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US department store giant ramps up digital initiatives

Macy’s shoppers will soon have the best of both worlds: the speed and ease of shopping online and the instant gratification of carrying their purchase out of the store.

The iconic US department store chain has announced the roll-out of ‘mobile checkout’ to all full-line stores nationwide by the end of this year.

The service lets in-store customers scan the items they wish to purchase using the Macy’s app and their mobile phone. They can apply any relevant offers or rewards and pay using a pre-registered credit card directly in the app. Customers need to be connected to Macy’s free wi-fi network to do so.

Store employees verify the purchase, remove security tags and bag the items at special ‘mobile checkout’ counters set up near the exits.

Most in-store merchandise is available for mobile checkout, with the exception of certain product categories, such as fine jewelry, as noted per store.

“We are excited to expand our launch of mobile checkout powered by the Macy’s app, providing our customers with the opportunity to self-serve and speed their transactions with us in-store,” said Macy’s chairman and CEO Jeff Gennette, who announced the roll-out at the Shoptalk conference in Las Vegas this week.

“We think of the Macy’s app as a key we hand to our customers, a key that allows them to unlock an enhanced shopping experience – a world of possibilities. With this powerful tool in hand, we give them the opportunity to engage with us on their terms. And we keep adding exciting new features to it based on what they tell us,” he said.

The company’s Bloomingdale’s division will begin testing the mobile checkout feature later this month at its SoHo location in New York City, ahead of future implementation across its stores.

In addition to mobile checkout, Gennette also announced further investments in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) in partnership with Marxent.

The retailer plans roll out a VR furniture design service to 60 store locations nationwide by the end of this year, covering Macy’s largest furniture departments.

The service lets customers map out the basic dimensions of their room, select items from Macy’s furniture range and virtually arrange them. Customers can then ‘step into’ the room using VR headsets to test out the space. Macy’s has been piloting the service in three stores already.

The retailer is also rolling out an AR feature in its app, which will allow customers to virtually place Macy’s furniture products in their actual living spaces. The feature will be available to customers next month.

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