In today’s swiftly evolving retail world, at least two things are certain: Experience matters, and digital technology isn’t going anywhere.
The savviest companies are absorbing those truths and searching for fresh innovations to inject newness into their selling strategy. For the Melissa brand, that meant linking up with New York-based tech startup firm M-ND (pronounced like “mind”), which helps to optimize social networking.
Last month, Melissa installed two of M-ND’s displays in its Miami and Orlando stores. The interactive touchscreen devices serve as both a marketing tool — by presenting the brand’s look book and product info — and a social-engagement opportunity.
According to Barbara Suen, VP of sales and business development at M-ND, customers who visit the stores are encouraged to take photos of themselves in Melissa products and then post the images online, with the hashtag #MelissashoesUSA. Using the displays, shoppers can then print the photos as well as access rewards such as instant discounts.
“We put together a special program based on the client’s objectives, in order to draw traffic,” Suen said of the platform, which has a base cost of $1,000 per month, plus customizations and add-ons, such as content and programming.
Since installing the technology, Melissa has identified several benefits to its business.
“What M-ND helps us with is to continue the engagement with the customer,” said Michele Levy, the U.S. CEO of Melissa. “Before, she would buy her shoes and we may or may not capture her email at checkout — and often just her ‘junk email’ account — and then we would lose her.” Now, customers are connecting to Melissa through its social platforms: “She’s having a more in-depth conversation with the brand.”
Levy also noted that the displays are boosting Melissa’s marketing impressions through access to both customers and their followers. She estimated that each store could reach as many as 60,000 people in a week. In addition, the kiosks identify valuable influencers. “We connected with one client, and she happens to have about 25,000 followers,” said Levy. “I didn’t know her before, but now we do — and she knows us.”
While the M-ND devices at the Melissa stores do not have e-commerce capabilities, they are facilitating sales. Levy pointed out that about 50 transactions originated from one machine in a single weekend.
As Suen explained, “Sales associates have told us that the devices are incentivizing and rewarding customers who make purchases.”
Looking ahead, Levy said Melissa would continue to use the kiosks at those two locations, while it analyzes the data and looks for areas for improvement. “There’s no doubt it pays off, but I want to see exactly what my return on investment is,” said the CEO.