Matt Stringer of Men’s Wearhouse: Mobile Wallet Tech Will Change Customer Engagement

Mobile Wallet TechSmall Business Trends: Give us a little of your background.

Matt: I came in 16 years ago and went from being one of three people in the marketing department – with a channel strategy almost exclusively TV. Now we’re a team that includes an in house creative team, a CRM team, a database marketing team, a brand planning team, a production team, an on site photo studio, as well as an in-house media buying team.

Small Business Trends: Why was it important for MW to adopt a mobile wallet strategy so early on?

Matt: Apple Pay and some of the new wallet functionalities are just in the infancy of adoption. But we feel like in the case of mobile wallet we are happy to get out and be an early adopter. Apple Passbook (now called Apple Wallet) came out in late 2012, and we started using it in early 2013 so that was fairly early on the adoption curve. And we subsequently used Google Wallet. And it was a way for us to integrate coupons into both of those platforms, and really tie it to our Perfect Fit app as a way to increase our top of mind visibility with our customers. We think as consumer adoption continues to grow with mobile wallet, it’s a space that eventually all retailers are going to have to be in.

Small Business Trends: Can you talk a little bit about the results you see with this mobile wallet strategy?

Matt: What we do see specifically is when a customer saves a coupon down from email into their Apple Passbook or Google Wallet, it’s driving a 10X increase from that coupon compared to what the customer is doing if they are just keeping it within that email and redeeming it from the email.

We are really excited because we think mobile wallet does a couple of things. It gives us a new CTA (call to action), something specific the customers can react to. They now have a redeemable branded content that’s saved on their phone which as we all know is something everyone has on them pretty much at all points and all times of the day. We now have better metrics and data to be able to engage around redemption in terms of understanding what are they doing besides just maybe printing or using that coupon code online.

We know there’s that conscious consideration where they are taking the content, pulling it out of the channel, in this case email, and saving it from a passive email to a very active mobile wallet perspective. Then it lets us, by adding that simple save to wallet function, close the loop on driving that customer to a transaction and persistently engage them knowing that now they’ve got that coupon in their wallet.

They can now save it down to their Perfect Fit app. They can push their Perfect Fit app loyalty card into mobile wallet as well. We’ve run these programs for a better part of 2014, so that 10X increase isn’t just one campaign, this is looking at results over a period of time, which is a unique perspective. That 10X increase based on the save to wallet function is a sizable incremental lift that we’re really thrilled with.

Small Business Trends: How does all this work together; the content luring them into the store, and what happens once they get into the store?

Matt: The beauty of having the save-to-wallet function is you’ve got the strength of what our brand has been built on: highly engaged, motivated, well trained, friendly, knowledgeable sales staff, with an active customer who’s been driven in to the store with intent. They’ve got a coupon saved down to their mobile wallet with the intent to use. It then creates a dynamic where you’ve got an engaged customer with an engaged sales staff, and it’s helped us to, in part drive that increase in redemption because there’s intent there obviously, with the save to wallet functionality.

And when they walk into one of our stores, assuming they’re walking into our store to redeem versus going online, you’ve got an engaged sales staff that now is able to reap the benefits of an engaged customer and it’s really a perfect win-win in terms of the customer experiences. And our ability to work with that customer to maximize revenue and redemptions on those coupons via the save to wallet functionality, I think is amplified as well.

What we’re hoping to do from a mobile perspective is put the customer at the center of the experience. And I think mobile wallet is a great way to do that because it puts them in control and lets them leverage the strength of our organization and get a more unique and relevant customer experience because we know they are coming in with the intent to purchase and we can then build the consumer experience around what they want to buy from us, and expedite some of that sales process, and then compliment that purchase with add-ons and help build out their closet. And hopefully in turn increase their loyalty, which is the ultimate objective.

Small Business Trends: Is it becoming more or less of a challenge to find the right mix of content to attract new customers, but also focus on converting new opportunities with current customers?

Matt: There’s obviously a focus in keeping that existing customer happy and focusing on how you create the best experience for them, while putting them at the center of the journey.

At the same time, you’re constantly trying to look for ways to create new content and ways to reach that new customer. I think the challenge, as a marketer, is the proliferation of content; the proliferation of channels. You have to make decisions relative to where your emphasis is. Where your emphasis is relative to your objectives and your budget and what your strategy is in terms of ultimately what your brand idea is. You can’t create content without knowing who you are and what you want to be and how you want to go to market, and it has to start there before you decide anything else in terms of while channels, how much you want to spend.

We don’t ever expect to be done optimizing our marketing mix or our content strategy, it’s going to be something that’s always going to have to be fluid and ever evolving. And that for me is what I think is really exciting, and keeps this job really fresh.

Small Business Trends: What are the one or two challenges you see that still lie ahead of you using all this great data and great technology to stay connected with the customers that are constantly evolving? Here today, gone later today?

Matt: You can have all the right data and know who your customer is, and if you don’t translate that into either action from a marketing strategy or media strategy or creative strategy, then all the world’s data isn’t going to help you reach your customer and create the relevance, and ultimately loyalty, if you haven’t translated that.

There is that gap between insight and action in terms of how do you translate that into a creative strategy, or a brand strategy, or a media strategy. But having the right instincts in terms of interpreting that data through reaction and strategy is a challenge. As brands evolve that’s the biggest paradigm challenge that most marketers face; the company and the brand customers know and love has to evolve.

Small Business Trends: A year from now, what’s the thing that’s going to be prevalent that we are not really focused on today?

Matt: Apple Wallet and Google Wallet are going to change the dynamic in terms of how customers engage with brands and how marketing feeds into those. I think mobile payments, what PayPal is doing, what Apple is doing in terms of the way consumers transact with brands in store or online, from a digital perspective, is really going to be the marriage between the physical and the digital. I think you see brands that are traditional brick and mortar brands that are looking to catch up on the digital and interestingly enough, you see these pure play digital brands that are looking to create a brick and mortar presence.

I think the brands that are going to be really successful a year from now are going to figure out a nice marriage between the two in terms of how digital works with brick and mortar, and vice versa. And I think that’s again back to the idea that it’s the era of the customer and putting the customer at the center of the journey.

Marketers are going to have to react and whether that’s how they use their phone or wearable technology, I think that’ll shape the transactional landscape and how we push marketing through those various new devices.