Macy's Links With Google To Show Mobile Users What's In Stock Nearby

Find That Gift You've Been Looking for in the Right Size, Color and Price

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Imagine spilling coffee on your way to a holiday party and needing a new shirt right way. Macy's has a solution: A quick Google search on your smartphone will tell you if that red sweater is stocked at a Macy's nearby, in your size, and at what price.

Beginning in November, shoppers can search for an item on their phone and see what's stocked at their nearest Macy's location. Alongside the images are product details like price, size and color, directions to the store, and a link to the item on the retailer's website. The program works with Google's proximity marketing platform in an effort to drive sales in stores and online during the biggest shopping season of the year.

"We're trying to encourage omni-shopping behaviors in consumers," said Jennifer Kasper, group VP-digital media and multicultural marketing at Macy's. "We know that we have great opportunity to build a longer, more loyal relationship with them if we are successful in communicating… and encouraging discovery."

Macy's also aims to highlight the items on its shelves that customers may not be aware of. "This is a great opportunity for us to shine a light on what's in our stores," said Ms. Kasper. "It's getting more credit for the inventory that's in our stores through digital."

The retailer has been testing the local inventory ads in markets like San Francisco, Calif. since Google started rolling out the ad platform last holiday season.

"We have seen encouraging results," said Ms. Kasper, who noted that the marketer's core customers are women ages 25 to 54. "She can go into a physical store and have immediate gratification."

Every dollar Macy's invests in search drives $6 in store purchases, according to its research. By focusing on smartphones users, the brand hopes to capitalize on the number of people who search for products before, during and after shopping trips.

Eighty-seven percent of shoppers research before visiting a store, 79% search during their visit and 35% look after, according to research released today by Google, based on an online survey of 6,000 smartphone users conducted in partnership with Ipsos MediaCT and Sterling Brands.

The study also showed that 71% of in-store shoppers who use smartphones for online research say their mobile device has become more important to their in-store experience.

"We're realizing there's this enormous digital influence on what's happening in stores," said Julie Krueger, retail industry director at Google. "When [consumers] are looking up a brand, the expectation is that the experience they're having online is completely simpatico with the physical experience."

Other retailers like Sephora, REI, Office Depot and Sears Outlet are also running local search ads and plan to ramp up their efforts for the holidays as Google expands its platform, according to the search engine.

"I really am excited about the number of retailers that are talking about it and realizing the connection between online and offline," said Ms. Krueger.

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