Skip to main content

Macy’s Beefs Up Store Tech Ahead of the Holidays, with Facebook Partnership and VR on Top

Macy’s is teaming up with Facebook to bring in around 150 new e-commerce brands to its The Market @ Macy’s service. The retailer said in a statemnet that it’s upgrading its omnichannel technology, including an expansion of in-store virtual reality (VR) and improvements to RFID.

Online brands including Love Your Melon and the Charleston Gourmet Burger Company will now appear regularly in the collections found in Macy’s in-store pop-up program. The Market @ Macy’s is just one of the many new methods the iconic department store is using to bring traffic into its brick-and-mortar locations.

“Macy’s is focused on providing customers with fresh experiences, and we are always looking for new ways to engage our customers in store, online and via our mobile app,” Hal Lawton, president of Macy’s, said in prepared remarks. “Our technology enhancements are practical applications that will engage our customers while also driving sales. The investments we are making behind the scenes will enable our colleagues to give our customers the best shopping experience possible. We’re also thrilled to be partnering with Facebook to bring new brands into our retail as a service concept, The Market @ Macy’s.”

The partnership with Facebook is a reflection of the digital platform the social media giant has built for small businesses. Instead of railing against the growing aggregate of small businesses fighting for a share of the retail market, Macy’s has collaborated with the aggregate’s most prominent platform.

Related Stories

“All over the world people are running businesses, big and small, that have inspiring stories and we want to help them succeed. We are thrilled to be partnering with one of the world’s biggest retailers to bring some of those businesses to a physical store this holiday season,” Michelle Klein, director of North America marketing at Facebook, said about the upcoming partnership.

Paired with the collaboration was an announcement that Macy’s would continue to grow its omnichannel customer experience. Macy’s plans on expanding its roster of stores that provide a “VR for Furniture” service. More than 50 Macy’s stores were chosen to test the program, and Macy’s executives plan to increase that number to 69 stores by early November. The virtual reality experience allows customers to visualize how furniture would appear in their own living spaces before making a purchase, a practice Macy’s said increases consumer confidence in such high-ticket transactions and has “increased overall basket size by more than 60 percent versus non-VR furniture sales.” What’s more, Macy’s credit VR for reducing returns to just 2 percent among customers who tried the technology.

Macy’s also said it’s bringing augmented reality to its iOS app, with the feature scheduled to land on Android devices in 2019. The new feature, called “Visualize Your Space,” will allow consumers to virtually place digitized furniture into their own existing spaces and offer a better understanding of how products of interest would mesh with furniture they already own.

Macy’s will expand its augmented reality for beauty services, as well, applying the technology to train its in-store beauty technicians along with installing kiosks in 50 stores that allow customers to digitally try on makeup before purchase. It plans to bring this same feature to the Macy’s iOS app in 2019.

Finally, Macy’s reiterated its commitment to RFID and lauded its continued success and further adoption. RFID has accounted for an improvement in product availability and replenishment, according to the statement, and has seen the most success in “high turnover, limited display merchandise such as handbags, luggage and men’s furnishings.”

Macy’s says that it will continue to test new hands-free RFID technology, including “robotics, fixed infrastructure and other mobile device solutions” as it builds on its data-collection technology.

This announcement comes just one month after Macy’s Q2 earnings report raised expectations for the year. Macy’s has been active in adopting omnichannel practices lately and the success of those strategies may have played a part in elevating earnings.

“Macy’s, Inc. delivered strong performance in the first half of the year, and we are pleased to report our third consecutive quarter of comparable sales growth,” Macy’s explained in its quarterly earnings report.

Macy’s gives credit to improved in-store performance, coupled with a corresponding growth in its digital offerings and strategic initiatives. Among other factors, Jeff Genette, Macy’s Inc. chairman and CEO, also praised better inventory management and a revamped customer experience as contributors to improved margins.

“The combination of healthy stores, robust e-commerce and a great mobile experience is Macy’s recipe for success. We are focused on improving our customer journey every step of the way because we know that our customers expect a great experience whenever and wherever they engage with our brands,” Gennette said about the Q2 report.

The retailer, which had to close dozens of stores over the past few years, reported net sales of $11.112 billion for the first half of 2018, an increase of 1.1 percent over 2017. It expects sales to continue on this path, ranging from flat growth to a possible 0.7 percent increase for the fiscal year. Its adjusted earnings per diluted share projections have gone up from $3.95 to $4.15, as a result.