How Retailer Cache Bridged the In-Store-Digital Divide

When specialty retailer Cache hired Kevin Metz as its first vp of e-commerce last year, his mandate was clear. Metz was charged with connecting the store and online experiences.

Metz, who previously worked for Yankee Candle and retailers like Limited Too and Bass Pro Shops, got to work on the Cache website to make it easy for its customers, who mostly research online and come in-store to purchase, to check to see if a product is available at the Cache closest to them. If it is, they can call the store and ask an associate to set it aside for them or ship it to them.

Next, Metz decided it was time to work on the mobile piece. Cache launched its mobile website in early 2011 and it’s meant to be an additional touchpoint for consumers that prefer to do research on their mobile devices. It is commerce enabled. But that wasn’t enough. The analytics were telling the company that its mobile users are shopping in-store and the mobile website was doing very little to take advantage of that.

“We know a large portion of people are accessing the website through the mobile device,” Metz said. “They are doing so primarily through the iPad and iPhone, to the point where other devices like Android are insignificant. With respect to the app, we wanted to cater to in-store use and making the in-store experience better.”

Cache’s new mobile app, created by Usablenet, uses geolocation and targeted messaging and offers based on where the consumer is in proximity to a Cache store. There’s also an in-store mobile barcode-scanning feature that allows consumers to receive ratings, reviews and other information about a product immediately. This is about enhancing the in-store experience by making it easy for shoppers to research products in the store. Additionally, Cache will be sending push notifications that deliver relevant information based on what Cache knows about the customer’s preferences, using specific knowledge about the behavior of the customer in the app to drive targeted interactions. For example, if a consumer hasn’t visited the sale section of the app, the retailer could then do a promotion targeting this person and others like her to drive more traffic to this section of the app. The goal, Metz said, is to increase sales and conversion.

Cache believes that mobile is an extremely important part of the digital strategy for retailers. Metz said that the reason some brands and retailers are still holding back from mobile is because of cost. The investment for a mobile site and an app is large, while the ROI is still small.

“Fortunately, we understood it is not an immediate ROI venture and you’ve got to start playing in this,” Metz said. “Expanded capabilities for the in-store customer is a good investment and the companies that are not doing mobile are making a mistake.”

For the next year, Cache is focusing on pulling the social aspect and branded content into the mobile experience in-store. Cache has a Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook presence and creates content to share with customers on these platforms. Currently, its website and mobile site are really commerce destinations. The retailer is currently in the midst of building a microsite that will serve as a content hub, aggregating all of Cache’s content in one place. Metz said that means the company will focus more on content over the next year and by early next year, Cache wants to make that content available to consumers via their mobile devices. The content will aid customers in making purchase decisions. For example, one piece of content may be around helping women find the perfect little black dress, and there will be suggested Cache products at the bottom. The content hub will also let visitors create look books, will have an “as seen in” section and will let consumers comment on content. It is being built using responsive design, but Metz would like to further tailor the mobile aspect so that it better fits the mobile consumer. Cache’s content strategy will be built around educating consumers but also selling Cache products.

“We are thinking omni-channel,” Metz said. “We feel like if we present a good experience via digital platforms, consumers will be more inclined to buy online, in-store and via mobile.”