Teens love their smartphones. Many also love trying on the latest fashions. A retailer of apparel for teenaged women combined the two recently using mobile push notifications to drive trend-seeking teens to stores to buy.

And the results were impressive.

As mobile now accounts for the majority of digital traffic for the 540-store chain, Charlotte Russe was looking for a way to get its mobile visitors into its stores, says Kim Stromberg, director of mobile and omnichannel at Charlotte Russe.

“Initially, we saw mobile apps as an opportunity to drive increased sales on smartphones,” says Stromberg. “And that understanding evolved quickly to us realizing a mobile app was not merely an online commerce opportunity but a tool to drive our omnichannel business. The app could enable us to communicate with our best customers on the screens of their smartphones, as well as enrich their in-store shopping experience.”

In November 2014, ahead of the holiday sales season, Charlotte Russe developed iOS and Android apps with the help of mobile commerce and technology vendor GPShopper. Today, app visits are three time greater than both desktop and mobile site visits, Charlotte Russe says. What’s more a high 85% of app users have opted in to receive push notifications, or alerts sent to their smartphone home screens notifying them of deals, promotions or other offers.

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In April Charlotte Russe decided to launch a marketing campaign targeting its many app users who said they would like to receive alerts. On April 16, Charlotte Russe held one of its regular “Appy Hour” promotions, offering a discount off purchases made in its mobile app or in stores. However, this time only shoppers who downloaded the mobile app were notified of the promotion via an app alert.

The result? Charlotte Russe effectively used the alert not only to drive in-app sales but also to drive teens to its stores—where they bought, a lot.

In-app revenue during the promotion compared with the previous 30 days increased 321% but, in-store revenue was 3.7 times greater than in-app revenue during the promotion.

“It’s a perfect illustration of the fact that mobile commerce is much more than what happens on a device,” Stromberg says.

Unique visitors to the app during the promotion compared to the previous 30 days also increased 61% and time spent in the app rose 16%, the retailer says. Additionally the app conversion rate increased 42%.

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Since the success of the app event, Charlotte Russe ramped up its push notification marketing campaigns based on consumers’ proximity to its stores. All of its stores are geofenced, which means, if a consumer allows it, the mobile app can detect when a customer with the app on her smartphone is within a certain distance of a Charlotte Russe store and send her alerts. Stromberg says she has seen shoppers click through such location-based push notifications at a rate 10 times greater than general alerts that are not based on a shopper’s proximity to a store.

“That location element that only mobile offers is driving a lot of value for us,” Stromberg says. “We know the majority of our customers browse online but ultimately purchase in the store. We need to connect those two experiences as best we can. And the mobile app is a critical connection between our customers and the brand—it’s on her phone, it’s where she figures out what she wants, and she can take it with her into a store where she wants to buy products.”

Stromberg adds that when Charlotte Russe first launched its app it worked with GPShopper to develop a launch plan to encourage shoppers to download and use the app. For example, shoppers who downloaded the app received free shipping for purchases made within it throughout the holiday season. And the retailer also gave shoppers an instant offer immediately after downloading the app that could be used in the app or in stores. It also told sale associates about the new app and how it could help drive store sales.

“The more customers the store teams encouraged to download the app, the more push notifications we can send, and the more customers we will send back to stores,” Stromberg says.

As of July 2015 the Charlotte Russe app had been downloaded more than 500,000 times.

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Mobile commerce is where we see the most growth,” Stromberg says. “Through digital analytics, phone interviews and store interviews, we’ve determined mobile is the hub of our customers’ lives—it’s how they get to the brand.”

Sign up for a free subscription to Mobile Strategies 360, a newsletter reporting on how businesses in all industries use mobile technologies to communicate with and market and sell to their consumers. Mobile Strategies 360 is published by Vertical Web Media LLC, which also publishes Internet Retailer, a business publication on e-retailing.

 

 

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