose between receiving push messages or not (basically, they're deciding whether it's OK for a brand to periodically send them messages automatically based on their location, shopping habits, etc.). Those that opt-in will receive automated notifications based on their app activity, explained Kevin Metz, vp of e-commerce for the New York-based, female-focused clothing retail chain. For instance, if a consumer browses the new arrivals or specials section on the app, he said, that person will get a push message about specific items of clothing they've likely just checked out.

“That’s pretty good,” Metz said. “It’s really recognizing the interaction with someone, while getting them more engaged with the app and showing them the value of the push notifications. We can set up timing rules, geographic rules. It’s more sophisticated than I thought it would be.”

Cache’s 262 locations—many of which are in upscale malls—have been loaded into the app, so Metz and his team can geo-target down to the store level. For instance, push notifications can be sent to app users when they are within a quarter mile of a mall store in suburban markets or within 500 feet for the brand’s New York City shops.

“We want to incent people to come in and see a new product or collection or to take advantage of a promotion," Metz explained. "You have to provide value or it becomes spam. You have to watch frequency, too. You cannot overuse the thing.”

Cache's mobile app also entails a plethora of e-commerce shopping features like barcode scanning and wish-listing. The brand generally targets high-income, well-educated, professional women ages 30 to 50, competing with the likes of White House Black Market and Ann Taylor.

Tech provider Usablenet built the retailer’s app while utilizing a push notifications system by Xtify. In the last year, ESPN, Airbnb, Walgreens and BET are among other brands that have implemented push into their apps while working with Xtify competitor Urban Airship.

Usablenet CMO Carin van Vuuren suggested that push notifications have gone mainstream. “It no longer feels like an invasion,” she said. “It’s feeling more like an invitation. It’s signaling a greater degree of personalization in the app experience. Of all the app launches we’ve done this year, half have included push notifications. We are seeing a lot more uptake.”

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.