The release of a new Urban Outfitters iOS app rewards shoppers for checking in and chattering about the brand. It's another tactic in the specialty retailer's digital customer engagement strategy.
Urban Outfitters has close to 1 million followers on Instagram and Twitter; the new app aims to make the brand an even more integral part of customers' lives. When shoppers download the app, they can customize it by uploading a photo, changing the background, indicating their gender and adding a college.
The app has two areas, according to Moira Gregonis, marketing manager for Urban Outfitters: My UO and Get Some. "My UO is the engagement piece that has rewards, badges and your Urban Outfitters ID. Get Some are all the mini fun challenges for our customers to do."
The Urban Outfitters ID is a 2D barcode that lets customers in the store use their mobile phones to identify themselves, instead of the clerks asking for email addresses. Eventually, the retailer is preparing for the inevitable mobile wallet, says Gregonis.
The Get Some challenges include things like tweeting about a recent purchase with a specific hashtag, visiting particular stores or buying a vinyl record. Urban Outfitters integrated social media into the app; for example, when a customer downloads the app for the first time, she's prompted to include her Twitter handle, making it easy to perform the challenges.
"You don't have to go jump out of the app and into another platform to do a challenge and get a reward," Gregonis notes.
Participating in the challenges lets customers earn rewards including special badges, early access to hot items and advance notice on sales. These rewards may be tailored to an individual's preferences and interests, as evidenced by her behavior within the app, according to Jim Davis, head of interactive marketing, social media, CRM and analytics for Urban Outfitters.
"The challenges are intended to appeal in a broad-based way, but the way we react to what challenge they choose to engage in, and what we offer them, can be tailored," Davis says. "We're not spewing a bunch of coupons." For example, if a customer has bought a band's record, she may be rewarded by early notification that the retailer is doing a special promotion with that band.
All aspects of the app, including strategy, creative, user experience and development, were handled in-house. Urban Outfitters is promoting the app all over the place: in-store signage, the website, email, social media and push notifications to those who have already downloaded the app.
Another digital engagement play is the use of Curalate’s Fanreel, a new offering that lets brands incorporate user-generated images into websites and product pages. Urban Outfitters pulls a feed from Instagram of images with the hashtag UOONYOU, curates them and puts the best on its site. Urban Outfitters has gone a step further, and made the images shoppable, so that a customer who likes another customer's look in a photo can immediately buy the clothing.
"Since we added Fanreel, we have seen an increase in customers using the hashtag UOONYOU," Gregonis says, even though the hashtag hasn't been advertised or promoted; it merely sits below the fold on the website landing page."Our customers ask about product on Instagram, the name and where to buy. Adding Fanreel has boosted the customer experience: We get less questions and customers can explore and easily click through the product pages."
Since the launch of the app, Urban Outfitters has seen what Gregonis says has been a huge spike in sales, downloads and engagement, although the company doesn't yet have hard results. Meanwhile, she says, Urban Outfitters will continue to enhance the point-of-sale experience. She comments, "Urban Outfitters is aware that our customers shop in all our channels, so it makes sense to integrate a program like this into point of sale."
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Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.
March 19, 2014